So this guy Zack says he’s been watching me, and I’m at it again. He says the only thing I’m good for is just one ad hominem attack after another on my "favorite of scorn" (whatever that is)
— George W. Bush.
Zack says he’ll give me $100 if I can write a piece on Bush extolling a single aspect of his personality; if I can cite just one credible attribute of his character or discuss even one good point about Bush.
I rarely take homework assignments from Frights (friends on the right), especially those who view any critical analysis of Bush as a vicious attack, even if backed up by extensive research, facts and unimpeachable witnesses. Zack says it’s a challenge and, after assuring me there would be "no name calling…no brow beating…not even any criticism," he reminded me that my "mindless bias, my overwhelming propensity towards indulging myself with ad hominem attacks toward those with whom I disagree — and other character flaws," literally make it impossible for me to do such a project.
Well. All righty then. In ad-hominem jargon, this is known as "poisoning the well." And, anyone brave enough to enter an argument which begins with a well-poisoning should know that the stage has already been set with insults and attacks upon his or her own personal integrity. Therefore, at the outset, the argument is less likely to be about George W. Bush than it is about me as an argurer.
So I accept. Not just because I can’t resist things that are, like, totally about me. And for sure, not because Zack brags that he’s famous for "scorching would-be literary giants" over at the venerable Lew Rockwell site, where Zack says he says he sports a reputation as a "lunatic — a Christo-Fascist Corporatist Warmonger who delights in insulting writers." Not even because Zack questions the ethics of any website that would publish a faux writer like me, who is in reality "just a person with a case of vomitis maximis."
No, I accept the challenge because I am reminded of the delightful Peter DePaulo, who won the 1925 Indy 500. A $100 bonus was paid to drivers for each lap they led the race back then. DePaulo was the first to crack the 100-mph benchmark that year; his hands were covered with painful blisters, but a grinning DePaulo said all he could think about each time he passed the flagstand was "hunnerd bucks…hunnerd bucks…hunnerd bucks…"
I can’t write about Bush’s personality because, from exploding frogs to branding plebs to taunting and killing prison inmates to torturing detainees, Bush’s personality seems pretty cruel and revengeful. Perhaps it’s not his fault, but a genetic thing. Not being a psychologist, I can only wonder about a childhood so bereft of parental guidance that it produced a mean-spirited junkyard-dog adult who believes that inflicting pain is the only way to get attention or to gain, and retain, control of others.
Ad-hominemly speaking, it appears that this sad and dangerous man with the hyper-imagination of a cartoonish Buzz Lightyear lives in his own Magic Kingdom where whatever he says is true must be true because he’s the leader. He cannot, or will not, admit that there is more to spreading democracy than dousing people in purple ink. He cannot, or will not, see that, rather than being on the march, freedom in Iraq is on the run. A dead run.
And, unfortunately, I can’t write about Bush’s character because each time I make the attempt, I turn into a modern-day Sam Kinison on steroids. Actually, Bush has a lot of character, but one doesn’t have to read Aristotle’s Poetics to recognize it is the embodiment of twisted and perveted ethos. Sadly, our society is rapidly beginning to mirror Bush’s character — we are devoid of both sympathy and empathy; we have no compassion for the vulnerable nor for the innocent, we refuse to hear the cries of those who are crushed by our greed.
Bush’s character is still evolving — he has created an unjust society wherein he has been successful thus far in ruling through fear, propaganda and violence, which he uses indiscriminately to achieve whatever options are piled on that symbolic table he keeps pointing to…
No. I cannot write about Bush’s character. Wouldn’t be prudent.
But surely, for a hunnerd bucks I can come up with a good point about Bush. Maybe even more than one. For starters, he dupes folks — from dishwashers to race-car drivers to university professors to born-again Christians to the Pope.
Bush is a Super Duper. For example, in a congressional report compiled by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee and released in mid-March, Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice made "a combined total of 237 misleading public statements on the threat posed by Iraq."
Think about it. A veritable infestation of lies resulting in injury and death for hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, far too many of them women and children; and the unnecessary deaths of more than 1,500 US citizens. Almost 17,000 US troops have been injured or maimed — with a whopping 9,524 of that number evacuated because of disease.
Bush is getting away with it. That’s a good thing. At least from Bush’s point of view and Zack’s point of view and, of course, that of the Frights, who are in over their heads — in way too deep to back out now. Hey, with an election looming in 2006, that could be a very good thing.
But the really really good thing about George Bush is that he’s the Robert Redford of campaigning. He’s a Natural. The best that ever was. Every time he comes back to the White House, Karl Rove arms him with fresh talking points and sends him back out on the stump. Bush never deviates from those points; he doesn’t have to, because his audiences are purchased wind-up toys programmed to cheer each time he pauses for breath. Look at the three injurious tax cuts he inflicted on the lower and middle classes in this country over the past four years, the education, health and welfare budgets he’s cut with scarcely a whimper from those affected — the environment he’s desecrated.
Anything he can’t get passed during the day, Bush passes all by himself at night via Executive Order. Assassinations, coups, torture? You bet. Faith-based initiatives? No problem. Violate Title 36 of the US Code and fly the Stars and Stripes for a Polish Pope in Italy? Hey, I’ve gotcher separation of church and state right here — at half mast…
Bush is never better than when explaining his position on an issue. His campaign on privatizing Social Security is nothing if not awesome. When backed into a corner about his insistence that private accounts would shore up Social Security, he slipped effortlessly into explaining that African Americans should rush to get what had now become "personal" rather than private accounts because black folks die so much sooner than white folks, and that all younger folks should want personal accounts because — well, because it’s a better deal.
Of course, Bush has no clue as to what Social Security is. Some might recall during the 2000 campaign when Al Gore kept hammering about putting Social Security in a "lock box," Bush, bored with the subject, rolled his eyes and commented that the way Gore talked, "you’d think Social Security was some kind of government program…." And, during a February campaign stop in Tampa, Fla., after Bush had run through his talking points, a bewildered woman asked Bush to explain again, in words that she could understand, how his plan would fix the Social Security problem. Bush replied haltingly:
"Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There’s a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It’s kind of muddled. Look, there’s a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate — the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those — if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."
Wow. I have to admit if that plan passes congressional inspection, Bush is good. Damn good.
So give me my hunnerd bucks.