Friday, November 06, 2009

Speaking of a credit crisis ...

November 9 marks (more or less) the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The actual destruction of the wall was the culmination of a series of events, but the ninth is the day generally considered the anniversary, as it was the day that unrestricted travel between East and West Berlin began, a few days ahead of when it was officially supposed to.

One reason for the non-specific date is that people mistook the announcement for the fact and began to show up and it was clearly better to just let them cross than to try to tell them they had to wait for the actual date set.

In any case, I'm sure we will hear a great deal about "Tear down this wall" and Ronald Reagan, and I find that interesting, because the fall of the Wall happened not on his watch but 10 months into the presidency of George HW Bush.

How things have changed in two decades! Back then, apparently, the groundwork a president put in was credited to him, even if it didn't bear results until after he had left office. So Reagan gets credit for the fall of the Wall, largely based on a speech he made over two years prior to the event.

Now, 20 years later, we find that whatever policies a president pursued for years prior to leaving office are irrelevant 10 months later, and that his successor is entirely responsible for things like the economy or a pair of ongoing wars that, in another era, we might have said he had inherited.

Mind you, it could be a mere blip. After all, Reagan also got credit for freeing the Iran hostages, and they were released a mere six minutes into his administration.

Al Jazeera has an interesting teaser for a David Frost interview with GHW Bush and Gorbachev on the topic, in which one point of agreement is that the dismantling of the Berlin Wall was made easier because Bush didn't showboat over it.

Well, then, I guess somebody had to.

Or maybe the Bush family is just naturally invisible. As noted, GW Bush appears to have left no footprints at all in American history -- everything he did expired at the moment he left the White House and, 10 months later, is credited entirely to Barack Obama.


Dann said...

Of course....the reverse is also true.

ronnie said...

Astute observations.

In my 40s, I'm finally old enough to participate in "remember when...?" cultural moments like this.

They're a lot more bittersweet than I anticipated. And often more bitter than sweet.