Presidency: George Will Be George
Mr. Shenkman is the editor of HNN.Following his first meeting with Vladimir Putin George Bush famously remarked that the Russian president can be trusted. What was it he said? Oh yeah. He’s a “remarkable leader,” an “honest straightforward man.” Bush looked into Putin’s “soul” and came away convinced he “loves his family.” Ugh.
But what the pundits who rightly ridiculed Bush’s comments neglected to point out was that it was the same thing he has been saying for years about people he meets. When he has nothing to say he retreats into gauzy generalizations. As others have noted, one of his favorite lines is that so-and-so is a “good man.”
After living with President Bush for just six months we are already tiring of him and his generalizations. Walk into a room when he is on television and see how many people are bothering to watch. So why does he keep repeating glib comments?
It cannot just be that he has nothing to say. Handlers could supply him with a few interesting lines, as they often did for Reagan. But Bush obviously doesn’t think he needs to sound more intelligent. He almost seems to relish the opportunity not to sound intelligent.
This is a shocking thought, but not to somebody with Bush’s past. We all create myths about ourselves. If we are successful, the myths we associate with our success become a part of our identity. One of the central Bush myths is that he can get away with not studying and still come out on top. He doesn’t have to work hard. He can charm his way out of any corner he gets into.
The myth was on full display at Yale when he delivered what surely must be one of the most curious commencement addresses ever given by a president. C students should know that they too can get to be president of the United States, he remarked.
The myth is appealing in a way. Bush as Huck Finn, the kid who plays the game by his own rules, the pol who doesn’t believe in polls. And it fits perfectly with Bush’s record as the first son of an overachiever. Rather than compete with his father’s legacy as the star of the Yale baseball team and the hero navy flier in World War II, George W. plays the clown and goes for laughs and fun.
He has now demonstrated to one and all-—and especially perhaps to his doubting mother, who even discouraged him from running for governor--that he actually is to be taken seriously. But he still doesn’t want us thinking he is in the same game his father was. His father cared what people thought of him. W., as Tucker Carlson astutely pointed out in his celebrated TALK profile, doesn’t.
This is the same guy after all who told Carlson he doesn’t even care if his rich backers are insulted when he diminishes the importance of acquiring wealth. “I don’t care. I really don’t care. Does anyone ever say, ‘Fuck you?’ I don’t care if they do.”
We have gone from a president who cared so much what people think of him that he was willing to tell MTV what kind of underpants he wears to a president who cares so little that he was willing to use the word “fuck” in a formal interview with a journalist at a time when he was running as the born-again Christian, Hollywood values be damned, character candidate.
Frank Sinatra meet your soul mate. This guy’s really committed to doing things his way.
So W. after six months seems very much the man he was after his first month. Detached, disengaged, a nine to fiver. We want him to grow. He doesn’t want to grow. That would mean growing into the kind of man WE want him to be. That would mean meeting our expectations, when only his count.
A president cannot succeed by loafing and goofing off and sounding like a kid in over his head. But Bush seems to think he can. Even during the most serious crisis of his young presidency—when our spy plane was forced to land on Chinese soil—he seemed curiously uninformed. In public he read off note cards. In private he left the handling of the crisis to aides. Astonishingly, it was subsequently revealed, he met with Colin Powell during the two week crisis on only three occasions.
He and his apologists have tried to turn his detachment into an asset. We are supposed to think that he is governing the country the way a corporate chieftain runs AT&T or IBM. The president as CEO. But no CEO worth his salt believes in his heart that he can be successful by being uninformed. And yet W. does. He not only is uninformed. He wants us to believe he is. He wants to show us he can do this job his way.
In a character like Huck, this quality can be highly attractive. But in somebody with power and money and connections it is simply arrogance. Bush can be careless because he can be. Unlike the rest of us mere mortals, he doesn’t have to work hard to pay the mortgage or curry favor with his boss.
The danger is not arrogance, however. Most presidents are arrogant. You think FDR wasn’t arrogant? Or John Kennedy? Only the abnormally self-confident run for the office. The great danger is that Bush actually believes the myth he has lived his life by. If he thinks he can charm his way through four years in the oval office, he is in for a rude awakening.
But to expect Bush to reinvent himself is unreasonable. Indeed, one of the reasons he is president and not Al Gore is that he convinced the country he is who he is, like it or not. As Carlson put it,"George W. Bush doesn’t give a damn what you think of him. That may be why you’ll vote for him for president.”
While he will shift positions on CO2 and vouchers and constantly offer differing explanations for his tax cut, he won’t soon switch the self-myth he created. Bush will break promises, shifting this way and that in response to political pressure. But he is likely to remain the same person he always has been.
Presidents do grow in office, even if they don’t want to. Bush can be expected to grow, too. But become a new person? Forget it. W. will be W.
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Qworx - 7/30/2001
Fr: Alex - Best Regards
If you put these two sets of information together you get this: the american taxpayers can not afford to pay for two governments that are notoriously wasteful - the luxurious retirement and benefit accounts of the elite political class who are ridiculously ineffective; or for the elite military group who are toxic and unaccountable and secretive ..period end of story :-) this is the long version I am going to network.
A) read this http://www.abovetopsecret.com/pages/secgov.html
B) consider this
> Perhaps we were asking the wrong questions in this past election year.
> > > > > > Our Senators/Congressmen do not pay into Social
> > > > > > Security, and, therefore they do not collect from it. Social
> > > > > > Security benefits were not suitable for them.> > > > > >
> > > > > > They felt they should have a special plan. Many
> > > > > > years ago they voted in their benefit plan. In more recent
> > > > > > years, no congress person has felt the need to change it. After
> > all,> > > > > > it is a great plan.> > > > > >
> > > > > > For all practical purposes, their plan works like> > > > > > this:
> > > > > >> > > > > > When they retire no matter how long they have
> > > > > > been in office, they continue to draw their same pay until they
> > > > > > die, except it may be increased from time to time by the
> > > > > > cost-of-living adjustments.
> > > > > > For example, former Senator Bill Bradley (New
> > > > > > Jersey) and his wife may be expected to draw $7,900,000.00 over
> > > > > > an average life span, with Mrs. Bradley drawing $275,000.00
> > > > > > during the last year of her life. Their cost for this excellent
> > > > > > plan is "0", nada, zilch.This little perk they voted in for
> > > > > > themselves is free to them.> > > > > >
> > > > > > You and I pick up the tab for this plan. Our tax
> > > > > > dollars at work! Social Security, which you and I pay intoevery
> > > > > > payday for our own retirement, with an equal amount paid in by
> > > > > > our employer, we can expect to receive an average of $1,000 per
> > > > > > month. We would have to collect our benefits for 68 years
> > > > > > and 1 month to equal the Bradley's benefits.> > > > > >
> > > > > > Imagine for a moment that you could structure a
> > > > > > retirement plan so desirable, a retirement plan that worked
> > > > > > so well, that Railroad Employees, Postal Workers, and others
> > > > > > who were not in the plan would clamor to be
> > > > > > included. This is how good Social Security could be, if onlyone
> > > small> > > > > > change was made.> > > > > >
> > > > > > That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece
> > > > > > Retirement Plan out from under the Senators & Congressmen.
> > > > > > Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of
> > > > > > us. Watch how fast they fix it!!!> > > > > >
> > > > > > If enough people receive this message maybe a
> > > > > > seed will be planted, and maybe good changes will evolve.
Elaine Supkis - 7/29/2001
Bush was NEVER ELECTED. He was selected. He never won Florida and Florida was a mess where the votes were not counted and were messed up.
Further: his stuttering mangled lies were allowed to float by us all thanks to the billionaires who own our media who turned the news into a circus of insanity.
Ridiculous and getting worse! The entire planet is pissed at us and the press is silent.
Patrick Fagan - 7/26/2001
Many of the comments in the “George Will Be George” commentary can be said about any president. For example, I would ask anyone to walk “into a room when” any president “is on television and see how many people are bothering to watch.” The fact that it is currently George W. who is president probably has little to do with it. Content is more than likely the cardinal reason a person’s interest is piqued or not. People certainly watch when sex, crime, or some other scandal is evolving. However, the majority of the public can take only so much of the dry political stuff that constitutes the typical business of government.
One statement in the “George Will Be George” commentary that cannot be said of any president is that one “obviously doesn’t think he needs to sound more intelligent.” It is extremely doubtful that any person who strives to be president would think such a thing. Politicians are on a continuous path to the voter. The effects of a president’s public reception trickle down to the lowest office-holding members of his party. These members must have a president who they can keep selling to their constituents. Otherwise, their political messages cannot be delivered, nor their agendas completed, as much as possible. Bill Clinton appeared on MTV, not just to go where the voters were, but also to show the public that he had not lost touch with it. Much of the public probably wants somebody it can relate to. Bob Dole, who campaigned against Clinton, was not as appealing as Clinton was to the plurality that elected him. The Republicans perhaps did not wish to repeat their error the next time around. They finally found someone to whom much of the public could relate. I do not here dumb down the public.
I wish only to note that it appears to be mostly the sophisticated folk who are bothered by the “gauzy generalizations” of George W. As stated in the commentary, George W. might indeed be disengaging, detached, and uninformed. Yet, the public knew that before it elected him. I do not criticize the public here either. Rather, I ask academics who carp a product of the public to consider why it was supported in the first place? More focus is being given to how the message of the product is delivered than to the content that actually embodies the message. I think the public better served if academics gave greater significance to content instead of intellect. Besides, analyzing content often annuls intellect.