November 08, 2003

Bush = Sauron!

I. Wherein I insult the Art World

I really need to get out of the house and do things, but I decided to get to this first:

I was rather mean to Rossi in the comments to this post of Michele's. I feel rather bad about it -- not about the necessity of being mean, sometimes you just have to put the smack down, but about the object of the smack down. From what I have read of her blog, Rossi seems to be a nice person; unlike me, she seems to be compassionate, kind, creative, and have normal human feelings. But -- when people start saying things like "bush is the scariest thing to hit this country
since mccarthur" ("mccarthur?" He was never president; surely she means McCarthy; but he was never president either) and "oh bring back clinton" it just drives me crazy.

For one thing, no one is going to bring back Clinton. He had his eight years already. That's what you get -- two terms. I swear, these people who are always going about screaming about the "fascist Bush junta" and "the Coup" would cheerfully have elected Clinton president-for-life and not seen any contradiction between the two attitudes. But her comment made me remember something I had wanted to blog about but had put to one side: the reason why so many artistic people loved Clinton and hated Bush. Here is a portion of that thought from my first comment to Rossi:

Clinton was a flatterer. I think that is why so many people miss him. People love to be flattered and talked up.

And no one loves it more than an artist. While many artists -- writers, actors, painters, etc. -- have often claimed to be iconoclasts who look at all politics with a skeptical eye, I have observed otherwise: artists will fall for any clever politico who praises them and throws them a party and gives them money, though the latter two things are not necessary. The praise is usually more than enough. (Most artists really aren't in it for the money; if only such an innocent object was their goal.) And for the President! of the United States! to come to their shindigs -- and talk to them and ask their advice (kinda) -- ! Well, it sure is a great way to get people with a lot of tv cameras on them on your side. Clinton was many things, but he was not a fool.

(Side note -- for some celebrity vs. Clinton backlashing, check out this Richard Gere slam on the Clintons. Though I am not sure Clinton did "nothing" for AIDs victims; and I am not sure what Gere thought he could do anyway -- lay his hands upon the sufferers and heal them?)

Clinton was (and is) a flatterer; Bush most certainly does not have this skill. I have not heard one instance of Bush attempting to reach out to the art world and win their hearts and minds. And they can't forgive him for it. Though -- would they even let him? Their hatred of Bush seems to come prepackaged; and I know why. See, they would have been okay with Gore in office, because, although he seems to have no more shmoozing skills than Bush does, Gore at least is seen as something of a Clinton protege -- so if they couldn't have their beloved Bill, at least they'd have someone who basked in the Great He's aura for a number of years. And I'm sure Gore would have kept the suck-up-to-Hollywood tradition going; a wise choice, considering how many celebrities are registered Democrats.

But Bush got to the Oval Office instead. And he made it clear that in many ways he was the Un-Clinton, not the least of which is the fact that the White House spare bedrooms seem to have been celebrity-free lately. Hell hath no fury like a celebrity scorned.

There is another reason most artists and artistic people hate Bush: he's just so damn dull. Dullness, being boring, is a capital crime in the art world. Think of it -- once Bush got the keys to the Oval Office, remember the news of the new dress code? Out with the jogging suits and sneakers, in with the traditional business attire in D.C. Drabwear colors (black, gray, brown, navy blue). No wonder Howard Dean, with his exciting neckties, is getting so popular among the Democrats.

The problem with Bush is that he is not exciting (say what you want about the Clinton administration, there was certainly no knowing what he or his staff would get up to next, and some people like that kind of uncertainty). He's not skilled at flattering dictators, his speech patterns go clunk (though he is getting better; if only he didn't have that high-pitched voice), his idea of a good time by all reports is watching football on teevee -- I don't even think he's into Zane Grey novels like Reagan was. What Bush is is a businessman, and if you have spent any time at all employed by a company large enough to have a setup of CEO, managerial staff, and so on you will recognize Bush's methods. I don't know if they are the best methods for running a country and a war, but they are SOP for someone like Bush. Artists don't get this: few of them have had traditional 9-to-5 jobs and those who have were often absolutely fish out of water and hated their jobs so much they find it impossible to look with any sympathy on the denizens of that world who wanted to be there. Bush-haters of the irrational kind seem to almost want him to be a slavering demon who has scores of Arab children chained in a basement; that would be so much more exciting than the dull, crass, drab reality. Therefore: Bush = Sauron, and worse, he has the ring. We are all doomed, but doom is so poetic.

Posted by Andrea Harris at November 8, 2003 11:26 AM

well it sounded like there was something of an apology in there somewhere
so i shall take it
if thats how its meant
and so it seems
you know one thing that really horrifies me
about the state of this country since bush took office
is what happens whenever one
like myself speaks out against bush
it is met with what seems and feels
like blind rage..
of course i felt that in micheles comments section today
but the worst i think was for all those who were anti war on iraq
i was not anti war
although i do think we went for the wrong reasons
and it was handled in the worst way
but what scared me was how
anti-war protestors were dealt with...
here in nyc
anti war protestors
were treated as
terrorist sympathisers
and it wasn't until the human rights organizations got involved that this stopped
or seemed to stop
the message was
if you are not pro-war
you are anti-american
thats a very frightening message
this is much what i feel when i speak out against bush
a wall of rage
and of finger wagging
and scolding
i dont like this man
he frightens me
i think if he has his way
many of our basic human rights
in this country will be lessened
but i support
and salute
the right of anyone
to stand up and say they love him
or stand up and say they hate him
or stand up and say they want to be him
i support the freedom of speech
and expression
with all my heart
i only wish
that i could say what is in my heart about this man...which of course i do say...
without always feeling such venom in return
so again
while i dont agree with you
on many things, clearly
i support you and your right to say them
i am glad to read how you started this post out
because i too
felt a little raw
reading the comments this morning
and this is something of
a chaser
i'm sure we will chat again
on subjects
we do agree on
and the experience
will be more pleasureable
and yes
i cant spell for shit

Posted by: rossi at November 8, 2003 at 02:53 PM

Your attempt to cloak your pontifications in poetry is also less-than-impressive.

Posted by: Patrick Chester at November 8, 2003 at 03:40 PM

Why does it always have to be either love or hate? The problem with the Bush haters (and I'll admit some of the Bush lovers have this problem too) is that they seem to think they are living in a cartoon world where everyone is either good or evil with nothing in between. No normal people who are right about some things and wrong about others, people who are good but sometimes make mistakes or sometimes put some of their own interests first. No, everyone has to be either pure good or pure evil.

Another thing is that many Liberals hold Conservatives to a far higher standard than they expect of themselves. It's okay for Democrats to make mistakes or even get caught doing something really wrong, but Republicans must be absolutely perfect.

Posted by: Lynn S at November 8, 2003 at 03:49 PM

what Lynn said.

Also: as someone who likes rossi's blog AND Andrea's (and tends to agree with Andrea about most things), I appreciated the apology. It's too easy for us bloggers to get mean in comment threads - I certainly do it myself.

Posted by: Yehudit at November 8, 2003 at 05:59 PM

Rossi: of course I in turn support your right to say what you want about anyone. As for blind rage... well, there are a lot of fools in the world, and they all seem to be on the internet. But not all disagreement indicates "rage" -- it could be that some people aren't very skilled at writing, or their parents never taught them how to be polite (much less how to recognize the proper time to take the gloves off). Then again, there are a lot of people who are panicked at the idea of a Democrat in the White House at this particular time; I am not so sure that would be a bad thing as the war goes. From what I remember wars went on no matter what party the president belonged to (for instance, Kennedy, who sent the troops to Vietnam, was a Democrat, Johnson, who presided over most of the that war was a Democrat, and Nixon, who pulled the troops out and shmoozed with China, was a Republican). In a sense the situation in the Middle East is no longer under the president's control; they certainly aren't going to change over there just because of what we do here. If Howard Dean or someone like that ends up with this situation, I doubt he'll find out he is able to simply end it with a wave of the presidential hand.

As for what Bush wants to do to our civil liberties... I am not so sure, yet there is that businessman tendency to be practical (or what seems practical) instead of idealistic. Of course one must be ever vigilant in guarding one's freedom, but we have to keep in mind the situation we are in. This is wartime, and we can't close our eyes and pretend the bad stuff isn't going on because we can't see it.

As an aside, not necessarily directed at you, I wish that so many of the people complaining about our threatened freedom would also not complain about how the administration hasn't done anything to make them safer or more secure. This is putting the government in an impossible double bind. You can have absolute freedom or you can have absolute security; you cannot have both. And actually, you can't have complete security; that ship (if it ever existed) sailed on 9/11/01. I get the sense that a lot of people's eyes were opened that day to just how awful the world outside really is, and they can't deal with it. Too bad.

But anyway, there isn't much the government can do about security without doing all those civil-liberty-threatening things everyone is worried about. So we have kind of unsatisfactory setup where sometimes grandma gets frisked at the airport and sometimes nobody does and sometimes a guy brings a can opener or something on the plane "just to show he could" and everyone goes ape.

As for the protests: it is difficult not to wonder where the sympathies some of the people protesting the war lie, especially the ones cursing Israel and saying things like "Bush = Hitler." As for instances of human rights violations -- I haven't read every single thing on them because I just haven't had time to do everything, but if there are links to any corroborating stories I'd appreciate them. Warning: I tend to take what appears on sites such as Indymedia and Commondreams with a boxcar of salt.

I could say more, but I've got to end this someday. I'll just say that I don't "love" or "hate" Bush -- I don't know him, those are emotions I reserve for friends and relatives. I approve of some of the things he has done, disapprove of others, and am neutral or haven't made my mind up on others. I felt the same way about all the other presidents that have come and gone, and will continue to do so. I don't get particularly passionate about politics; it just isn't one of my interests.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 8, 2003 at 07:54 PM

now that
is the best piece ive read all day

Posted by: rossi at November 8, 2003 at 07:58 PM

I'm lucky enough to be a Texan and to have spent a couple of hours with George W. Bush during his first campaign for Governor. I am utterly mystified by the rampant paranoia about this man and his Administration. Bush has been President for almost three years, the people who have been screaming about 'crushed dissent' and vanishing freedoms for that same length of time are still running around loose. We know that there have been a bunch of people audited by the IRS for speaking out against the President, unfortunately that President was William Jefferson Clinton.
Where are the Gulags?

Posted by: Peter at November 8, 2003 at 10:17 PM