Signature Sleaze

February 12, 2008

The Bush administration is contemptible in so many ways, it’s often hard to decide which bit of corruption or malfeasance is the most disgusting. But after all these years, and with the eviction of the weasels now only months away, one must conclude that the manipulation of the War on Terra is Bush’s signature sleaze — the one bit of depravity Bush has pioneered and made his own.

After all, we’ve had greedy and crooked administrations before this, we’ve had secretive and manipulative governments before this, and we’ve had power-hungry and abusive presidents before this. But for a man to stand atop the rubble of the World Trade Center, with the ashes of thousands of incinerated Americans swirling about him, and speak encouraging words through a bullhorn, all the while figuring out the ways in which he’ll be able to exploit this national grief and work the angles for political gain — for a man to be able to do that and still greet the public with a bland smile on his face — that, my friends, is no small accomplishment, and it is the defining achievement of George W. Bush.

I don’t know which is worse: the fact that the Bushies waited until the eve of a presidential election to put six alleged 9/11 conspirators on trial, or the fact that it’s so unsurprising, so utterly in keeping with everything else they’ve done that the response isn’t outrage but a kind of weary contempt. Even Nixon felt the need to cover things up. Not so King George II.

The old “I’ll protect you from the terra-ists” con got him through the first midterm and his re-election campaign, but now even Bush seems bored with it all. In the past, whenever he put a dish of dog shit in front of us he’d at least feel obliged to make a speech about how it was really chocolate ice cream. But now he just shoves the dish across the counter, gives us a “What did you expect?” sneer and swaggers off to choreograph a final round of looting and giveaways for his cronies. He knows there are still some chumps, huddled around their TVs watching Fox News, who’ll lick the dish clean and not even ask for some napkins.

Don’t call George W. Bush a failed president. Public service and stewardship were never part of the equation. He’s gotten the chance to play Caesar, his pals have been able to gorge on public funds like pigs at a pastry cart and everyone in the country club is going to go on making money long after the Bushies are evicted and the White House properly fumigated. He’s got every reason to smile. He’s won all the marbles.

Of course, he’s flushed his party down the plumbing in the short term, but they might be able to scramble back up. After all, it’ll be left to a Democrat to clean up the mess, and if there’s one thing the Republicans are good at, it’s shitting in the bed and then blaming the Democrats for poor housekeeping.

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