Dubya: The Shallow Fake
January 2, 2007 11:35am CST
As his personal approval ratings plummet in the wake of the unravelling of his Iraqi policy and his startling lethargy in response to natural disasters, the essential vacuity of Bush’s beliefs and abilities come into clearer focus. Indeed, that Bush is a second-rate “Method” actor is no longer at issue. Although a child of the liberal 1960’s, Bush made a conscious decision not to embrace the progressive political and cultural watersheds that were symbolic of that era. But, in so doing, he purposely chose a lifestyle option – to be a “regular guy” – and has spent three decades “performing” in that assumed persona, on the political stage. However, as all those familiar with Method acting are aware, the ability to reflect is a key component of successful execution of an assumed persona. And this is where Bush falls well short of the mark. In attempting to project an image of ordinariness, he places a premium on the degree of “reality” he can project; but, as a religious fundamentalist who believes in absolutes, any act of reflection is regarded as a diminution of these absolutist beliefs – there is no room for uncertainty in Bush’s narrow, bathetic view of the world. Hence, his employment of vague over-simplications in his addresses - the term “speech” is not warranted – reinforce this desire to create straightforward absolutes that deliberately refute the obvious complexities of many political and economic issues. A key feature of his assumed persona is that of the “Texan cowboy”, a figure associated with masculine certainty and all-American rural virtue. This, too, is an act, and another conscious decision to divorce himself from his true past, ie.,that of a member of a patrician family from the north-east US. The aspiration to be seen in an alternative persona was driven by the abject mediocrity of his achievements in expensive schools and his leveraged entry into a top university. But, his awkward adoption of this Texan persona made him useful to native Texans who could take advantage of his connections by simply including him in their oil-business activities. His worth as a dupe exploited by wiser, more experienced men, can now also be seen in The White House. Bush’s adversity to unscripted public appearances bears witness to this dependency. It is a sad indictment of the shallow identity politics prevalent in America that this lack of a convincing persona actually serves to strengthen his appeal among many of the electorate, who respond with enthusiasm to words and deeds of child-like simplicity that actively eschew the contextual complexities of the modern world. The emotion generated by the trauma of 9/11 provided Bush with a strong pretext to peddle both his fake persona and his vacuous policies, which are now being seen for the folly that they are. In summing up George W Bush, I would adapt the adage of Pearl S Buck: “The bitterest creature under heaven is the nation that discovers that their President’s bravery is only bravado, that his strength only stems from his position, that his power is but a gun in the hands of a fool.
• United States
3 Jan 07
President Bush has been a great president and a great world leader. Whoever wrote this discussion is obviously clueless and is filled with the typical liberal democrat hatred of anything that is good. President Bush has had major victory in Iraq, and despite the noise from the democrats, has never backed off from his strong leadership.