Albright shouldn’t waste her time on Bush

By Patrick Burke

Madeleine Albright’s marketing campaign for her new book is highly effective. Her media appearances have been characterized by articulate arguments and catchy anecdotes. But wherein lies the former statesmen, the scholar, within Albright’s book tour? Can we find anything within the content of her book that is truly novel? Is accusing and indicting George W. Bush for fundamentalist or fanatical Christianity any more provocative than condemning his bias for big oil? In other words, wherein lays the utility of Albright’s book or Albright’s recent media exposure to the United States? Does the United States genuinely need another critique of the Bush administration right now? Should not as consummate and venerated a political theorist as Albright direct her analytical abilities to a lesser known, less accessible issue of global importance?

Albright served as the key foreign policy mind within an administration that has since been glorified many times over for its treatment of international relations. Moreover, Albright’s prestigious curriculum vitae invests her scholarship with a degree of credibility that some of the most notable political thinkers of this day and age are still seeking to consolidate. Considering Albright is such an authoritative figure in the realm of political science, why should she waste her time on George W. Bush? Leave George W. Bush to those who satirize his contradictory policy statements best—comics. Dennis Miller, Bill Maher, Jay Leno—these men may have hardly any credibility in the scholarly sphere, one hardly needs a doctorate in international relations to comprehend or expose the hypocrisy, corruption, and general absurdity of the Bush administration.

Obviously, the scope of the discourse throughout Albright’s recent media appearances is not limited to Bush. Certainly, religious fanaticism throughout the global community is of the utmost concern. At the same time, religious fanatics have been thoroughly established as villains since September 11. Americans are all too familiar with the villainous aspects of religious fanaticism at this point, including that of their own Commander in Chief. What more can further vilification of Bush and al Qaeda honestly achieve? Does Albright aspire to provide impeachment grounds for Bush with The Mighty and the Almighty? Do the problems of the United States reasonably begin and end with George Bush and his fondness for the Left Behind series?

For a political figure she so clearly disrespects, Albright affords a great deal of agency to George W. Bush. Frankly, a millenarian conspiracy within a Manichean framework seems a little beyond Dubya. If Bush did not find his justification in a skewed perception of Christianity, would not he find it somewhere else? Has Bush ever established himself as a rational actor at any point in his political career? To treat Bush as an object of scholarly critique presupposes that his decisions as a politician have been at all sophisticated or consistent. By ascribing even a modicum of agency to George W. Bush, even if it is in the form of a diatribe, does not the critic transform the President from an object of ridicule to something nobler? If Albright truly believes, as do many other former members of the Clinton administration, that the Bush presidency has been a travesty, acknowledging the beliefs and actions of its figurehead in the context of a legitimate framework only undermines animosity. Critiquing the policy of Bush redirects the critical lens from his merits toward his politics. As an indisputably superior politician, shouldn’t the response to the Bush presidency of figures like Albright be nothing more than implicit disdain?