The Old Zeitgeist Vs. the New Zeitgeist

When did 401(k) statements replace waterboarding as the primary instrument of torture?

12.21.08 11:27 AM ET

As the French saying goes, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose.” (Translation: “Is not our first lady hot?”) But is it really true that things never really change, they just stay the same? Herewith a guide to where things stand zeitgeist-wise as we usher in a new president, and with any luck, a new era. On reflection, perhaps the French have something there. They usually do.

Old New Worst U.S. President Buchanan Bush (II) Reassuring African-American Leader Colin Powell Obama Menacing Ruskie Stalin Putin GOP Clotheshorse Nancy Reagan Sarah Palin Toxic Substance Asbestos Collateralized Debt Obligation Three Stooges Moe, Larry, Curley Detroit Auto CEOs Spurious Casus Belli Tonkin Gulf Incident WMDs Supremely Self-satisfied Talk Show Host Bill O'Reilly Keith Olbermann Over-The-Top Crooked Pol Duke Cunningham Gov. Blagojevich Eponymous/Onomatopoeic Financial Scoundrel Ponzi Madoff (MAY-Doff) Martin Luther King Wept Sharpton Wright Fugitive Richard Kimball Osama bin Laden Wise Man Greenspan Buffett Hunky Aussie Russell Crowe Hugh Jackman Downed Aviator Amelia Earhart Steve Fossett Oxygen-Depleting,Single-NamedBlonde Divorcée Diana Madonna Caribbean Hell Hole David's Island Guantanamo Sapphic TV Personality Ellen de Generes Rachel Maddow Cancer Phobia Cell phones Bottled water UnfortunateSanguinaryPhoto Op Saddam Execution Sarah Palin at Turkey Slaughterhouse Illegal Substance Meth Canadian Lipitor Guilty Pleasure Downloading Napster Leaving Lights On High-minded Catchphrase Compassionate Conservatism Audacity of Hope Cool Brit Tony Blair Boris Johnson Politically Incorrect Gas guzzler Hummer Gulfstream Texan Wind Bag Ross Perot T. Boone Pickens Weirdo Actor Christopher Walken Joaquin Phoenix Scary Weather Event Perfect Storm Katrina Potty-Mouthed Illinois Pol Rahm Emmanuel Gov. Blagojevich Repugnant African Despot Idi Amin Robert Mugabe Crown Kennedy Ted Caroline Cupcake Sarah Jessica Jen $6 Million Book Advance Colin Powell Tina Fey Ubiquitous Historian Douglas Brinkley Niall Ferguson Hyper-Adoptive Actress Mia Farrow Angelina Jolie Tantalizing Opener Please to contact me most Very immediately re: $16 Mil Dollars (US) In Your Bank of Nigeria Acct! In the event of an erection lasting more than four hours... Creepy Pol Larry Craig Eliot Spitzer Village Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair Christopher Hitchens Hot Wheels Boxster Tesla Frigid, Cash Strapped Landmass Russia Iceland Presidential Reading My Pet Goat Team of Rivals F--- You VP Rockefeller Cheney Cute NASA Gizmo Mars Rover Orbiting Tool Box Fun Clinton Bill Hillary Torture Device Water-board 401(k) Statement Chicago G-Man Eliot Ness Patrick Fitzgerald Hot First Lady Carla Sarkozy Michelle Obama

Christopher Buckley’s books include Supreme Courtship, The White House Mess, Thank You for Smoking, Little Green Men, and Florence of Arabia. His journalism, satire, and criticism has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Esquire. He was chief speechwriter for Vice President George H.W. Bush, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Forbes FYI.