Green Means \”Impeach\”

No More Bleeding Heart (Or, Don’t Cry for Yourself, Pappy Bush)

Posted in Bush,Cheney,Iraq,Politics,Uncategorized by dylanfreak on August 12, 2007

People on the Left are routinely ridiculed or even despised for displaying what their adversaries perceive as an excess of compassion. Ironically, a lot of this sneering emanates from right-wing Christians, who claim to subscribe to a faith based upon the moral imperatives of forgiveness and love. Thus, whenever we progressives advocate peace and social welfare, or — God forbid — oppose the death penalty, the Right and its media sycophants revile us as soft, weak, cowardly. Lily-livered liberals. Bleeding hearts.

But even for Lefties, empathy has its limits. There exist some institutions, some systems, some humans, for which we can honestly concede no fellow feeling. They evoke none of the sober commiseration granted to those who have tried and failed to meet some exacting ethical standard, nor the mellow philosophical relativism implied by the famous quote from Jean Renoir’s film, Rules of the Game: “everyone has his reasons.” The actions of such entities and individuals extend so far beyond the moral pale that they can turn the most enlightened among us, at least temporarily, into emotional neocons.

Such a person is President Bush… the former President Bush, that is. (To avoid confusion between George Herbert Bush and the current misleader, we will henceforth refer to the former by his middle initial, and to the latter, of course, by the initial “W.”) What prompts these reflections is a piece published in Thursday’s (8/9/07) New York Times, by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, about the dark curse blighting H’s sunset years: the long shadow of his appalling son.

In January 2001, no dad could have been prouder than was H of his newly-selected eldest boy, hanging chads be damned. As the sentimental story went, father and son even promised each other to avoid eye contact during the swearing-in, for fear that, in the elder Bush’s words, both men might be “overcome by the enormity of the moment.” (Though, as Village Voice critic Tom Carson pointed out at the time, the dictionary definition of “enormity” is “a great wickedness.”) That initial euphoria has long faded, replaced by a nightmare reality in which H is haunted literally everywhere he goes by well-meaning strangers who ever-so-tactfully skewer his unpopular son. It gives H no satisfaction, apparently, that these critiques of W are almost always prefaced by approval for his own, briefer presidency. (It seems he has never been confronted by anyone who has ever repeated the merry chant often heard at protest marches: “Hey Bush! / We know you: / Your father was a killer, too!”) Rather, such backhanded praise, according to The Times, is pure agony for the old man. But what is most astonishing about the article is what it reveals about the egotism and smallness of soul displayed by this once powerful man and his whole rotten family.

Often,” Stolberg asserts, “he likens himself to a Little League father whose kid is having a rough game. And like the proud and angry Little League dad who cannot help but yell at the umpire, sometimes he just cannot help getting involved.” 

Little League! Now, a strong case could be made that W is the most powerful individual who has ever lived. After all, the office of the president, for the past fifty or so years, has wielded more influence — because of the wealth and prestige of the United States, as well as our stockpile of nuclear weapons — than any king or emperor has ever known, and Bush Junior’s personal power, thanks to 9/11 and his own actions, exceeds that of any previous chief executive. Yet here is this morally purblind old geezer talking Little League! George W. Bush is a man, dammit! Stealing an election (make that two elections) is not quite the same as a little kid stealing home plate. Invading a sovereign nation and then smashing it to bits through greed and incompetence, destroying hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in the process, cannot be reduced, by the most grotesque imagination, to the embarrassment of striking out with the bases loaded. 

And it’s revealing, in a sick way, that H doesn’t even compare his son to an adult athlete. It’s as if W were still the spoiled, not-so-young brat who caroused, drove drunk and otherwise humiliated his prominent parents. And the father’s indulgent (and self-indulgent) fantasy of his son as an underdog on the baseball diamond goes a long way towards explaining why, beginning with his childhood, W has never once been held accountable, in any meaningful way, for a single misdeed he’s ever done. 

The message the article sends, and was intended to send, is bizarrely schizoid. According to “the official line,” the attitude shown by “41” (as H is coyly referred to, in recognition of his numerical position among the presidents) towards his son’s administration is strictly hands-off. But the testimony of those who spoke, off the record, to Stolberg tells a very different story:

“… he has privately expressed irritation with some of his son’s aides. At times, he has urged White House officials to seek outside advice, and he has passed on his own foreign policy wisdom to the president, even as he makes a point of saying his son’s administration is not his… sometimes the ex-president would raise a foreign policy question, or suggest the White House reach out to those ‘in his circle,’ like James A. Baker, the former secretary of state…”

Since H is definitely not the kibbitzer type — he surely would not be making his opinion felt so strongly if he thought his son’s administration wasn’t going terribly wrong — we must conclude that, whatever he may say publicly, the elder Bush is in reluctant agreement with those who walk up to him and slam his son’s administration to his face. But what is really peculiar about the Times piece was the candor with which Stolberg concedes that the son, rather than submitting dutifully to his father, has been going out of his way to humiliate him:

“Tensions between aides to 41 and 43 ran especially high when Mr. Baker was co-chairman of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. When President Bush  rejected the group’s recommendations, some in the 41 camp viewed it as an outright rejection of the father. When Mr. Scowcroft spoke out against the war, some thought the father was sending a message to the son” – a message that W gleefully and spitefully ignored.

Junior’s oft-quoted statement to Bob Woodward to the effect that, when seeking inner strength, he ignores his weak, earthly father in favor of his mighty, heavenly one, is trotted out one more time by Stolberg, and she also produces the following nugget:

“The rivalry theory flared up again last year, at the christening of the Navy’s newest Nimitz aircraft carrier, the George H. W. Bush. The president joked that given the ship’s qualities — ‘she is unrelenting, she is unshakeable, she is unyielding’ — it should have been named for his mother. The line brought a laugh, but some close to the elder Mr. Bush winced at what seemed a subtle dig.”

Subtle? What’s subtle about W saying that his mother is tougher than his father (a devastasting put-down indeed, from the point-of-view of the male chauvinist Bush clan)? Such incidents are not isolated examples of W’s insensitivity, either. At every opportunity, the son has systematically rejected — indeed, smashed like a rampaging bull — the father’s ostensible legacy.

Shakespeare was fascinated by such fraught relationships among kings and princes, in which the fates of proud families dangerously intertwine with those of great nations. And the anguish, both pathetic and ludicrous, that H is enduring now has all the earmarks of a Shakespearean curse/prophecy come to pass. For the tragedy in Iraq that a horrified world is now witnessing had its prologue in the actions of none other than George Bush Senior.

In late July 1990, Saddam Hussein demanded an interview with US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie, essentially requesting permission to conquer his neighbor, Kuwait. The pathologically selfish and stupid Sabah family had been making life tough for the Iraqi dictator by refusing to renegotiate the $10 billion debt Saddam owed them for their financial support in the war against Iran; the Saudis had already forgiven Iraq their debts. (Also, the Kuwaitis were busy “slant drilling,” from wells on their side of the border, into oil deposits that lay beneath Iraqi territory, in effect picking Hussein’s pocket.) With sixteen infamous words – “… but we have no opinon on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait” – Glaspie gave the green light (or so Hussein believed) to the tyrant’s plan, sealing Kuwait’s fate… and Iraq’s. On August 2, Saddam went ahead and launched his illegal and immoral invasion of Kuwait.

At first, H seemed to have no intention of responding with military force. After all, it could be argued that, prior to 8/2/90, he was the best friend Saddam Hussein had ever had, inside or outside Iraq. Whenever Congress, in one of its ethical moods, had wanted to punish Iraq for human rights violations, H had always blocked such efforts. And according to George Bush’s War, by Jean Edward Smith, soon after he got word of what had happened, he promised Jordan’s King Hussein and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak that he would say nothing publicly for forty-eight hours, in the hope that those leaders might be able to privately talk Saddam into reversing his decision.

But then H flew to a previously scheduled conference in Aspen, Colorado, and had his head turned around by the Iron Lady of Britain, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (Ironically, Bush had gone to Colorado to speak about the domestic “peace dividend” following the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.) Thatcher was adamant that Bush needed to respond in stiff-upper-lip, Churchillian fashion to Hussein’s heinous act. After this “successful backbone transplant” (in the words of one British official), Bush publicly pronounced “this will not stand,” thereby smashing King Hussein’s and Mubarak’s backstage attempt to resolve the crisis peacefully.

Bush’s behavior throughout the buildup to Gulf War One repeated this pattern. Whenever the possibility of peace reared its ugly head, H would brutally crush it by, say, publicly comparing Saddam to Hitler, or sneering at the dictator’s intransigence and ignoring his own. Indeed, in the weeks immediately prior to the war, the prospect of a sudden and unexpected withdrawal from Kuwait by Hussein’s forces became the administration’s worst-case scenario: retreat, they believed, would leave Iraq unpunished and still strong. Bush and his cronies were definitely looking to give war a chance.

According to Desert Mirage, an important, little-known book by journalist Martin Yant, Saddam offered, for weeks before the 1991 US air assault on Iraq, the perfect face-saving deal. He would withdraw Iraqi forces from Kuwait, on the condition that this be linked to serious talks, involving the US, to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. In this way, Hussein would shore up his image as a hero to the Palestinians. And Bush would have emerged as a double peacemaker – averting a confrontation with Iraq and reviving the stalled peace process. Though H agreed with UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar that a solution to the Palestinian problem was necessary, he refused Saddam’s olive branch. (He also rejected a last-minute French plan for Iraqi withdrawal in exchange for an overall Mideast peace conference.) Nothing was going to stop the United States in the New World Order, which turned out to be identical to the “order” that has existed since the beginning of the world: the exercise, by the powerful, of blind force for its own sake.

The peace movement at that time argued that going to war to save the dictatorial emirate of Kuwait was not justified under any circumstances. But even if one does not accept the movement’s position and argues that Hussein’s aggression had to be opposed, it cannot possibly be claimed that H did everything possible to avert war: quite the contrary. Indeed, though conventional wisdom claims that Bush the First’s response to the “threat” of Iraq was diammetrically opposite to that of Bush the Second, it is remarkable how similar the actions of the two men were.

Though H wore the fig leaf of international support to cover his naked aggression (thereby gaining a false reputation as a leader who avoided major decisions until he received multilateral consensus), essentially the slaughter in the Gulf was, as Professor Smith rightly claims, “George Bush’s war.” From the beginning, only H’s opinion, not that of any other head of state, or of any military leader or regional expert, ever really mattered. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney strong-armed Saudi Arabia into agreeing to host American military forces on their border with Iraq, ostensibly to defend against Hussein’s (nonexistent) plans to invade that country, while lying to the media that the troops were there at the Saudis’ request. H made dirty deals with the other tyrants in the area – in Syria, Turkey and Morocco, particularly – to support his coalition, often at the expense of the human rights of the victims of those regimes (just as his son would later do with Pakistan). Finally, and again like W, when all else failed, H opened his checkbook to get other nations to knuckle under. This included a bribe to the UN, in the form of payment of a portion of the US’s long-outstanding debt to the organization. Indeed, the UN violated its own charter, and brought infamy upon itself, by green-lighting both Gulf Wars… except that the world body gave its imprimatur to Junior’s more deadly aggression after the fact, essentially washing its hands, Pontius Pilate-like, of all responsibility to the Iraqi people.

Yes, the double tragedy of the Persian Gulf Wars is truly Shakespearean in scope. The only problem is that George Herbert Bush, in his infuriating narcissism and parochialism, is utterly inadequate as a Shakespearean character. Henry IV and Henry V, as portrayed by the Bard, may not have been very nice guys, but at least they possessed self-awareness: they knew that their actions impacted upon the fate of England and the rest of Europe — they held no illusions that the world revolved around the Bolingbroke family. There is no doubt in my mind that neither H nor W has ever lost a minute of sleep, in guilt or even grief, about the US casualties of either conflict, never mind the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. What is breaking the elder Bush’s heart is not the wreckage of a once-proud and prosperous Mideast nation or of America’s reputation in the world, but the utter destruction of the bogus Bush image: good Christian soldiers, noble warriors for peace and democracy.

So don’t cry for Pappy Bush: in the end, he deserves everything that is happening to him. And if we don’t do everything in our power to try to remove his son from office — even if the effort be futile — we will deserve everything he and Cheney do to us in the next seventeen critical months.


5 Responses to 'No More Bleeding Heart (Or, Don’t Cry for Yourself, Pappy Bush)'

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  1. Chuck said,

    Very well said!

    Your description of the Poppy/duhbya strife, generally speaking- between an overpowering (and evil) father and a detriment born into his dynasty (given his name) sounds accurate to me. I think he was happy when his son was inaugurated…for himself.

    Its true that the bushes wield enormous power throughout the world, yet I believe they just happen to be the most successful arm of outfits like the PNAC, Bilderbergs, Carlyles and who knows what else.

    Their similarities are more than either care to admit- manipulations, murder (covert & overt), deceit and an enormous hunger for power.

    I doubt that duhbya was Poppy’s first choice. He couldn’t continue his legacy with Neil or Jeb, for a number of reasons, and was forced to place georgie in higher and higher places to position him for the presidency. And he’ll take that frustration to his grave.

    Thanks for the link! I will reciprocate.

  2. ClapSo said,

    The bush bad apples didn’t fall far from the rotten family tree. The father of h and grandfather of w was reported to be a nazi sympathizer who was linked to a plan to assassinate then president FDR!

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer

  3. Suzie-Q said,

    The Bush clan has always been evil and corrupt. Yes, Prescott Bush (#43’s grandfather) sold weapons to Hitler!

    The enemy within…

  4. youporn said,

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  5. Adam Rashid said,

    great thanks

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