how many out there feel that the sitting U.S.
president is an embarrassment?
politics, for a minute, and be honest. Ever slink
down in your seat when at the national convention
your local chairman addressed the masses and got
exposed as a doofus in over his head? Worst yet,
your child gets his big moment before the packed
house at the stage-play and his light goes completely
shame may well be that nagging ache in the lower
mesentery that Americans are beginning to feel
- but not yet admit - about their 43rd president.
latest exhibition occurred Tuesday when President
George W. Bush addressed the United Nations. Bush's
most devoted defenders are joining his parents,
who've known all along, that his finger on the
nuclear trigger endangers the very future of the
republic. That sucking sound you heard last week
was these earnest patriots collectively slinking
down in their seats.
the world witnessed the bloo! diest days of his
Iraq occupation, Bush rose before the General
Assembly and walked, as only he can walk, straight
through the looking glass. "Freedom is finding
a way in Iraq," the president said, even as militants
separated the second American hostage from his
head in as many days. Preceding Bush at the UN
rostrum, Secretary General Kofi Annan had warned
the world body "the rule of law is at risk around
such risks concerned Bush on his stroll behind
the looking glass. Still, it was not just the
disconnect of this president from reality that
exposes the republic. The fault-line runs much
deeper and it is as structural as it is personal.
The structural must await another visit, but the
personal is unfolding apace.
the secret to each of us lies in our childhood,
so too is it with Bush. Far more important than
what Bush did with his lost days in the Alabama
National Guard is how little prep-school "Georgie"
was conditioned to solve problems and deal! with
the real world. His parents, of course, are aware
of their oldest child's manifest shortcomings
and must be horrified at the prospects of the
rest of us discovering them.
the best efforts of the media, the public is gaining
insight into their president as the facts leak
out and as Kitty Kelley's "The Family: The Real
Story of the Bush Dynasty," tops the sales chart.
Laying aside Bush's raucous drinking, the cocaine
charges and his lifelong exploitation of his "legacy,"
his formative years are instructive indeed about
the president who started a needless war to beat
his chest as a "war president." His background
explains as well the president who is unimaginably
ignorant of the history, culture and aspirations
of the 191 nations that he addressed the other
day at the General Assembly.
macho swagger we saw at the UN podium was not
so much Texas cowboy as wannabe athlete. "Georgie"
could dribble a basketball with but one hand,
and, unlike his father, coul! d hit a baseball
not at all. So he settled for the Yale cheerleading
squad with the reputation of a "jock sniffer."
his flirtation with war, Bush opted for the trappings.
"He wasn't the stud jock that everyone liked,"
recalled Ken White, a classmate at Yale, in Kelley's
book. "But he did have a bad-boy swagger that's
appealing to other guys," an attraction that continues
at least among white guys. "He smoked unfiltered
Lucky Strikes to be macho."
pseudo-macho scion of a prominent political family
took every advantage of class privilege that got
him to third base under the delusion that he had
hit a triple. At Andover, Yale and Harvard business
school, this swaggering mediocrity nestled at
the bottom of every class, perplexed by achievers
not of his class, to say nothing of his race.
At Andover, Bush reportedly sported on his wall
a Confederate flag that might have repelled Andover's
two blacks, and perhaps the one Puerto Rican,
in its class of 290.
was, however, Bush's towering lack of intellect
that defined him. "That (Bush) coasted on his
family name was understandable," said Yale frat
brother Tom Wilner. "Lots of guys do that. But
Georgie, as we called him then, has absolutely
no intellectual curiosity about anything. He wasn't
interested in ideas or books or causes. He didn't
travel; he didn't read the newspapers; he didn't
watch the news ... How he got out of Yale without
developing some interest in the world besides
booze and sports stuns me."
down bogus war records and irrelevant cocaine
tips, the media have missed the boat on the background
of the gloating "war president." It was Wilner
who loosed the most salient line in Kelley's book:
"Hell, it's not George's substance abuse that
bothers me as much as his lack of substance."
this not cause for national embarrassment? Think
© 2004, Newsday, Inc.
Posted: September 29, 2004