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...*
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 remotely curious.
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
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
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 20
minutes in a threatening “Climb Aboard the Bush Freedom Train or You're Dead
Strangely, I had a “vision” of my own during that 20
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 eternally right.
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
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
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 Yo Mama impertinence, “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 about me.”
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 campaign.
According to Kitty Kelly in her best-selling book,
The Family (pp. 446-451), Poppy's staff called Bush Junior "the enforcer
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
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
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, really scary”; to the unsinkable Helen
Thomas, who -- in spite of being demoted, banished, and cast aside for four
years -- says, “Bite me....”
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 a
“1984” 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 we do.”
The reality is that the few reporters like Suskind, the New Yorker's
Seymour Hersh, NBC's Ashley Banfield or the BBC's Kate Addie, 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
Maybe that's why, when Bush speaks, the media are driven into an obscene
adjectival frenzy. Each word is Soaring. Idealistic. Visionary.
And that's just Fox News.
Over at CNN, on the morning of the inaugural, White House prop Suzanne
Malvoux 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 Ghraib reality.
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”
* Mac Davis CW song
Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US
Army Public Information Officer, and a regular contributor for a variety of
Internet sites. Contact her at
firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2005 Sheila Samples
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