Thursday, May 22, 2003

Disoriented Norman Mailer Struggles for Relevance

Washed-up former tough-guy establishment-challenger Norman Mailer boldly defends the entrenched status-quo anti-American perspective, this time in Old Europe’s Der Speigel magazine. His displeasure with everything from religious freedom to the liberation of Iraq pivots on his blind visceral dislike of President Bush.

“There's something crude about Bush, and that's a surprise. He's vulgar. In view of his dignified, interesting and vital parents, his own vulgarity is a choice he made. He's cynical, enjoys manipulating people. To put it another way, that's how a dry alcoholic manages to control a situation, because he needs the satisfaction of leading a highly active and dynamic life. He knows how to manipulate half of America by constantly waving the Star-Spangled Banner."

Let’s briefly recall who Norman Mailer is. Way back in the 1950s, this quintessential white guy was considered avant-garde . . . a hard drinkin’, two-fisted, angry young man.

Today, he’s just an angry old man . . . one of millions.

But enough about old Norman.

What fascinates me is the obsession so many otherwise intelligent people have with George Bush.

George Bush: The Source of All Evil?

At first he was a puppet controlled by Cheney. Now he’s the skillful manipulator of the masses. He was supposed to be ignorant of all things foreign. Now he’s the executor of a secret plan to reorder the world.

He chooses strange words, he makes expressions with his face, he mentions religion, he’s from Texas, he’s not from Texas, he doesn’t drink, he eats hot dogs, he’s declared war on every black, white, latino, and asian man, woman and child in the United States . . . the whole swirling shifting tornado of offenses touches down unpredictably in Iraq, in the Supreme Court, in France, in the Alaska National Tundra Wasteland . . . er . . . Wildlife Refuge.

What is it about Bush that drive them nuts?

Privileged – Certainly being the son of a former president has its advantages as Chip Carter and Steve Ford know all too well. But then only someone as privileged as Al Gore could have neutralized the silver spoon campaign issue.

Loser – Although this would seem to contradict the privilege complaint, Bush’s years on the lower rungs of the oil exploration and sports entertainment industries is a reliable source of BushScorn®

Religious – If Bush is a religious fanatic what does that make Jimmy Carter? Or Rev. Martin Luther King? Or the Dalai Lama? I find it illuminating that the same people who call Bush a religious fundamentalist can’t name what religion he belongs to. When asked why Bill Clinton’s ostentatious piety was palatable they’ll say something like “well, everyone knows Clinton didn’t mean it." Interesting.

A Puppet – It used to be said that Bush was merely the front man for a cartel of shadowy corporate interests. Cheney must surly be pulling the strings . . . for god sakes, he’s bald! Whoever heard of a bald politician? Cheney must be the brains. Although it doesn’t seem very smart to want to be Vice President.

A Puppeteer – Now it’s more fashionable to accuse Bush of being the sinister ring leader of a cartel of shadowy corporate interests. How else to explain the big contracts to Halliburton . . . aside from the fact that its Brown & Root subsidiary has since the LBJ years been the private sector pilot fish to the Pentagon’s humpback whale and has considerably more experience repairing oil infrastructure destroyed in armed combat than say, Body Shops or Maggie’s Organic Clothing or any other remotely possible contractor. Of course, why someone interested solely in accumulating wealth would step foot in the public sector is never explained.

A Provincial – Bush is supposedly a backwoods yokel from the middle of Texas yet at the same time a deeply embedded establishment scion with a meal ticket punched by Yale, Harvard, Skull & Bones, the CIA, Brown, Brothers Harriman, and the Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich. How he can be so sheltered yet so connected is also never explained.

An Idiot – Well, aside from the Harvard MBA, the greater earned income than his father’s, the unexpected victory over Gov. Ann Richards in Texas, his unexpected victory over Al Gore in Tennessee, his unexpected victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan, his unexpected victory over the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections, his unexpected cakewalk over Saddam Hussein, aside from all that, yes, he’s got to be an idiot.

In the world weary wisdom of a defeated Richard Nixon, when you let hate consume you it’s you who is ultimately destroyed.

This is surely the lesson of the Clinton years . . . the “vast right wing conspiracy” only made Clinton more popular. Now that he is out of office and inconsequential, his accumulated personal shortcomings have done more damage to his reputation than anything Kenneth Starr could ever pin on him.

The Left is now repeating the mistakes of the Right. Every time they work up a lather about George Bush, regular people give him more slack. The difference this time is that the Bush Administration appears to understand that this is hidden strength that diminishes their opponents by making them look like extremist lunatics.

Of course, it doesn't hurt if they actually ARE extremist lunatics.

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