Oh Lord, It Ain't Hard...
February 8, 2005
By Sheila Samples
Oh Lord, ain't it hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way.
I can't wait to look in the mirror -
Cuz I get better lookin' each day...*
The curious thing about George Bush's State of the Union speech
is that anybody who's paid attention to Bush over the last four
years - or 40 years - would find it, or him for that matter, even
Those who expected Bush to be different in his Second Coming,
who thought they would at long last hear specifics on the true state
of the union rather than the usual soaring generalities, have to
be a bit disappointed.
Or not. After all, most Americans seem hesitant to question Bush's
grand scheme to fight terror by creating even more terror with his
"doctrine" of assassination and collateral damage. Only a few have
dared to approach him with even a tentative suggestion that perhaps
the public deserves an explanation for the heinous torture, abuse
and even murder of those unfortunate enough to be scooped up and
detained in prisons such as Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. And, sadly,
nobody seems to notice the growing daily death toll of American
citizens in Iraq.
It's possible that Bush doesn't know the actual state of
the union. If you stop to think about it, how could he? He has reportedly
issued a "good news only" directive to anyone tasked with bringing
him information. He refuses to listen to anything that does not
indicate he is making "great progress," or that does not support
his vision of himself as God's warrior striding across the international
landscape smearing freedom like putrid jam over every oil-rich nation
inhabited by dark-skinned people. By his own admission, Bush only
"glances at the headlines just to get a flavor of what's moving,"
and gets briefed by people who "probably read the news."
What's "moving" is Bush himself, the only flavor of any interest
to him. He has moved on from the obscene lies and illegal actions
that should have members throughout his administration doing the
perp-walk shuffle rather than their current boot-scootin' boogie.
Bush is flying by the seat of his pants, unperturbed by the destruction
he leaves in his wake or by the bags stuffed with American bodies
that continue to pile up around him. He is confident, as am I, that
there will be no oversight, no holding him to account, from any
If Bush has learned nothing else, he knows two things - a moving
target is harder to hit, and the "God Thing" works. Both tactics
were front and center, not only in his SOTU, but in his self-congratulatory
inaugural speech. Flush from an election victory which he boasted
was an "accountability moment" that absolved him of all responsibility
and put a resounding stamp of approval on his grand vision, Bush
rambled on for twenty minutes in a threatening "Climb Aboard the
Bush Freedom Train or You're Dead Meat" diatribe.
Strangely, I had a vision of my own during that twenty minutes
- the real people broke through the hundred-block green zone, outran
the armada of fighter jets and black helicopters and the 13,000
armed troops and snipers on the rooftops and dodged the tasers and
bullets and pepper spray and exercised their freedom to tar and
feather the cocky little bully. Because they know, and the rest
of the world knows, that Bush has literally been loosed upon the
planet, and is now free to seize even greater opportunities, to
achieve what he perceives is his rightful place in history and to
pursue with missionary zeal his grandiose goals of changing the
face of the world.
"So," he said, "it is the policy of the United States to seek
and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions
in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny
in our world. Every man and woman on the earth has a right to freedom,"
Bush announced defiantly as his spellbound audience inexplicably
cheered the idea of engaging in unending, eternal war, "because
they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth." He warned
"every ruler of every nation" that they will face a "moral
choice" - their way, which is always wrong, or our way, which is
Operation Freedom Crusade is underway. Bush says he has lit (sic)
a fire in the minds of men - "an untamed fire of freedom" that he
promises will "reach the darkest corners of our world."
Is anybody OUT there? How hot do the flames of freedom have to
get before it occurs to somebody to call the fire department?
Some folks say that I'm egotistical.
Hell I don't even know what that means.
I guess it has something to do with the way
That I fill out my skin-tight blue jeans.*
This freedom thing is all about George Bush, you know. It always
has been. If your name is Bush, freedom means you're entitled to
do whatever you please to whomever you please, whenever you please.
As he sought to succeed as a Texas businessman, Bush was free to
destroy everything he touched, which he promptly did, knowing that
his messes were the responsibility of daddy's friends and donors
who for years served as his personal clean-up crew.
He was free to abandon his military post during a time of war;
free to insult one of his mother's friends at her 50th birthday
party by drunkenly braying, "So - what's sex like after 50, anyway?";
free to swagger into a meeting in the Oval Office between his father
and the Queen of England and accost Her Royal Highness with, "Do
you have any black sheep in your family?"
Bush tells us he is now sober, and has been for 18 years. His
religious awakening, coupled with what he perceives as entitlement,
gives him the freedom to lecture us on God's intentions - that of
endorsing Bush's efforts to bring evildoers to justice and to rid
the world of tyranny. Bush has the power, the political capital,
and is running off in all directions on a giddy shopping spree.
What a high - to be 18 and have God Himself hold you up for all
the world to adore - to be chosen, as Bush promised in his SOTU,
to lead an entire generation confidently along the "road of Providence"
- destination Freedom.
Richard Perle, one of Bush's discredited former advisers, said
in January, "His (Bush's) importance as a world leader will turn
out to be far larger than the sort of tactical issues that are widely
debated and for which he is sometimes reviled. Put this in a historic
perspective: He's already created profound change. All around the
Middle East, they're talking about the issue of democracy. They're
talking about his agenda. It's an extraordinary thing."
Ah, to be 18 and to have the world's leaders begging for your
attention - the world's population trembling at the mention of your
name. "I like it," Bush gushed to Hardball's Chris Matthews during
the 2000 campaign, "when I'm talking about - when I'm talking about
myself, and when he's talking about myself, all of us are talking
Of course, Bush was only 14 at the time, so such exuberance could
likely be excused. But, alas, little has changed since then. Like
a kid playing dress-up, his life - and ours - can be anything he
wants it to be.
Just look at him, standing there in his Super Hero stance - smirking,
arms akimbo. You don't see a cape flowing behind him, but it's there.
Watch him strut to the podium to deliver his inaugural; swagger
to the Capitol for his SOTU; arrogantly hit the hustings to perform
Social Security sleight-of-hand before an enraptured, albeit ticketed
and vetted audience. Cod-piece proudly in place? Yep. You don't
see it, but it's there.
To know me is to love me;
I must be a hell of a man.
Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble -
But I'm doin' the best that I can.*
They love him. They really love him. And that's the curious thing,
because the media has known him since his first job after Jesus
changed his heart - that of hit man for Poppy's 1988 presidential
According to Kitty Kelly in her best-selling book, The Family,
Poppy's staff called Bush Junior "the enforcer from hell." (pp.
Kelly said that Bush, like the hotheaded Sonny Corleone in The
Godfather, "became savage about avenging his father's honor
and preserving the family's political fortunes. Profane, abusive,
and ugly, he lashed out at reporters whose stories he did not like,
sometimes becoming frighteningly confrontational."
Bush once accosted former Wall Street Journal reporter
Al Hunt and his wife, CNN's Judy Woodruff, in a Dallas restaurant
after Hunt predicted an '88 Republican ticket that did not include
Poppy, and roared, "You no-good (expletive) son of a b**ch! I saw
what you wrote. We're not going to forget this."
The list of reporters who have felt Bush's wrath is long and is
still growing - from Washington journalist Sandra McElwaine, who
told Kelly that Bush's attack on her was "so hostile I got scared"
to Women's Wear Daily correspondent Susan Watters, verbally
assaulted by Bush for talking to his sister, who said, "He was scary,
For whatever reason - ratings, advertising revenue, or corporate
perks - the performance of the mainstream media is shameful and
destructive. We no longer live in a real world where real things
happen, but are caught up in an Orwellian time warp where "reality"
is what the corporate media tells us it is.
In late 2002, a top Bush adviser told journalist Ron Suskind that
it is no longer possible for Americans to arrive at solutions by
a "judicious study of discernible reality."
"That's not the way the world really works anymore," the adviser
said. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.
And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will
- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study
too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors,"
he concluded, "and you, all of you, will be left to just study what
The reality is that the few reporters like Suskind, the New
Yorker's Seymour Hersh, NBC's Ashley Banfield, the BBC's Kate
Adie, and others who have the courage to kick against the pricks
are soon discredited, denied access, disciplined or fired. It's
much easier for journalists to choose the freedom of Bush's way
- freedom to keep your job, freedom to put food on your family.
Maybe that's why, when Bush speaks, the media are driven into
an obscene adjectival frenzy. Each word is Soaring. Idealistic.
Visionary. Breathtaking. Inspirational.
And that's just Fox News.
Over at CNN, on the morning of the inaugural, White House prop
Suzanne Malveaux giddily revealed that Bush "has a glow about him!"
Judy Woodruff - who moaned when Bush heroically climbed from the
fighter jet on the U.S.S Abraham Lincoln after he "won" the war
in Iraq, "Oh, just look at him! He looks like a rock star!" - picked
up the phrase and dutifully reported, "It's being said at the White
House that President Bush has a glow about him this morning." Not
to be outdone, later that evening, Wolf Blitzer gravely announced,
"Some officials are saying that President Bush is more relaxed for
his second inaugural. They're saying he has a glow about him."
It matters little to the media that perhaps Bush has a perpetual
glow about him because his pants are continuously on fire. What
does matter to the US media is that each time Bush parrots,
"Because I am resolved. Because I never make mistakes. Because I
say so," they're free to pile on without asking questions - they're
free to wallow in a sloppy, damage-control heap in a parallel Abu
And when History snaps this photograph, you can bet there will
be a smirking George Bush crouching over them, giving the ol' Texas
"Hook Em Horns" victory sign.
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.
*Mac Davis C&W song