Monday, July 30, 2007
What manner of creature is George W. Bush?
Oh, the countless hours I have spent pondering (obsessing on) George W. Bush!
After all, how can one not be fascinated by a man who seemingly has so little regard for human suffering (ignoring soldier's funerals) that seems to delight in destruction ("I feel good") and the accumulation of power (signing statements); that displays such bravura in flaunting brazenly obvious lies (a list of some of the most obvious); that appears impervious to the hostility and contempt (ambassador of bad will) directed at him by so much of humanity?
Is he a visionary, as many of his supporters believe, who holds to his principles in spite of it all? Is he a responsible elected official, doing what he believes he must to fulfill his public duties, as his apologists in the punditry insist? Is he a fool, as many of his detractors believe, unable to grasp the manner in which he is being manipulated by the evil geniuses around him?
George W. Bush (henceforth referred to as "Junior") was born into a wealthy family. As the son of a former President of the United States and the grandson of Prescott Bush, who made his fortune arming the Nazi war machine, Junior's success (or, rather, his immunity to the consequences of failure) was assured. The Bush family built a huge fortune on war and oil, and Junior has been guaranteed his inheritance, not only of wealth, but of fame and power, by virtue of having been spawned within it.
Junior received a first rate education, (which he squandered) by virtue of his family name. He started out at the prestigious Phillips Academy prep school, where he rubbed elbows with other "common folk" who could afford the tuition. He attended Yale and Harvard Business College despite mediocre marks in prep school and on his SAT scores, by virtue of the tacit legacy policy of those institutions which had also educated his father. By his own admission, Junior's efforts were lackluster and unspectacular, yet he was able to complete his studies in these elite, premium institutions.
How would someone without the Bush family name have fared with a similar academic performance?
After school, in 1978, Junior took advantage of an education trust fund to start up Arbusto Energy, an oil and gas company based in west Texas, which promptly failed despite Junior's attempts to revive it. Junior was, nonetheless spared financial ruin by a timely bail out in the form of Spectrum 7 Energy Corporation, which reportedly viewed the acquisition as a tax shelter. Junior was awarded the CEO position in the newly merged conglomerate, and was given another chance to make something of himself. But this was only the first in a string of failed business ventures, each of which terminated in a bail out by family friends (including the Saudi royal family) and, after which, Junior was promoted to a position of more power and wealth. Throughout his business career, there were allegations and accusations revolving around insider stock trading and illegal filings (or lack thereof) with the SEC. The long list is documented by John Dunbar in his A Brief History of Bush, Harken and the SEC.
Would someone lacking a family fortune to rely on have been able to avoid financial ruin with such an abysmal display of business and ethical acumen?
Then, of course, there is the issue of Junior's military career. A firm supporter of the Vietnam War, Junior managed to jump over the waiting list to enlist in the Texas Air National Guard, with the help of Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes, thereby avoiding any possibility of being drafted for duty in Vietnam. His spotty record of absenteeism and early release is set forth in a time line created by Mother Jones.
This record speaks for itself. Over 50,000 young men and women who died in Vietnam attest to the potential consequences that Junior avoided by virtue of having friends in high places.
I will refrain from going into Junior's political career, beyond saying that, as a man who had never suffered any consequences for his failures (beyond, perhaps a stern admonishment from his father or (worse) his mother), it is only natural that he would attract sycophants (Harriet Myers, Condoleeza Rice) and flatterers with their own agendas (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove) to his cause.
Also, there is not much point in going into the arrest for drunk driving, or the alleged cocaine use, or the alcoholism. These maladies and mistakes occur every day in each of our own worlds. It is rare, however, when we are able to evade the consequences as completely as has Junior.
So, in answer to the questions I posed at the beginning of this entry, I've come to the conclusion that George W. Bush is a sociopath. That is, he is a man who cannot conceive of the commonality of mankind, of the shared condition that defines what it means to be human. He views himself and those whom he considers to be part of his social class to be above the proletariat, a modern day Marie Antoinette. The lower classes, including those (ignorant and largely uneducated) few of the proletariat who support him, are fodder; resources to be used to achieve his ends.
He often refers to "destiny" when he speaks of his presidency and his mission and especially of the wars he has wrought. In his mind, he is part of the wise bourgeoisie that will lead the world into its bright future: a world where each person knows his or her place and willingly accepts the role for which he/she is destined by virtue of birth and ancestry.