Bush By Any Other Name
by Michael Shannon
Borrowing from the parlance now so in vogue; reflecting on
the first year of a Presidency is to fly over a target rich
environment. Regardless of how the office has changed hands
or who has assumed the throne it is a story of widespread
interest and paramount importance. First is the election and
peaceful transfer of power; themselves two of the most significant
acts of American democracy. Followed by the initial surge
of legislative initiative as the new administration endeavors
to strike while the iron is hot. Frame all of this within
the natural interest the electorate has in learning who exactly
this new boss and his team are and you have yourself a deep
well to draw upon.
This reality has never been more readily apparent than in
the case of our 43rd President. With Mr Bush we have from
the onset of his ascension to power been witness to a series
of, at the minimum, remarkable, and in many cases, extraordinarily
unprecedented events. Events that have coalesced to place
our nation and its leadership in very deep and uncharted waters.
A development made all the less comforting by noting that
our current President was in over his head from the moment
he stepped into the pool. That this pampered and coddled son
of the Texas oilocracy now finds himself in a raging ocean
of geo-political and economic turmoil is ironic drama worthy
of the playwrights of ancient Greece.
Of course such a damning assessment of our chief executive's
mettle flies directly in the face of the opinion of the vast
majority of my fellow Americans. A fact that in istelf is
extraordinary. Although it seems a long time ago, it was only
year since Mr. Bush failed to garner a plurality of popular
votes and was generally perceived - even by many who did support
him - as less than ideally suited for the responsibilities
of the Presidency. Now he is widely hailed as our knight in
shining armor. It is this sea change in perception which is
the basis of these comments.
According to much of what we now read and see; from his inauspicious
start Bush pere has metamorphisized into an heroic and steadfast
figure worthy of comparisons with some of the great men in
American and world history. A development that seemed scarcely
imaginable just a few short months ago. Then again, it is
still scarcely imaginable that those two soaring towers -
and the thousands of people who brought them to life - could
have vanished in a cloud of pulverized concrete.
That the mythmaking machinery both within the government
and in the private media has succeeded so dramatically in
reshaping the collective opinion of Mr Bush is really no surprise.
The etymological base of the term patriot is the Greco Latin
word patr. In its earliest usage its meaning ranged from father
to protector. The patriotic fervor presently on exhibit is
primal in its source. It is hardwired within the human psyche
to turn to the head of the extended family for reassurance
and strength during times of crisis and danger. As long as
the object of that veneration is deemed capable of facing
the challenges at hand heretofore troubling shortcomings are
eagerly overlooked. Mr Bush is text book case in point.
But regardless of how he may have come to hold his current
position and place - and whether you love him or hate him
- he is the President. And as such I too wish him well, for
the stakes at hand are enormous and deeply resonant. What
could stand a little critical examination is the accompanying
George W Bush is no Harry Truman. He lacks both the latter's
real world experiences - spending a year in the Air National
Guard can scarcely be compared to commanding a front-line
artillery unit in the First World War - and his lengthy and
step by step climb up the political power structure of his
day. Nor is he Winston Churchill. True he shares the luxury
of a well to do and politically prominent family but that
is where the similarities end. Mr Churchill's life experiences
are even far greater in depth and range than Mr Truman's.
And while Mr Bush gave two well presented speeches at critical
junctures in the early days of this crisis he neither wrote
them himself as Mr Churchill so famously did or as is far
more plainly evident, does he contain an iota of the eloquence
and wit of his British counterpart.
Closer to both home and ideological tilt, Mr Bush is no Ronald
Reagan. You may not have agreed with what Mr Reagan said but
it was impossible to fault how he said it. He had a presence
about him when he spoke that was undeniable in its effect
and impact. What is also beyond dispute is that Mr Reagan
had a vision. To his detractors it may have seemed simplistic
and unworkable but it was genuine and heartfelt. Mr Bush gives
every indication of being the son of the father: he simply
doesn't do the "vision thing".
By the fathomless hand of fate Mr Bush finds himself President
at a time in our when the need for an overarching grasp of
the world's soci/economic and political intricacies, with
all their potentials and pitfalls, has never been more apparent
and immediate. For America to truly win this war we now find
ourselves in will take an understanding of not just how to
defeat our enemies but to insure that the conditions from
which they metastasized do not reappear. If Mr Bush does rise
to the occasion and meet these challenges in a decisive and
inspired manner he will come to deserve to be listed among
the greats of history. If he fails the failure will not be
his alone, we will all be the worse for it.
Shannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.