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The Essential Bush


When George W. Bush so publicly displays his religiosity, as he so often does I am suspicious that his character runs in a direction opposite to that which he is trying to convince the Amercian public. There's just something completely unconvincing about Bush's character, no matter what the point of reference.

I was raised in an intense religious family that belonged to one of the most strict American-born branches of Protestantism that relies on the word of God to the extent that it requires its adherents forego the use of doctors. I mention this only as testimony that I might know a thing or two about the those believe in more exacting and basic forms of the Christian message. And thus, I feel I have the right to offer the observation that a central tenet of this message is to follow Jesus' admonition to pray in private, as it is morally dangerous to pray in public display.

Public prayer is inviting the temptation to curry public attention and popularity at the expense of true virtue. In fact, it was pretty much an established principle in my household that the more fervent the religiosity someone displayed in public, the more sin that individual was trying to hide; or, as Jesus said, it's what the Pharisees and hypocrites all do.

The question of Bush's soul has been the subject of much discussion among all those millions who instinctively recoil at Bush, who sense something deeply untrustworthy, even criminally dangerous underneath that crooked grin. Mostly, we've agreed that as the irresponsible child of great wealth and privilege, he carries himself with the weightless arrogance and practiced casualness of those who will never have to work. Bush is a spoiled brat, in over his head, with an undercurrent of mean-spiritedness.

This is all true, but there's something more: the way his stiff-backed willfulness is matched with a great malleability makes him more dangerous. His disrespect and displacement of others is matched with a sense that life for Bush is a continuing series of little implosions of his own self.

Many of us imagine a childhood for Bush of infinite entitlement and general loucheness, but there's another way the very wealthy and powerful often treat their kids, so that no claim may detract from their own locus of attention. That's when the parents treat their children as they do their servants; in a dismissive and belittling way. This is a kind of aggressive neglect, a constant agenda of inculcating powerlessness. And so the children develop the same personalities as the professional servant so often does (See Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day) - pliant, centerless; stiff-necked but lacking real backbone; their minds imprinted with the very thoughts of their masters.

I don't know the Bush family of course, but I've seen this on slightly less-moneyed levels, and I can't help but see the signs in George W. He struts and then he sulks. He smirks and then he winces. He doesn't look in the mirror but he's way buff. It's as if his arrogance and cockiness are something he's aspired toward and worked hard to get because it's what all the other rich kids do; while his essential self seems always expecting to get slapped. The man's a bundle of tics that would do justice to a mentally ill homeless person. It is a performance that will give decades worth of employment to historians and psychiatrists alike.

So, George W. Bush, child abuse victim? In a way, probably. But coming from the family he does, with his own personal weaknesses, I believe he has forces coursing through his over-taut nerves that pool in deep and lightless vortexes; snapping and hissing and sparking with dark malevolence. These personal forces which are now controlling our country have been formed by a background with generations controlling some of the most powerful political, economic and military privileges in human history. These paradoxical inner forces in Bush, displayed in the past and continuing now, give more than sufficient cause to doubt their sense of democracy and wisdom, much less their essential virtue. For the religious and conservative elites to display their broken dauphin George W. Bush as the chosen of God is the surest sign he is not.