by Michael Hammerschlag
"The President spoke to a meeting in Indiana....", the news said, and I wondered what the Big Dog was up to now. "And then," as the smug woman says in the IBM ads, "it hits you" -- -- its Bush!!! It's like the difference between House and house, or, in the teenage horror movies, "the killer is inside the house". For anyone who cares about the economy, environment, health care, foreign policy, poverty, or women’s freedoms; the killer is inside the house. Bush's reign has been unmitigated disaster, worse than I even imagined it could be: in every field he's been a single-minded automaton working to pay off his corporate debts. Not distracted by logic, science, decency, or compassion, he has blithely punched the Company clock for big oil, big banks, big electricity -- and lo and behold Exxon is the No. 1 Corp. in the world.
If President Bush's Texas reign is any indication, he will work tirelessly in the service of his corporate sponsors for a year and a half, do little else, and then stop. But he might not have the chance. The honeymoon may already be over. The opiated jackals of the press seem to have reached their stupidity saturation point; an accumulation of idiocy that's simply too great to ignore. First there were the howls of protest over Bush's mild reneging on global warming, a priority only the delusional thought Bush had. Of course global warming was a safe thing to call him on -- there is no absolutely no political will for meaningful legislation on global warming (p2) and India's and China's massive use of coal will render it moot anyway. The great danger for Bush is that the press will go into a vicious feedback loop like they did about Gore’s imaginary lies and, fed by Bush's steady linguistic lacerations, will decide the STORY is that our President is an imbecile. Since there is ample evidence to prove that, the stories, and the drumbeat, could become a steady roar. Bush's entertaining self-ridicule may not work for long. His "beloved" quotient is way lower than Reagan's: we like our presidents to be funny, but not be a joke.
All one has to do is to study our Loser in Chief's 'deer in the headlight' eyes as he fumbles desperately for some butchered junior high school cliché and then... is simply finished. Once you get past the mindless hackneyed sound bite, there is nothing else. He has nothing else to say because there is nothing in his head, so he immediately changes the subject or scuttles away. He is an embarrassment to our country. En masse, Europe has come to the same conclusion -- with Mr. Bush's repeated slaps the face, punches to the stomach, and knees to the groin over global warming, missile defense and SALT and ABM violations of established treaties, spurning of earlier overtures to N. Korea, Russia + the Palestinians, reckless piggish tax policy, isolationism, and love of oil. Of course, they were shocked and horrified when he won anyway.
Bush's raison d'etre seems to be vengeance (once he's funneled enough billions into his corporate sponsors coffers): vengeance against California for the audacity to vote for Gore, vengeance at the Harvard liberals who dared ridicule him for his retrograde conservatism -- him, scion of Poppy, hard drinking, skirt chasing, fly boy -- they laughed at him? Who were they to laugh at him? He would show them all. Much of Bush's motivation can be traced back to this humiliation at the hands of overbred prep school kids. They can be savage to a West Texas cracker, as my Texan friends have explained to me (esp. during the 60’s). Lacking true physical or academic gifts, Mr. Bush applied himself to relentless ingratiating and politickin, which is still the secret of his success. His primary reason to run for president at all was to avenge his father's loss, but his alleged vast shame at his father's rejection at the hands of the populace shows his misplaced entitlement-- the Presidency isn't a right -- it has to be earned every time and its loss to a better man isn't a great shame or a personal rejection.
It is this deep conviction of the Bush superiority -- this business of character that's so inexplicable, coming from a 15 year nasty drunk who had every door opened for him, every failure cushioned and reversed, from a man whose ordained right to win wouldn't be prevented by a little thing like a half million votes. Any true man of character could never have assumed the Presidency after losing by such a popular margin, let alone fought so virulently and dishonestly to wrest it from his opponent. This obsession with cleansing the White House of Clinton's real and imagined sins is inexplicable, when Bush's nights of debauchery and vomit far surpassed Billy boy's (not to mention his girlfriend's abortion). Maybe it's his born-again religiosity from which he derives such arrogance, hubris, and hypocrisy.
The Enron palm-greasing (lifting price-gouging controls on power) has devastated the Cal. economy and bankrupted the power co., which since all things roll downhill from Cal., will percolate malignantly through the rest of the economy. Bush may get the full scale recession he’s been promoting. The bankruptcy bill payoff to credit card companies (his largest contributors) has a particularly bitter irony coming from a man who would have been forced into bankruptcy 3 times without rich family "friends" eager for the cachet and influence of the Bush name. He directly financially benefits from most of his legislation, just as he did in Texas. In these billions of dollars of sleazy payoffs, Mr. Bush has in only 2 months become the most corrupt President in American history.
In the spy scandal, Bush's vast overreaction was unwarranted and unwise: in our burrowing under the Russian embassy in Washington we were committing a far greater transgression. Since they have far more spies than we do, ejecting 50 of each leave us at a grave disadvantage. In fact, it may have been an excuse for getting rid of Democrats in the Moscow embassy who would oppose Mr. Bush's idiotic missile defense project and reject a harder line. Meanwhile Putin has assumed control of the other two television networks, and is moving to place the entire press under his thumb.
On the other hand, his weakness and toadying to China after the downing of our spy plane by an incompetent aggressive Chinese fighter jock is frankly dangerous- if you talk tough, and then act craven, you embolden your enemies to greater outrages. The bullying Chinese, who’ve killed up to 1/5 of Tibet in a half century physical + cultural genocide and constantly threaten Taiwan (separate since 1897), can’t be offended- lest Wal-Mart be forced out of business in 4 months by an embargo. For a decade we’ve allowed a grubby obsession with trade to obscure our support for human rights, but even Clinton sent 2 carrier groups to the South China Sea when the Chinese lobbed missiles 22 miles from Taiwan’s cities and had 150,000 troop “exercises” across from Taiwan.
Regarding our wondering at how Bush could graduate from 2 Ivy League schools without being able to read (perhaps with massive donations- It’s Only Words), we got an interesting answer from Herb Epstein:
--“How does a "mentally challenged" legacy student like George W graduate from Yale when he could barely read and write? I was a graduate student at Yale and did some teaching while Bush was an undergraduate. "legacy student." A certain number of places were guaranteed to sons of alumni. The short answer is that it was very difficult to give any Yale student a failing grade for a course and almost impossible to give them enough failing grades to prevent their graduating. I'm an expert on this subject because I tried to give two failing grades (out of about 75 students) in a course I taught and graded on Soviet foreign policy. (No, Bush was not one of them). Suffice to say that even after I proved plagiarism to the satisfaction of a board of professors, the university administration reversed my grade and the board's ruling and allowed the legacy student to pass with the minimum grade. They didn't dispute that he had plagiarized. The fact that he had previously been reprimanded for the same offense somehow had no bearing. Needless to say this kid's family give big bucks to Yale before and after the incident.
Next comes the question of how George W got into Harvard B School. He first applied to U of Texas Law School and was turned down. Despite the fact that it was his home state, he had no legacy. He had to compete. Undoubtedly he was rejected because of his poor undergraduate record and his low LSAT scores. How could George W, who was a history major, and who couldn't get into the U of Texas Law School, gain admission to the most competitive, prestigious grad school in the country --Harvard B school.?” ---- Herb Epstein
On another front, Bush is moving against the ‘Day After’ pill, because it’s use would prevent illegitimacy… but that’s how he came to power.
Copyright © 2001 Michael Hammerschlag
Michael Hammerschlag has written commentaries for Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Honolulu Advertiser; MediaChannel, Moscow News, Tribune, and + Guardian; was a TV reporter and produced a documentary series on the Presidential primaries. His website is http://mikehammer.tripod.com e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org