The End of An Irritant
Rational people, when faced with a massive failure of their own making, normally take some time for private circumspection and avoid further contact with the public, at least until the outrage of the torch-wielding villagers has subsided. But that’s not our Crawford Dauphin, whose capacity for realistic introspection is String Theory microcosmic while his unrefined chutzpah remains as large and lumbering as his political party’s logo.
Such is the case with this recent series of cringe-inducing Bush ‘exit interviews’ wherein Our Worst President Ever insists on trying to polish a turd that was flushed away years ago in the receding waters of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Even with the prodigious help of future cellmates like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, assiduously applying the spit shine of hastily rewritten history to the ‘Bush Legacy Project’ (a slim library containing the works of Niccolo Machiavelli, Chuck Palahniuk’s “Stranger Than Fiction,” a copy of George Orwell’s “1984” annotated in red ink by Lee Atwater, tracts by Aimee Semple McPherson, the collected speeches of Father Charles Coughlin and Herbert Hoover, and, of course, the paint-by-number version of “My Pet Goat”) the Little President That Couldn’t continues to maintain approval ratings that read like an Iowa thermometer in January.
Bush, in his stubbornly obtuse inability to recognize the spreading stain when he’s wet his pants, admits to few mistakes and those that he grudgingly examples are of such a pathetic and hilariously off-target nature that he must be moonlighting as a monologue writer for David Letterman.
In his last press conference (thank you, merciful Jeebus), he assigned as one of his mistakes the “Mission Accomplished” banner that decorated the space behind his head during his ludicrous publicity stunt aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in May of 2003. Neglecting to apologize for the pusillanimous White House fib that the banner was created by grateful sailors and not Rove’s relentless propaganda machine, this was characteristic of Junior’s endless fusillade of misguided missiles: The mistake was the banner — not the phony and unnecessary Hollywood PR stunt, not declaring a premature end to combat operations, not the trumped-up unnecessary war itself just the banner.
This event encapsulates the entire eight years of Bush’s failed residency in the Oval Office. There was no reason, other than Rove’s fevered obsession with primping his oblivious client as some sort of war hero, to dress up the graying Bush as a young fighter jock and have him ferried to the carrier via Navy jet. Past presidents handled such ceremonies with a modicum of dignity in a civilian business suit and relied on a helicopter for transport but then they didn’t need a flight deck and surrounding throng of ordered-to-be-there fawning sailors to indemnify their masculinity the way Junior does. A touch of cosmic comedy was added as President Top Gun forgot to release the crotch straps on his Fly Boy get-up; although apparently too dull to notice, or too inept to unhook them himself, the imperial testicles were no doubt reminded of the pain of command.
So this was the repeated play that Americans have been forced to witness for nearly a decade; a shambling, awkward boy-child, insecure in himself, incessantly pretending to be a simple, resolute man with the experience, virtue and wisdom to make the proper decisions and perpetually foiled by the forgotten crotch strap of reality biting into his flesh. Every pretend heroic moment has turned into a tragic farce, the stage set by Bush’s own words when he occasionally slipped and uttered the truth. Recall when Candidate Bush said he would be the “CEO president,” and that he was basically “a media creation”?
Before his illegal coronation by the Supreme Court, if anyone attempting acts of journalism besides the battered left side of the blogosphere had bothered to closely examine Bush’s history in business they would have discovered a crooked trail of fumbled disasters, all of them ending in Poppy Bush’s hapless eldest son requiring his parents or family friends to extricate him from the messes he caused, from which he also curiously extracted a profit. Junior’s proudly announcing that he planned to be an extra-constitutional CEO president, considering the model for most corporate top dogs is Joseph Stalin rather than Thomas Jefferson, should have been seen as the national threat it was by the adoring choir of the Big Media, but they were too busy even before the 2000 ‘selection’ testing their voices for proper harmony with the marketing jingles of the new Republican Regime.
And imagine some other president Kennedy, Carter, Clinton, even Nixon — confessing in their day that they were really an artificial personality manufactured by a shady political promoter to peddle an ideology of ‘them that’s got are them that gets’ to the public against the people’s interests? Our sturdier parents and grandparents would have been denouncing this empty fake at bars, restaurants, kitchen tables and VFW halls across the land. Yet the snobby insider pundits, the vacant television stalagmites, and the cocktail-party bumpkins of the Washington press corps, as well as the bribed bloviators of the right, applauded, encouraged and disseminated the deception, even awarding the title of ‘genius’ to its primary progenitor in return for access to the House of Fraud, the good tidings of the vicious new barbarians and, perhaps, a pot of gold at the end of the dark rainbow.
It’s typical of Bush in his final days that he would attempt to forge his largest blunders, such as the response to Katrina and the bumbled occupation of Iraq, into medals of achievement; that he would blame his mistakes on intelligence officers that he somehow neglected to dismiss; that he would mock those who indulge in self-pity and then pity himself for all of the hard decisions he was forced to make. In his career in public life, Junior hasn’t learned a thing except how to shift responsibility to fall guys, nearly generate believable emotion for the camera, rely on others to do the heavy lifting, and read, or often misread, a Teleprompter.
Tellingly, a month ago his approval ratings hovered in the 25 to 27-point range; after this final concentrated attempt at history-altering huckstering, including a ‘who cares’ last ‘major address’ on January 15th, public approval in yesterday’s CBS News/New York Times/Gallup poll has dropped to 22 points the lowest for any president since the advent of political polling. (Another lesson Junior failed to learn keep your mouth shut when every time you open it you become less popular.)
As the intelligent, articulate and charismatic Barack Obama enters the Oval Office with the wind at his back, Bush slouches out the back door, a dismal figure allegedly convinced history will eventually accord him a place in the pantheon of Great Presidents; probably Buchanan, Pierce and Tyler thought the same thing.
But he’s as wrong on that score as he has been about everything else: In the end, Bush will be remembered by history as an embarrassing quirk; a reminder of the dangers of handing power over to a pious ‘Lord of the Fleas’ wedded firmly to an anti-democratic ideology dreamed up by the courtesans of the wealthy; a dire warning of the evils of mixing marketing with politics, and, ultimately, a flash in the pan magnified by the machinations of Karl Rove and the American corporate mass media into a bonfire and one created solely of the vacuous vanities and contemptible crassness of the Potomac Prattlers and the neoconservative Republican Rattlers for which they stand.