Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Is Anyone Actually Watching the Prez on TV?

George W. Bush has precious little to smile about. But he’s smiling anyway. And for no discernible reason. It’s goofy. I happened to catch his act yesterday when he was in Manhattan, KS, which is not far from Ft. Riley. He was doing one of his convince-the-natives-speeches explaining that illegal wiretapping of Americans is legal and necessary. This speech was kindly called a “lecture”. It took place in a coliseum full of 7,000 students, soldiers and invited guests who laughed and applauded on cue. When the President said, “I want you to know, I can remember what it was like to sit through lectures,” the audience acted as though it was the funniest laughline they’d ever heard. There was some monumentally unfunny banter about a tie and the audience howled with laughter and applauded. But it was when the Prez began to answer questions that I got the willies. A Hispanic man who had trouble with English asked a long and involved question about the US protecting its borders. The Prez dismissively said, “I got the question -- immigration.” And the audience laughed and applauded. Bush’s answer went like this: “First of all, bienvenidos (pause, smile). And we have an obligation in this country to enforce our borders (pause, smile). And there's huge pressure on our borders (pause, smile). It's been a long border, obviously (pause, smile), with Mexico, and a long border with Canada (pause, smile). And the biggest problematic area right now (pause, smile) is the border with Mexico, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas (pause, smile). The issue is not only Mexican citizens (pause, smile) who are coming across the border illegally (pause, smile), but it's other citizens who are coming across the border (pause, smile). And so it went for the entire length of the convoluted and fuzzy answer--pause, smile. The upshot was this Presidential conclusion (pausing and smiling all the way): “And so, here's my position, and that is that, if there is someone who will do a job an American won't do, then that person ought to be given a temporary worker card to work in the United States for a set period of time. “I do not believe that any guest worker program ought to contain amnesty because I believe that, if you granted amnesty to the people here working now, that that would cause another 8 million people or so to come here. “I do believe, however, it is humane to say to a person: You are doing a job somebody else won't do. Here is a temporary card to enable you to do the card (sic).” And 7,000 handpicked idiots applauded. When Katharine Hepburn was having trouble with the monstrous character of Violet Venable in “Suddenly Last Summer”, director George Cukor advised her to say her nasty lines while smiling. The end-result was chilling. George Bush’s smiles have the same effect. Jumbled syntax, empty rhetoric, dead eyes and inappropriate smiles. CREEEPY! In July 2004, CTheory.net published Carol V. Hamilton’s article, “Being Nothing”. It likened George W. Bush to Jerzy Kosinski’s character, Chance Gardiner, in Being There. Hamilton said in her opening paragraph: “In Jerzy Kozinsky's 1970 novel Being There, a character named Chance the Gardener, whose entire existence has been restricted to watching television shows and tending a walled garden, is suddenly thrust into the outside world. Here he acquires admirers who rename him Chauncey Gardiner, mistake his ignorance for profundity, and take his horticultural allusions for zenlike koans. His intellectual limitations and personal inadequacies become social and political virtues. At the end of the novel, the President's advisors gather to consider a candidate to replace the current vice-president. One of them suggests Chance. "Gardiner has no background," he declares. "And so he's not and cannot be objectionable to everyone! He's personable, well-spoken, and he comes across well on TV". Although Being There is over 30 years old, it is eerily pertinent to the current political scene. Only in one respect was Kozinski's prophecy too cautious. Writing during the reign of the uncharismatic, unphotogenic, yet canny and intelligent President Nixon, Koskinski was apparently unable to imagine Chance as a sitting president.” Like the audience in Manhattan, Kansas yesterday, we continually give George W. Bush credit for having attributes he does not possess. Hamilton said: “This article appropriates ideas from Being There and Baudrillard's Gulf War pieces in order to propose that George W. Bush is a simulation, a virtual figure upgraded from a prototype like that of Chance the Gardener. I am not interested in George W. Bush's corporeal being but rather in his flatness and in the way that his obvious deficiencies are "spun" by supposedly disinterested media pundits. Bush's estrangement from the real -- evident in his unfamiliarity with geography, history, ordinary English syntax and semantics, and a fund of common knowledge -- stems from his own lack of reality. George W. Bush does not exist.” The tics are all there is.

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