As America prepares to say goodbye to its 43rd president in January, Justin Parker wants everyone in the country to compose a farewell to George W. Bush on Farewell43.com.
The Web site launched quietly in January and has already logged more than 100,000 visitors from more than 70 countries, Parker said. It can be viewed in 11 languages.
Farewell scribes can categorize their messages as fond, neutral or not-so-fond farewells, and as long as the message is between 20 and 200 words and is ontopic, writers are free to express whatever opinion they wish. Visitors can peruse messages by those categories, request to be directed to random posts or read the most popular and highly rated farewells.
One highly rated message from Shirley Kaczmarski reflects many of the more negative farewell messages’ sentiments:
As I reflect upon the past 8 years of your presidency, I see the ridiculous rise of gas prices while your corporate friends made billions; I see 4000+ Americans dead for a war that should never have been; I see an economy in ruins, foreclosures, an ailing stock market, and the ruination of our name and our reputation abroad. Further, I can thank you for violating my privacy with illegal wiretaps, for ignoring habeas corpus when it suits you, and, worse, for arrogantly insisting that your God is pleased with you.
But Parker, an art director and former double bassist with the Boston Philharmonic, according to Farewell43, designed the site to attract farewells from across the political spectrum.
Many posts thank Bush for his service, with one well-wisher penning an ode to No. 43:
May Crawford be nicer to you
Than Washington was.
May the brush you clear
Be free of rattlers.
Let the cowpoke grub be tasty.
Watch the sunset with dear Laura
With feet up,
Stetson on your head.
And Justin Kitchen writes:
No offense but you were one of the weirdest Presidents. And thats what’s good about you.
“We go one step beyond nonpartisan. We’re un-partisan,” Parker said.
To that end, Parker won’t divulge his political leanings or post a farewell message of his own.
“I’m not allowed to. That’s my own rule. I could write about 40 of them,” said Parker, adding that he plans to start Farewell44.com when the next president, Republican or Democrat, takes office.
The statistical breakdown between positive and negative reviews is about on par with Bush’s presidential approval rating, Parker said.
In a recent Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, Bush’s presidential approval rating with registered voters was 23 percent.
One of the farewell messages categorized as neutral reads:
Why blame Bush? I don’t think you are smart enough to know the consequences of your actions.
Parker plans to compile “the best, most interesting” of the site’s messages into a gift book for Bush. Farewell43 will accept submissions until the next president takes office on Jan. 20.
“This is what I call the first reverse blog,” Parker said, explaining that instead of a blog written by a single author and consumed by many anonymous readers, Farewell43 is a blog written by many authors to one specific person.
There’s no guarantee Bush will want to take time away from clearing brush to read the messages.
“I never said he would read it;all I said is we would give it to him,” Parker says.
Parker said he hopes Farewell43 will gain traction as he builds the site’s public profile. He is currently making a YouTube video to promote the farewell project.
To help promote and fund this parting gift from “We the People,” Parker is hocking Wearwell gear, hats and shirts with the Farewell43 logo.
Asked why it’s important to say farewell, a term Parker views as more polite than goodbye, the site’s creator said it’s simple:
“It’s just good manners.”
But, in some cases, writers choose outrage over etiquette, as Gabby Hyman proves:
You plundered our economy, our surplus, thousands of our young, our civil liberties, our environment, our right to fair wages, and our right to fair elections. Just pack a carry-on bag, Georgie, and leave the citizen’s silverware, will ya?