Madness of King George
suck. Especially badly produced ones. Armed with the remote
control, most Americans have liberated themselves from the
tedious chore of having to sit through them. Poorly produced
movies are even worse. Fire up the VCR and give American Ninja
a spin. Even 80's "blockbusters" such as Red Dawn or Rambo
show their age and qualify for the "cheesy" label these days.
So why do Americans continue to rally around a President
who has been reduced to nothing more than cheesy sound bites?
Even Reagan was capable of eliciting warmth, and injecting
substance into his speeches. His policies may have been questionable,
but at least he gave the impression that he genuinely cared.
Charisma, diplomacy, chivalry and presentability - like it
or not, these were components that Reagan displayed.
This new kid, Dubya, is something completely different.
This is 80's cheesy action-adventure shlockfest gone wild.
Case in point: "Bring them on." Knowing that our military
continues to face guerilla attacks on a daily basis, and that
widows and fatherless children have already been a tragic
circumstance in our Iraq escapade, Mr. Bush thinks that offering
a Clint Eastwood, smart-ass swagger is the appropriate response
from the Leader of the Free World. Perhaps this was a necessary
skill when leading the cheerleading corps at Yale, when the
worst that could happen to a gridiron warrior is perhaps a
blown out knee. But when our troops come under the fire of
RPGs and AK-47s on a daily basis, the Commander-in-Chief,
who is ultimately responsible for their lives, dare not be
insensitive to their families, nor provocative to the enemy.
Especially from halfway around the world, under the careful
watch of our Secret Service men.
This is nothing new for Dubya. Some of us have been keen
to this pattern of bluster and bullshit ever since before
Dubya became President. The only thing bigger than a Texas
bullshitter is a bullshitter who claims to be from Texas.
For example, on May 1st, 2003, under a banner that said "Mission
Accomplished", Bush said, "The battle of Iraq is one victory
in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001
and still goes on." There are three glorious deceptions here;
a veritable bullshit trifecta, if you will.
First, the image of our ace Top Gun President with his tailhook
landing, a la Bill Pullman taking on the aliens in
Independence Day. Noting that Mr. Bush has never accounted
for a missing year in the Texas Air National Guard, and that
he is a self-proclaimed reformed alcoholic, a more appropriate
comparison would be to the pilot Ted Striker from Airplane!
Remember, the guy with the "drinking problem?" Secondly, the
presentation of our "victory" - that the war is over.
Two months after this announcement, combat continues, soldiers
still die, and guerillas are still "bringing it on." Finally,
there is the perpetuation of the lie that connects Iraq with
Speaking of trifectas and September 11th, I am reminded
of another careless remark Mr. Bush rattled off. "And so we
have a temporary deficit in our budget, because we are at
war, we're recovering, our economy is recovering, and we've
had a national emergency. Never did I dream we'd have the
trifecta." Now for those of you who are not familiar with
gambling lingo, a trifecta involves a method of betting that
requires an extreme amount of luck. Mr. Bush offered this
remark as a "joke." I wonder if the people who have felt the
effects of this trifecta, those who have lost jobs and money
and are still waiting for the imminent recovery, and those
who lost their lives or loved ones on September 11th, appreciate
Mr. Bush's luck, or think that his joke was very funny.
The gambling jokes did not stop there, however. In his build
up for war in Iraq, as he tried to present a case which to
this day has not been made that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
posed a direct and imminent threat to the United States, the
hustler told the country, "Yes, we'll call for the vote: No
matter what the whip count is, we'll call for a vote. It's
time for people to show their cards." Of course, after finding
out that not enough support existed on the U.N. Security Council
for a second resolution (gee, I wonder why?) the cards were
never asked to be shown. When called on his bluff, even with
a stacked deck, Mr. Bush ended up folding.
September 11th provided additional material for Mr. Bush
to showcase his bravado. After the attacks were attributed
to Osama Bin Laden, Bush this time playing the Texas cowboy
said, "All I'm doing is remembering. When I was a kid I remember
that they used to put out there in the Old West a wanted poster.
It said, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" Well sheriff, we're still
waiting. But, it gets better. At Ground Zero, to a crowd of
workers chanting "USA! USA!" Bush through a bullhorn vowed,
"I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you, and the
people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us
This was this President's defining moment according to the
press. Unfortunately, I was reminded more of Hulk Hogan taking
on the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Such displays of "patriotism"
may be enough to send shivers down the spine of a ten year
old, but Iím a big boy now, and actions speak louder than
words. Do I love my country any less? No, in fact, it is because
I do love my country that I do not want to see the
Presidency reduced to a cookie-cutter cartoon caricature.
The insensitivity of such remarks is truly the most frightening
aspect. For all the nonsense about how insincere Clinton was
when he "felt our pain," at least he made the effort. Check
the insight and sensitivity in this Bush gem quoted after
a suicide attack in Israel: "I call upon all nations to do
everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank
you. Now watch this drive."
Self-promoting, pat-self-on-the-back, my way or the highway
bluster tainted with used car salesman deceptions, and more
one-liners than Henny Youngman. Cheer him well America. Whether
playing cowboy, combat pilot, championship golfer, high roller
or President, he's got his lines down, sort of. Bush has shown
himself to be no more responsible for the results of the lines
he delivers than an actor in a commercial or a cheesy movie
is responsible for real world events.
For the Reformer with Results, the Results are in. Osama
Bin Laden? Mullah Omar? Saddam Hussein? Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Ken Lay? Economic Recovery? American respect and credibility?
All are MIA. In light of this, one more Bush nugget of wisdom
comes to mind:
"There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in
Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame
on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."