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High Plains Grifter

High Plains Grifter

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Published by Kregener

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Published by: Kregener on Mar 15, 2008
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High Plains GrifterThe Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
Part One: The Ties That Blind
 The mad cowboys are on the loose. Pack only what you can carry.Liberate the animals. Leave the rest behind. The looters are hot on thetrail. Only ruin stands in their wake. Not even women and children aresafe. Especially not them. Run for the hills and don't look back. Don'tever look back.So the story goes, anyway.We find ourselves living out a scene in a bad Western. A movie filmedlong after all the old plot lines have been exhausted, the grizzledcharacter actors put out to pasture, the Indians slaughtered andconfined to desert prisons, the cattle slotted into stinking feed lots, thescenic montane backdrops pulverized by strip mines. All that remainsare the guns, bulked up beyond all comprehension, and the hangmanand his gibbet. We've seen it all before. But there's no escape now.Someone's locked the exits. The film rolls on to the bitter end. Cuemusic: Toby Keith.Perhaps only the Pasolini of 
could have donethis celluloid scenario justice. Or the impish Mel Brooks, who gave us
(one of the greatest films on the true nature of American politics), if you understand the narrative as comedy, which isprobably the most emetic way to embrace it. Both Pasolini and Brooksare masters of scatological cinema. And there’s a mound of bullshit todig through to get at the core of George W. Bush.Because it's all an act, of course, a put on, a dress game. And not avery convincing one at that. Start from the beginning. George W. Bushwasn't born a cowboy. He entered the world in New Haven,Connecticut, hallowed hamlet of Yale. His bloodlines include twopresidents and a US senator. The cowboy act came later, when he wasfamously re-birthed, with spurs on his boots, tea in his cup and thephilosophical tracts of Jesus of Nazareth on his night table. Bush is apure-blooded WASP, sired by a man who would later become thenation's chief spook, a man frequently called upon to clean up themesses left by apex crooks in his own political party, including his ownentanglements (and those of his sons) with the more noirish aspects of life. His grandfather was a US senator and Wall Street lawyer, whoshamelessly represented American corporations as they did businesswith the Nazi death machine. Old Prescott narrowly escaped charges of treason. But those were different times, when trading with the enemywas viewed as, at the very least, unseemly.
 
His mother, Barbara, is a bitter and grouchy gorgon, who must havefrightened her own offspring as they first focused their filmy eyes ontoher stern visage. She is a Pierce, a descendent of Franklin, thefamously incompetent president, patron of Nathaniel Hawthorne andavowed racist, who joined in a bizarre cabal to overthrow AbrahamLincoln. (For more on this long neglected episode in American historycheck out Charles Higham's excellent new bookMurdering Mr. Lincoln.)Understandably, George Sr. spent much of his time far away fromBarbara Bush's icy boudoir, indulging in a discreet fling or two whileearning his stripes as a master of the empire, leaving juvenile Georgeto cower under the unstinting commands of his cruel mother, who hisyounger brother Jeb dubbed "the Enforcer." This woman's veins pulsewith glacial melt. According to Neil Bush, his mother was devoted tocorporal punishment and would "slap around" the Bush children. Shewas known in the family as "the one who instills fear." She stilldoes...with a global reach.How wicked is Barbara Bush? Well, she refused to attend her ownmother's funeral. And the day after her five-year old daughter Robindied of leukemia Barbara Bush was in a jolly enough mood to spendthe afternoon on the golf course. Revealingly, Mrs. Bush kept Robin'sterminal illness a secret from young George, a stupid and cruel movewhich provided one of the early warps to his psyche.Her loathsome demeanor hasn't lightened much over the years.Refresh you memory with this quote on Good Morning America,dismissing the escalating body count of American soldiers in Iraq. "Whyshould we hear about body bags and deaths and how many," thePresidential Mother snapped. "It's not relevant. So why should I wastemy beautiful mind on something like that?"Even Freud might have struggled with this case study. Imagine youngGeorge the Hysteric on Siggy's couch in the curtained room onBerggasse 19. The analysand doesn't enunciate; he mumbles andsputters in non-sequential sentence fragments. His quavering voice awhiny singsong. The fantasy has to be teased out. It's grueling work.But finally Freud puts it all together. This lad doesn't want to fuck hismother. Not this harridan. Not this boy. He wants to kill her and chucklein triumph over the corpse. Oh, dear. This doesn't fit the OedipalComplex, per se. But it explains so much of George the Younger'ssubsequent behavior. (See his cold-blooded chuckling over the statemurder of Karla Faye Tucker.)Perhaps, Freud isn't the right shrink for Bush, after all. Maybe thepresident's pathology is better understood through the lens of Freud'smost gifted and troubled protégé, Wilhelm Reich. (I commend to yourattention Dr. Reich's neglected masterpiece
.) Sadly,we cannot avail ourselves of psychological exegises of either Freud orReich. So Justin Frank, the disciple of Melanie Klein, will have tosubstitute. In the spirit of his mentor, Frank, author of Bush on the
 
Couch, zeroes in on the crucial first five years of W's existence, wherethree factors loom over all others: an early trauma, an absent fatherand an abusive mother. It is a recipe for the making of a dissociatedmegalomaniac. Add in a learning disability (dyslexia) and a brainbruised by booze and coke and you have a pretty vivid portrait of theBush psyche.With this stern upbringing, is it really surprising that Bush evidencedearly signs of sadism? As a teenager he jammed firecrackers in theorifices of frogs and snickered as he blew them to bits. A few yearslater, as president of the DKE frat house at Yale, Bush instituted abranding on the ass-crack as an initiation ritual. Young pledges wereseared with a red-hot wire clothes hanger. One victim complained tothe New Haven police, who raided the frat house. The story wascovered-up for several decades until it surfaced in Bush's first run forgovernor of Texas. He laughed at the allegations, writing the torture off as little more than "a cigarette burn." From Andover to Abu Ghraib.In his teens, this man child was shoved into a distant boarding school.It must have been a relief for him. The squirrely adolescent with thepointy ears did just enough to get by. At Andover they called him"Bushtail." Ambition wasn't his thing. And he didn't have the athletictalent or thespian skills to do much more than play the role of classgoof. So he went on to an undistinguished academic career,highlighted only by his ebullient performances as a cheerleader and areputation for selling fake IDs. Even in his youth he was adept atforgery.George the Younger snuck into Yale on a legacy admission, a courtesyto his father and grandfather. He was a remedial student at best,awarded a bevy of C’s, the lowest score possible for the legacy cohort.Repositories like Andover and Yale know what to do with the dimchildren of the elite. George nestled in his niche. No demands weremade of him. He spent much his time acquainting himself with a menuof designer inebriants. He was arrested twice. Once for petty theft.Once for public drunkenness. No one cared.When Vietnam loomed, Lil' George fled to New Haven for Houston andthe safe harbor of the Texas Air National Guard, then jokingly known asAir Canada--a domestic safe-haven for the combat-averse children of the political elite.It was a deftly executed dodge.His father pulledsome strings. Escape hatches opened. The scions of the ruling class,even the half-wits, weren't meant to be eviscerated in the rice paddiesof the Mekong--that's why they freed the slaves.But soon George grew bored of the weekend warrior routine. And whoamong us wouldn't? He slunk off to Alabama, and promptly went AWOLfor a year and a half. Nobody seemed to miss him. He wasn't a crucialcog in anyone's machine. George? George
Bush
??

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