Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The A**holery of Our President

A quick note: I've added a "word verification" feature to the comments section of the blog, so as to prevent mass spamming therein, which I've had to delete much to my lazy annoyance. It will add about 5 seconds to your ability to tell me that I am full of s***, a waiting-period that may cause you to reflect and realize that I am, in fact, correct, as is inevitably the case.

That said, I return to the issue at hand: The a**holery of Bush. 9/11 showed us Bush the Lightweight. Those infamous minutes ticked by as he was reading "My Pet Goat" to those kids--kids who, if they'd been told that the country was under attack, would have at least had the intellectual fortitude to ask a few more questions: By whom? How badly? Shouldn't I be leaving now rather than endangering the lives of the other children, since someone might be trying to kill me? But then, those kids probably paid attention while they went to school. His pathetic excuse after the fact that he "didn't want to upset the kids" is just gut-wrenchingly stupid and offensive, especially since there were a lot MORE kids being SERIOUSLY traumatized while he sat in that classroom. But that thought would have required him to do math, which, as his plan to cut taxes without wrecking the progress on the national debt shows, is not his strong suit. Bush froze. Watch "Fahrenheit 9/11"--you may mute Mr. Moore's commentary, if you find such things offensive--and just watch, in silence, those minutes tick by. It's excruciating to think that this man had absolutely no idea what to do. Hell, even simple cowardice would have sufficed--it actually would have prompted him to get up, run like hell to safety, and there be able to calm down and take stock of situation. Which would have been the responsible thing to do as well. But instead, he froze. Don't get me wrong--I might have done so, too. But then, I'm not supposed to be a cut above the average man--I'm not the leader of a country. And if I were--I'd probably be prepared mentally for action at the drop of a hat, much less a couple of planes. A dismal moment for all of us, that "possum in the halogen-beams of a BMW" look on his face.

As bad as that was--and it was--I think we're now seeing something far worse. Yes, Bush is completely inadequate to the challenges of the era in which he happened to be elected. But in his cavalier response to Katrina's destruction of New Orleans--for God's sake, 80% of the city is under water, though Bush doesn't recognize that figure, because he never scored that high at any school he ever attended--he's showed himself for the true a**hole he is. He simply does not care. He doesn't. Now, to be fair, I've never quite understood the necessity of the president visiting the site of disaster relief. I mean, what the hell can he really do, except for pose for photo-ops, showing how much he cares? But even such a pointless effort is beyond him, for now. Because now we are seeing Bush the A**hole. This diagnosis is based on his decision to wait out one more day of his vacation--one more day to ignore Ms. Sheehan, one more day to clear brush and ride his bike--then just fly over the site on his way home--"Yep, sure is a lotta water down there"--based on the wretched speech he gave when he landed (the NY Times called it the worst he's ever given, which is a bit hyperbolic, but still), and that smug grin he gave when he gave us that 'everything's gonna be all right' routine as he left.

You know what, Mr. President? It isn't. It really, really isn't. We're not going to be able to fix this. New Orleans is f***ed. Seriously and thoroughly f***ed. In large part because your people ignored pleas to shore up the levees that broke and made a storm-based natural disaster a flood-based natural disaster. In large part because you've sent a ridiculous amount of National Guardsmen (and -women, I suppose) to Iraq to pursue your pointless war, and thus eliminating crucial man-power (and woman-power, I suppose) from where it's now desperately needed. In large part because you waited to send something as basic as drinking water to a city that is now an open sewer. But mostly, Mr. President, mostly? Mostly New Orleans is f***ed because you are an a**hole.

Rewatch Ordinary People, and you see the quiet evil of the American WASP, portrayed by Mary Tyler Moore--she's not actually malicious, she's not deliberately cruel, but when confronted by the pain of others--by the "mess" that caring and involving herself in alleviating that pain, she cold-bloodedly refuses to acknowledge that the pain exists in the first place. Such is the evil of Bush. He really does not understand, not for one second, the suffering of others. He can, I've been told, turn on the water-works when confronted by war widows and bereft parents of soldiers (ones that have been, presumably, pre-screened not to ask impertinent questions), but such cheap sentimentality isn't "caring"--it's the safety of feeling like a good, sympathetic person when you know that in a few minutes, this weeping woman will be gone and you'll never have to deal with her again. Hey, I cried when I watched Brian's Song--all men do, for some reason--it's actually one of the few movies where you're less of a man if you don't cry--but just because I cried doesn't make me a good person. And Bush isn't. Because as soon as those women leave the room, he's back to slashing veteran's benefits with vicious disregard to the merciless havok he's playing on the broken lives of men and women who fought in his war--making sure that, perversely enough, the ones who die in Iraq are the lucky ones.

Make no mistake: He doesn't give a s*** about New Orleans. The local people there--the disaster relief workers, in particular--remain appalled at the lack of federal response. This is a time when America shows itself at its best--citizens in the surrounding states are opening their homes to those who are refugees--there's a genuine lump-in-the-throat quality to the sudden generosity and decency of strangers who see only that others are suffering and can't help but respond with loving compassion. (I might add that I bet you a lot of these people are inspired by Christian principles, so let's keep that in mind even as we bash those who want to teach Intelligent Design.) But not from Bush. He tells us that America will be stronger for having endured this. Very Nietzschean, Mr. President. But you won't endure anything. You won't suffer for a moment. It is a cheap and easy thing to say. And you're doing very little to create this prospective strength. Mostly you're sitting back and letting things unfold. Your place is at the Superdome, Mr. President, making sure that the huddled masses there have food and blankets and someplace bearable to sleep. Your place is taking calls from the people on the ground and giving them whatever they ask for, NOW. Your place is located somewhere in the ability to let your spirit go forth from whatever cave it lurks in and recognize that other people exist and that their suffering actually matters more than your comfortable detachment, because you took an oath that it would be so. It's time to stop being an a**hole, Mr. President.

Of course, being an a**hole, you'll do no such thing.


Blogger Jason said...

Nice rant there. It's times like this when one wants to just watch The West Wing and pretend, yes? Would a President Sheen -ever- go on vacation??

8:07 PM  

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