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The Madness of King George
July 5, 2003
By a_random_joel

Commercials 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 September 11th.

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 soon."

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."


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