"Mr. President" de la Mancha
December 11, 2004
By Sheila Samples
"I Know Who I Am, and Who I May Be, If I Choose"
Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel Cervantes
in regard to --"
"Who're you talkin' to?"
It was just a split second -- a collective intake of breath --
but reporters genuflecting before George Bush last April at Central
Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, got the
message. They got it, as Bush likes to say -- loud and clear. From
that point on, it was...
"Mr. President --"
Watching the media herd jostle to gain the attention of the ill-natured
and juvenile "Mr. President," it was difficult to discern which
was more pathetic -- an unprofessional Bush delighting in forcing
a reporter to grovel for access to his wondrous self, or a professional
journalist allowing himself to be called "Stretch" while eagerly
The US media long ago abdicated their charter, that of being vigilant
watchdogs over those in power, and of serving as honest brokers
and trustees of the public interest. Walter Williams, University
of Missouri's first Journalism Dean, addressed this a century ago
in his Journalist's
Creed wherein he wrote, "Acceptance of a lesser service than
the public service is betrayal of this trust."
Unfortunately, Williams did not foresee a need for having a watchdog
over the watchdog. He believed -- as did so many of us who emerged
from Journalism classes wide-eyed and bristling with determination
to fall on our ethical swords to protect the U.S. Constitution against
all comers -- that journalists inherently had the integrity to police
themselves, and any imposed control would be an insult to the profession...
But while we weren't looking, the watchdogs over those in power
somehow became those in power. To today's media Goliaths, "public
service" is whatever it takes to ramp up ratings and corporte profits.
They apparently have no qualms about circling their wagons around
such a woeful failure as George Bush because he brings home their
bacon -- or he fronts for the guys who do. To those CEOs who now
own the mainstream media, biting the hand that feeds them would
be the ultimate betrayal.
Given his reality-challenged "vision" of ridding the entire world
of evil and riding shotgun for God by personally delivering the
gift of freedom to the few who remain, one has only to look at the
clueless, "look ma -- no hands" Bush to suspect that making this
guy look presidential -- or even remotely sane -- can be a chore.
It's work. Hard work. Really hard worky work...
The media appear to be dug in too deep to back out now. Although
the hole they're in is scandalously deep and wide, they have no
choice. They must keep digging. And digging. They're forced to save
Bush's backside in order to save their own, else how will they explain
at this late date their covering up the lies of a man-child who
delights in being an international bully -- who applauds himself
for irrationally "seizing opportunities" to decide the fate of the
entire human race, no matter how much devastation he leaves in his
wake? How else can they defend hiding from the public a monster-child
teetering atop a mountain of body bags containing the remains of
almost 1,300 US citizens -- arrogantly braying he "would do it all
over again" if he had the chance?
The problem is not just with the fawning dogs in the media. The
rest of us are also to blame -- people who choose to remain silent
while hoping someone else will stop the madness -- the jackasses
in Congress who trot out the theory that backing down, "swallowing
their pride" and moving to the middle will somehow garner them presidential
favors. As Erasmus pointed out in The Praise of Folly, "What is
more courteous than the way two mules scratch each other?"
Americans steadfastly refuse to notice the massacres ordered by
a mad commander-in-chief and carried out by a berserk defense secretary,
even as their fellow citizens are blown to bits in the process,
and innocent men, women and children are gunned down in cold blood
as they try to flee the carnage.
No one even blinked when Fox News military "analyst," retired
Lieutenant General Tom Mc Inerney recently diagnosed what our mission
in Fallajua should be -- "We must be ruthless, especially in the
area of collateral damage," he said self-righteously. "We shouldn't
be concerned about collateral damage. All the good civilians are
gone. If we must make Falluja Carthage, then let's make Falluja
It appears that truth can no longer be discerned by looking at
things as they really are, but only through hysterical punditry
wherein the most shocking and usually the loudest "opinion" wins.
Those few who dare to speak out against war crimes committed in
their name are accused of being unpatriotic -- of not supporting
the troops, even as their continued silence ensures that more Americans
are injured, maimed and slaughtered each day. The "troops" are dying
because the silence imposed by "Mr. President" and his attendant
media courtiers condemns them to death.
Bush's pre-puberty vision is one of uberhuman heroes and knights
whose power comes from a higher realm, and it is far more colorful
and exciting for the media to sell than the more mundane scenario
requiring reason and ulitity. If you think about it, "Mr. President"
is little more than a deadly Don Quixote who, upon seeing a cluster
of windmills, cried to his squire...
"Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we could
have wished; for you see there before you friend Sancho Panza, some
thirty or more lawless giants with whom I mean to do battle. I shall
deprive them of their lives, and with the spoils from this encounter
we shall begin to enrich ourselves; for this is righteous warfare,
and it is a great service to God to remove so accursed a breed from
the face of the earth."
As Cervantes said of his ludicrous hero -- "The encounters between
the ordinary world and Don Quixote are encounters between the world
of reality and that of illusion, between reason and imagination..."
Cervantes explained that Quixote got away with it because "There
is a powerfully imposing quality about Quixote's insanity; his madness
always had method, a commanding persistence and coherence. He makes
us feel a sense of inevitability beause of the spectacle of remaining
so unflinchingly faithful to his own vision..."
Like Quixote, it matters not a whit to Bush that he is perceived
as crude and uncouth, or that his actions are condemned by thinking
people throughout the world. What, after all, can they do to him?
As "Mr. President," Bush revels in being master of the universe
-- incapable of making mistakes -- scorning those who would hold
him accountable. He has set himself, not only above, but outside
the law. If Bush is capable of feeling shame, he is far more capable
of shrugging it off. No problem there.
Unfortunately, there is no corner of the universe beyond America's
borders where Bush is welcome. The US media blacks out the hundreds,
thousands -- tens of thousands -- of enraged world citizens who
turn out en masse, armed with insulting placards, to protest his
setting foot on their soil. Bush was literally chased out of Ireland
in July by cranky citizens and by rogue Irish journalists who fell
off-script to ask him why he thought he was so unpopular throughout
Europe, and his trip to Canada last month was beset with rumors
of his possibly being indicted for war crimes if he ventured near
Why do they hate him? Bush boasts it's because of his freedom
-- and he's right. Because of his freedom to destroy homes, cities,
entire nations -- his freedom to bring death and destruction to
terrified civilians -- and his freedom to seize and occupy whomever
and whatever he wants -- whenever he wants.
They hate him because of the mangled wreckage he leaves in his
wake, such as demanding that homes and businesses along a route
he was to travel in Nigeria last year be bulldozed so that his vision
would not be impaired by the plight of the poor. They hate him because,
while Nigerian residents watched in despair as all they owned was
destroyed, he spent 15 minutes in Uganda staring vacantly at children
infected with AIDS, promising billions of US dollars that, just
hours before, his Republican minions in Congress had voted to seriously
The silence of the media about the demands their president makes
on other nations is deafening. The boorish audacity of first demanding
to address the European Parliament in the lead-up to the Iraqi invasion
and then refusing to do so unless they promised him a standing ovation
and guaranteed there would be no protests or heckling was completely
ignored by the US media, as was his recent opting out of addressing
the Canadian Parliament for the same reasons.
Cervantes would be green with envy at the clash between illusion
and reality that played out during Bush's London visit in November,
2003. Although the Queen refused, Bush demanded that Buckingham
Palace be renovated
to include "bomb and airborne assault proofing" as well as blast
and bullet-proof windows and curtains.
Bush arrived with a protection squad of nearly 700 to bolster
the 5,000 British boots on the ground, 100 journalists, a personal
chef, a food taster, four cooks, medics and a 15-strong sniffer
dog team. Special agents and snipers were ordered to "shoot to kill"
protesters who got out of line. The giant windmills in London whirled
so threateningly that Bush and his journalists were in virtual lockdown
at Buckingham, which is probably why there were no "public interest"
articles written about this fiasco. When the Blackhawks finally
whisked them away, the Queen's prized, century-old rose garden was
stomped and shredded beyond repair.
Why do they hate him? Don't even ask...
The silence of the media makes them willing participants in Bush's
ghoulish slapstick-comedy worldwide crusade. Likewise, Americans
who remain silent are enablers who encourage him to go unhindered,
splurging his political capital on a bloody, open-ended genocidal
Perhaps if we all chant and cheer and applaud Bush loudly enough
-- if we stand, arms aloft and recite "The Bush
Pledge," we won't feel the disgrace and shame we so richly deserve.
Perhaps we won't hear the scornful hisses of the rest of the world...
Ain't that right, "Mr. President"?
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian
US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor
for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.