Saturday, January 05, 2008

"He Just Shrugged"

This was a good post by Paul Krugman, playing off a Glenn Greewald post, which in turn quoted a Peggy Noonan column from 2004 about George Bush (getting multiple regression vertigo yet?). Here is the Noonan quote:
Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man. He's normal. He thinks in a sort of common-sense way. He speaks the language of business and sports and politics. You know him. He's not exotic. But if there's a fire on the block, he'll run out and help. He'll help direct the rig to the right house and count the kids coming out and say, "Where's Sally?"
Krugman comments:
What Greenwald doesn't point out is that a year later there really was a fire on the block--or, literally, a flood in New Orleans. And Bush didn't run out and help--in fact, his aides had to make a special DVD of horrifying clips from TV news to get his attention. And what he said when he finally made an appearance wasn't "Where's Sally?"--it was "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
Too true. It reminded me that I just stumbled across a classic illustration of the Bush personality, as accurately captured by Krugman, in, of all things, the airline magazine Hemispheres. It appeared in this interview with a Scottish-born celebrity photographer named Harry Benson. The story is brief:
Q: Right after you became a U.S. citizen, you photographed George W. Bush for the first time, when he was running for president. What was that like?

A: I went to the governor's office in Texas, and he was there with a golf club, practicing his swing. I told him that I had just become an American citizen, and he just shrugged. But a moment later, it must have occurred to him because he turned and pointed his golf club at me and said, "That means you can vote, and I am asking for your vote." I said, "Well, let's just see how it goes today, Gov. Bush."
Says it all, doesn't it? Bush couldn't even be bothered to congratulate somone on becoming an American--until Bush realized it meant the guy could do something to benefit him. That's how Bush measures people: purely in terms of their usefulness to George W. Bush. Thank God 2008 will be our last full year of having to see this man leading our country and representing it to the world.

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