Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bush 2005: Still the Loyalty Enforcer

Ran into my friend Jerry (not his real name) at a funeral yesterday. He was sitting in a corner by himself looking exhausted.

I wasn't surprised. I'd heard through his wife that he'd been doing a lot of foreign travel. Jerry is a political consultant specializing in polling. He used to make a good living working for moderate Republicans. But since the advent of the "new" Republican party of Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and company, Jerry has been blackballed along with other consultants who refuse to kowtow to the extreme right. So now he does most of his work with candidates and parties in the former Soviet bloc who are learning about electoral politics for the first time.

Me (sympathetic): How are you, Jerry? You look tired.

Jerry: Exhausted. I just got back from Europe and I'm going again tomorrow. Six days in Romania, five in Hungary, four in Ukraine. I don't like it but it pays the bills.

Me: I hear you.

Jerry: But do you know what these guys in the administration are doing now? They're trying to keep me from working over there, too.

Me: You're kidding.

Jerry: One of my clients is an Eastern European president. He told me he was talking with President Bush--President Bush himself--and Bush said, "You know, you don't want to be working with this guy Jerry Schuster. He's not our sort." (Shaking his head) Can you believe the pettiness?

Unfortunately we can. Bush's fans like to excuse his frequent factual misstatements by saying, "He's a CEO, a delegator--he doesn't sweat the details." But apparently no detail is too small when it comes to punishing his perceived enemies. Evidently Bush hasn't changed much from the man who chose the role of "loyalty enforcer" in his father's 1988 presidential campaign and became known for his ruthless avenging of petty slights.

It's amazing that the one remaining bulwark of Bush's image still unchallenged by the mainstream media is that Bush is "a nice guy," the kind of person anyone would want to have a beer with. This in the face of mounting evidence that Bush presides over and is responsible for one of the most dishonest, callous, power-hungry, and manipulative administrations in American history. Whatever else you want to say about George W. Bush, he is emphatically not a nice man.

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