I remember back in 2016 when I first saw this clip of former President George W Bush making a fool of himself at a policeman’s funeral. I don’t know if I was stoned or what but I wrote this reaction and I felt it was just humorous enough (in a black comedy sort of way) to still be applicable today. So, to commemorate the finale of the worst, most depressing election cycle in modern American history (without even the dank memes of 2016 or the decorum amidst the assassinations and DNC riots of 1968,) here’s this half-serious, half-joking, weird stream of consciousness thing I wrote many moons ago. Here’s hoping things go smoothly today and there’s no violence or fraud at the polls today, with a peaceful transition of power thereafter. That’s my Election Day Fantasy.
Personally, I can’t even be mad at this. Here’s former President Bush: the only one not in black, with a blissfully unaware expression on his face, acting inappropriate in public. He’s not hurting anyone, just enjoying the moment (even if it’s supposed to be a solemn one.) It’s impossible not to consider that maybe he’s not all there…or else something else is going on. The thing about Presidents in the modern era, is that to even get elected they have to be charismatic and in control of their public persona at all times. Any slip ups, any perceived lapse in confidence (see: the Dean Scream & “Please Clap,” respectively) will cost someone the race. This is what I’ve been harping on all year–appearances matter. This requirement has the effect that even when candidates do something stupid or horrible, it’s sometimes hard to really hate them for it if we’re being fair. Anyone would do at least one thing that looks bad over the course of one year, let alone another four to eight while in office.
I wonder too, if the higher-ups in the military and/or intelligence community don’t know this fact and take advantage. If my theory is correct, and democracy, at least at the Presidential level has become a farce, that puts a whole different spin on things. Suddenly, it’s not that Bush and Obama are warmongers (or at least doing shady things, for those of you who’d prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt.) It’s that they were co-opted as tools to sell us plebeians on the jingoistic neoconservative agenda, American imperialism, which for us means funneling our nation’s vast wealth to make war and plunder for the profit of those on the very top of the social pyramid. Feed us the illusion of change every four years to keep us placated and docile. Follow the trends of the populace and offer a more simple, folksy Texas ranch boy persona as the figurehead for awhile. Then as we grew tired of him, they gave us the suave eloquent, handsome black man to mix things up and evolve the face of the puppet to quell any dissent which the previous placeholder inadvertently created. And it works like a charm, every time, because the illusion of choice is a powerful thing.
You consider that reality and suddenly this “haha laugh at stupid idiot Bush” moment becomes a sympathetic cry for help from a man whose personality was exploited to sell us all a lemon. This is a man who wasn’t really in control for 8 years in what should have been the greatest achievement of his life. This inappropriate little jig is really that same man asserting any last little bit of control anyway he can to compensate for the decade of being controlled. I can just imagine Bush thinking: “I have to go to ANOTHER state function, and put on a show for these people who hate me again? NOOO!” So he was seized by the desire to regain control here, in the only way he could, the only way he knew how. He had to dance, he had to do something different, he had to behave in a way they wouldn’t expect, or he’d have gone absolutely insane.
It may be giving him too much credit, letting him off the hook too easily, but I’d like to think of W as a reverse-Pagliacci. Perhaps this was a man who only wanted to bring us all joy as a leader. Who wanted to get us to seize the moment, make us laugh, take ourselves less seriously, enjoy life as a country together. But the tragedy Bush faced in office, and the horrors which Cheney and Rumsfeld pushed him into, forced Bush to wipe off the smile and be something he never meant to be. This was a man made to wear the harlequin colors, who now had to bury himself in the black suits of mourning post 9/11, post Katrina, for the majority of those 8 years…and you want him to do so AGAIN now when he’s finally free? NAY, said he! He was gonna wear the colors and dawn a smile by god! Even if it was just navy blue, and a 20 second half-hearted rockettes’ kick in place, Bush was going to be the clown he was always meant to be! He was going to make people laugh, goddammit! And, perhaps, after 8 years of forced sternness, of being stripped of the silliness that WAS his identity…the poor bastard has earned it. If nothing else, he’s earned that I say.
Now watch this video, and keep THAT in mind.
The tragedy of modern Presidents is that, in order to get elected, you must strip away your ideals and identity. To govern, you must play the game and put your trust in people who WILL let you down, double cross you, proverbially and literally betray you. At all functions you must appear a certain way…you must wear and remove the smile like a mask rather than enjoy the spontaneity of life as man was meant to do. It’s the perceived power of the office which attracts most, until one gets there and realizes they are just a puppet on strings held by every American, pulled apart in a hundred million directions.
The President is a figurehead sculpted from the primaries onward to go out there, door to door, and sell initiatives which the true masters of our country tell him are going to happen one way or another, and take all the blame when those policies are enacted. And if any new President refuses, he’ll wind up just like JFK. If he blows the whistle, they’ll rape his wife. They’ll vivisect his children alive. They’ll put him down in solitary with the sodomites. And the library? Gone. They’ll have them a little book barbecue in the yard, dance around it like wild injuns… see the flames for miles. And everything he said to uncover this terrible truth will be dismissed as loony by the corporate media. When George Washington turned down a crown, he thought he was doing it for the greater good. Instead, he created the worst kind of gilded, public prison imaginable. And the freedom for the common man which he hoped to preserve was eroded regardless. That’s America. That’s the world we live in.