Drama King of Freedom
by Karen Kwiatkowski
That George W. Bush enjoys his executive role is clear. All smirking aside, young George told Tim Russert he intends to remain in power for years. And Bush really wants us to see it the way he does.
"Well, I don't plan on losing. I've got a vision for what I want to do for the country. See, I know exactly where I want to lead. I want to lead us — I want to lead this world toward more peace and freedom. I want to lead this great country to work with others to change the world in positive ways, particularly as we fight the war on terror, and we got changing times here in America, too."
Actually, I don't "see." How nice for him to want to "lead this world," and change it "in positive ways." Could he be a bit more specific? Closer to home, maybe? I'd also like to know more about what the dry drunk in the White House means when he says, "We got changing times here in America, too."
After 9-11, Bush said "They hate us because we're free." As Saul Landau points out in his new book, The Pre-Emptive Empire: A Guide to Bush's Kingdom, John "Chamberlain" Ashcroft, ever the appeaser, heard the President's words and immediately launched a comprehensive campaign to make Americans less free. The meteoric growth of centralized government and the corresponding reduction in American liberty, freedom of movement, information, action and thought since 9-11 has proven to be an Al Qaeda objective well met.
In an attempt to coax angry Republicans back into the fold, George W. Bush has been invoking Ronald Reagan. The comparison, as for all things Bush, is superficial and fleeting. Like that first martini, it is intended to provide something to hold on to before the real drinking gets started, and nothing more. The Reagan storyline as told by Bush includes his assessment of Reagan's heritage as "deficits don't matter," Bush's cosmetic application of supply-side economics, and Bush the ranch-hand who would really rather be cutting brush than invading and occupying small countries with oil, if only, if only.
The Reagan charm rings false in the Bush house. But indeed, acting and reading scripts have an honored place in the George W. Bush experience.
Russert wondered if Bush knew John Kerry at Yale, given that both were members of Skull and Bones, an organization at the university consisting of probably no more than fifty or sixty Yalies. Kerry remembers Bush. But amazingly when Russert asked "Did you know him at Yale?" Bush answered "No."
As I recall, the appropriate Reagan era response was "I don't recall." But when one is lying, direct, confident lying is to be commended, I'm sure.
A recent Yale graduate told me that Skull and Bones recruitment has been going downhill for some time. Turns out, many of the first-string invitees reject the secret society, and the poor Boneheads are forced to plea with second- and third-string strangers. One wonders if this quality control crisis has been going on for some time.
In delivering lines, one must hand it to Bush, he, er, delivers his lines. Like this one from the Russert interview last Sunday, "I believe it is essential — I believe it is essential — that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent. It's too late if they become imminent."
In other words, while Bush never said Iraq posed an imminent threat in any case, it wouldn't have mattered, because we must fight before the threat is imminent. Perpetual war for perpetual peace.
Bush is such a drama king, whether playing dress-up on the USS Abe Lincoln or hide-and-seek in the Alabama Air National Guard. But it was Bush's other speech this week, at the National Defense University on WMD proliferation, that really brought out his dramatic side. It may also have revealed his real vision for Amerika.
Bush was speaking of Libya's longstanding efforts to re-enter the community of nations. These efforts have been ongoing for over a decade, and had been opposed by both Clinton and Bush administrations until somebody in the Bush campaign realized they could take credit for it, as a "positive" gained from the occupation of Iraq.
Bush read from his prepared speech, "Abandoning the pursuit of illegal weapons can lead to better relations with the United States, and other free nations. Continuing to seek those weapons will not bring security or international prestige, but only political isolation, economic hardship, and other unwelcome consequences."
Between the words "economic hardship" and "other unwelcome consequences," Bush took a long dramatic pause, giving the audience a look of delighted and barely contained menace. The Perle/Frum End of Evil team and the American Enterprise Institute must have been feeling the love.
Perhaps we should listen to Bush's words, embrace his visions, and heed them. As Bush explained to Russert, "See, free societies are societies that don't develop weapons of mass terror and don't blackmail the world."
I see, Mr. Bush, I see.
February 17, 2004
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.
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