Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Through the Looking Glass, American Style

There aren’t enough synonyms for “surreal” in the English language to convey the times in which we find ourselves. The daily Merry-Go-Round of presidential campaign images and sound bites is like a never-ending bad acid trip where the White Knight is riding backwards, the King wears no clothes and words have no relationship to reality.

The latest hallucinatory experience happened this morning as I caught a few moments of Charlie Gibson interviewing George Bush on Good Morning, America. Gibson gently tossed the usual softballs to the President, then, with a wink and a nod, held up the now famous photos of Bush’s lumpy back during the debates. Well, they both got a good chuckle out of it as the Liar in Chief first denied anything was there, then, flip-flopped and said the bulge was “my shirt.” More “lunatic-conspiracy-theory” smiles and nods with Charlie and that was that.

The problem is, there is something under Bush’s suit coat. An unnatural bulge is clearly visible in just about any photo you look at of his back during the debates. The question isn’t, “Is there a bulge?” The question is “What is the bulge?” Yet there sat Bush, doing his patented good-ole boy routine, denying what was right before the eyes of millions of viewers. And laughing about it. Not only is the “shirt” claim completely unbelievable, it also contradicts what his handlers were saying only a week or so before; that it was his coat that had puckered. How can this be okay in a democracy? In a dictatorship, where those in charge tell you what to think, understandable, but in a democracy? How can we allow this type of unabashed lying go unanswered? Our president is a serial prevaricator, the Ted Bundy of bullshit, yet, inexplicably, half the population seems to think he should be leading America.

During the same show this morning came one more smack to the head in the never-ending assault of political commercials. In this “story line,” a young woman who lost her father on 9/11 admits to being depressed, but is literally resurrected and returned to the world of the living by a hug from President Bush at a rally. Okay…. You should vote for Bush because he hugged someone who was grieving. The melodrama, music and tears are intended to make this almost automatic, very normal human gesture rank up there with the parting of seas or the feeding of hundreds with a fish and a loaf of bread. When you cut through the crap, Bush hugs a young woman who lost a loved one. What would you do? What would anyone do? Slap her? Tell her to stop her whining? You’d hug her. So that must make you compassionate enough to be President of the United States.

If there were justice in this phantasmagoric, Dadaistic parallel world into which we have all slipped, the young woman would have tongue-whipped George Bush into a tearful, on-camera apology in front of the world for allowing 9/11 to happen on his watch.

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