Portrait of George W. Bush (2004)
Well, it's hard to believe
So you get up to leave
And you laugh at the door
That you heard it all before
Oh it's so good to know
That it's all just a show for you
--Neil Young, "L.A."
Today's image is a picture of our president.
It's not meant to suggest he's a blank slate, a Rosetta Stone, a cipher, an unformed clone, or even people's faces scratched out of photographs in The Ring.
It implies he's a surface. One D. No there under there.
He's an illusion made with media smoke and mirrors. All the world's his stage. And the story of his time is a grand tragedy. While he struts and smirks on the boards, with props of wood and codpiece and gee-tar, visions of sugarplum leadership dancing in his head, the audience is literally dying.
No story better encapsulates the Bush presidency than this one. Every voting citizen needs to read it and commit it to memory like a mantra, so no Rove or O'Reilly or Malkin or Hannity or Coulter or Limbaugh can whitewash it, rinse out its clarity, and spin it as take charge action:
"There are all of these guys with all of this training and we're sending them out to hand out a phone number," an Oregon firefighter said. "They [the hurricane victims] are screaming for help and this day [of FEMA training] was a waste."
Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.
But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
I think kos understands the implications:
Bush's use of firefighters as human props doesn't win the "most fucked up" prize because it was the most costly for the nation -- the Iraq War wins hands down. It doesn't win because it caused the most deaths, or damaged the reputation of the U.S. the most, or harmed national security by outing undercover CIA agents. In the greater scheme of things, this may seem as small fry compared to the long stream of serious failures in this White House.It's the most fucked up because it is easily the most crassly political act ever taken by this administration. Bush is so thoroughly a PR vessel that he can't even tour a disaster zone without his human backdrop. He's been a PR marionette for so long -- clear brush for the cameras! -- that he's become thoroughly incapable of keeping it real. God forbid he try to connect with people, get a better understanding of their efforts to cope with real disaster. That's not worth his time. Nope, it's got to be turned into a frickin' Bush campaign commercial. Everything is political. Everything.
It's The Truman Show -- in reverse. The star knows the universe is artificially constructed and carefully scripted. It's the audience who is gullible and believes the daily pageant is reality while unable to perceive the stagecraft cuing every sunrise.
But, over time, Truman began to see the facade and learned to read the lies until he walked out of a world contrived strictly for television.
All shows that must go on eventually end their run and close. All that remains are the pictures.
So, today, you get a picture of the president. But isn't that what you get every day? Isn't that all you ever get?