Tuesday, August 29, 2006
George of the Bungle
I hate to reduce the monumental human tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina down to a few trite comments, but I honestly believe that everything that can possibly be said about it has already been said. Watching today's reverent round-the-clock rehash by the networks though, there was one moment that stood out for me.
George W. Bush's interview with NBC's Brian Williams would've been strikingly offensive if we weren't so used to the Bush methodology by now. Lewis Black joked recently that Bush's oddest characteristic is that his face never seems to fit the words that are coming out of his mouth -- a reference to the near-constant smug smirk our Idiot In Charge seems to exhibit while talking about deadly serious topics. That painful paradox was on display today when Williams mentioned to Bush that University of Pennsylvania Professor Michael Eric Dyson had been on the network the night before with strong words about the administration's lack of concern for underprivileged storm victims. As the two walked along in front of a photo-op-ready set of recently built homes, Bush chuckled mid-swagger and said, "Well, I don't know who this Professor Dyson is, but we promised we were gonna help -- and we helped."
First of all, people who say that Bush's brief mea culpa a few months back signaled an end to his asinine hubris need to have their heads examined. It's to be expected that Bush would have a natural loathing for -- and possibly even some sort of post-traumatic stress relating to -- any kind of teacher; but the snide and arrogant derision he heaped on the very word "professor" spoke volumes about the way Bush perceives himself -- and those who rightly question him. He's still thoroughly deluded enough to believe that he's just an average guy, defending average folks just like him from the tyranny of those dangerously educated, elitist naysayers. He's Gary Cooper, riding in at High Noon to stand up for the simple townsfolk.
As usual, he has his head firmly up his ass.
There's no greater irony than the fact that Michael Eric Dyson was the first in his family to be able to pursue a higher education; if ever there was an American story of success-against-all-odds, he's it. Meanwhile Dubya was afforded every opportunity in life -- had everything handed to him -- and not only chose to treat his college classes as if attendance were merely a suggestion, but then had the nerve to cynically joke at one point that he was proof that a student could maintain a "C" average and still become president.
Another highlight of the interview: Incurious George telling Williams that he reads Camus.
I'd love to come up with a way to improve on that comedically, but I'm not sure I can. I'll leave it at this: I'm reminded of the scene in A Fish Called Wanda, where Wanda, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, calls terminal idiot Otto, played by Kevin Kline, an ape. He responds by saying, "Apes don't read Nietzsche," to which she says, "Yes they do, they just don't understand it."
Toward the end of the one-on-one however, Bush said something that would be laugh-out-loud funny if it weren't so soul-crushingly depressing.
"I like to keep my expectations low."
Thanks to you Mr. President, we're all forced to do the same.