Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Adulation Bubble

Sorry about yesterday, Bush. My head was otherwise occupied, with real estate problems and business with contractors. I woke up with a couple of ideas to pass on to you, but within a few minutes they were gone... I guess you're on vacation, anyway, down in Crawford, so you probably won't have missed our conversation.

A working vacation, as I understand it. A quick trip north to sign your transportation bill at Caterpillar, surrounded by your usual carefully screened audience of fans and fanatics. No matter that the bill itself is stuffed with congressional pork, and that you had threatened earlier to veto it: that would have been a first! It seems you've never met a lavish spending plan you didn't like! It's the other side of the balance sheet that offends you: you know, the income side. Taxes. The wherewithal to pay for everything you lavish money on. Anyway, you managed to spin this one into a great triumph for the American people: jobs, economic growth, even transportation safety. And all those politicians on both sides of the aisle whose districts pulled in a share of the profits sat by and rubbed their hands.

But I wonder what it does to your head, to be surrounded all the time with cheering crowds? I notice that you by-passed Cindy Sheehan, that dead soldier's mother who has been sitting patiently outside your ranch, just waiting for the chance to talk to you. She's going to be a thorn in your flesh, Bush, I promise you, unless you find some way to turn that, too, into your personal gain: invite her in for a cup of tea, perhaps, during a break in your brush-clearing work. A nice photo op, so long as you keep smiling and keep the conversation private. But I think this mother might be angry enough to make that difficult for you. You might be in a no-win situation here.

Which brings us back to Iraq. The news this morning was not good, Bush. Thirty-five Americans killed so far this month. And God knows how many Iraqis. And now you're expecting a brand new constitution by Monday? With continuing internal and sectarian strife? I heard one of your supporters in a radio interview yesterday, praising you for having brought religious liberty to the country. Does this guy listen to the news? Does he read a newspaper? Religious freedom? With the Shiite majority, supported by their neighboring theocracy, Iran, pushing for their own theocratic state? With Sunnis killing Shiites, and some of those Shiites (in Basra, remember last week's entry, Bush?) fanatical enough to feel justified in killing those who fail to share their religious views?

And yet you continue to assert that things are getting better, and to suggest that we'll soon be able to leave Iraq to the Iraqis. And there are apparently people who believe you! Yet it was only yesterday that one of your military people over there was quoted saying that it would be "several years" before the Iraqi military and police would be able to take care of security in their country. And how could we expect any different, when our own highly trained military obviously can't do the job themselves?

The real question is whether you really believe this nonsense you keep spouting to the American people, Bush? Are you so completely enclosed in the adulation bubble your people have created for you that you actually don't know what's going on? Or--the only other possibility--are you so cynical that political contingency is more important to you than integrity and truth? In which case, I predict that it will all come back to haunt you one day. By that time you may perhaps have left office. It may take years, or even decades. There's no question in my mind, however, but that so much untruth, so much deception, so much bad faith will eventually build up into a mountain of bad karma for this country, and that we will all be called upon to suffer dearly for having allowed you to live with impunity in your adulation bubble, at the expense not only of your country, but the rest of the world.

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