William Rivers Pitt: The Ballad of Dumb George
The Ballad of Dumb George
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Friday 21 July 2006
I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid. Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid so stupid that it goes way beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid. You are trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Stupid gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity stupid. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid.
- "The Ultimate Flame," author unknown
George W. Bush is a good man, word has it. He's plain-spoken, they say. A regular fella. A good guy to have a beer with, except he supposedly doesn't drink anymore.
I wish, more than anything, that he were drinking. I wish he were drinking all the time. I wish, oh how I wish, that he were stand-up-fall-down-ralphing-down-his-shirt loaded every minute of every day. It would be a comfort, simply because it would explain a great many things. Having a drunk for a president is, after all, a fixable situation. Put him to bed at Camp David for a few weeks and surround him with Secret Service agents. Let his body clean itself out. Problem solved, and really, would anyone actually notice his absence?
I don't believe Bush has gotten off the sauce, if truth be told. I know more than a few boozers who, like George, periodically show up with odd wounds on their faces they got from falling over or running into walls. The injuries that appear on George's mien from time to time can perhaps be explained away - maybe Dick Cheney is stalking the halls with a shotgun loaded with rock salt and blasting anyone, even the boss, who gets in his way - but if "George still drinks" were up on the big board at the MGM Grand sports book, I'd take the bet no matter what the oddsmakers had to say.
Having a drunk for a president is manageable. Having a stone bozo for a president, on the other hand, is a calamity of global proportions.
Let's take a walk through the last few days. George winged off to Russia for trade talks at the G-8 summit, and managed in the course of 100 hours to embarrass himself and our entire country. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is smarter than Bush by several orders of magnitude, insulted George in front of the international press corps with a tight quip about "democracy" in Iraq. No trade deal got done. The whole thing was a humiliating waste of time, captured best by all the photos of Bush and Putin together. In each and every one of them, Putin is looking at George with an expression that somehow conveyed disgust, disdain and awe simultaneously.
Putin's disgust and disdain are easily understood - the poor guy was trapped in a room with our knucklehead president for hours, after all - but the awe requires notice. What, Putin must have thought, is this fool doing running a country?
After that came the much-noted open-mike gaffe, during which George dropped an s-bomb while discussing the Middle East crisis with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The cussing doesn't trouble me - those who know say that John F. Kennedy swore like a sailor whenever he talked shop - but the rest of the scene was like something out of a high school cafeteria. Bush sat there, talking with what looked like seventeen doughnuts stuffed into his gob, while poor Tony tried to discuss matters of life and death.
You have to listen to the audio to get a full grasp of what transpired. It wasn't just the dialogue. It was the tone in Blair's voice. He sounded for all the world like a teacher attempting to explain something to an exceptionally dull student. His tone suggested infinite patience and a touch of true sadness, as if he could not quite believe he was speaking this way to an American president.
"It takes him eight hours to fly home," said George at one point during the open-mike massacre. "Eight hours. Russia's big and so is China." He was, presumably, speaking to someone about Chinese President Hu Jintao's travel requirements, but really now. Huffington Post writer Cenk Uygur captured the unbelievable vapidity of the discourse.
"Russia's big and so is China?" exclaimed Uygur. "This guys sounds like a third grader. Do you know anyone who would have a conversation like this with their neighbor, let alone a business associate, let alone a world leader? Who's proud to know that Russia is big and so is China? If someone is this ignorant, they're usually embarrassed and try not to talk much. But this guy is so dumb he has no idea how dumb he is. This sounds like a conversation you might have with a child, a mentally challenged child. Johnny, do you know how big Russia is? How about China? This would all be unfortunate if George were your dentist, or worse yet, your accountant. But he is the leader of the free world. This man makes life or death decisions every day. If you say you're not scared about that, you're lying."
Then came the pig-roast thing. Newsday described it best: "As Israeli warplanes were preparing an attack on Lebanon Thursday afternoon, and a Lebanese militia was aiming a rocket at the ancient Israeli city of Safed, President George W. Bush was bantering with reporters in Germany about a pig. Bush kept bringing up the roast wild boar he was about to dine on at a banquet that night, even when asked about the swelling crisis in the Middle East, where pig meat is forbidden to religious Jews and Muslims. 'Does it concern you that the Beirut airport has been bombed?' a reporter asked. 'And do you see a risk of triggering a wider war?' 'I thought you were going to ask me about the pig,' Bush replied blithely. Then he brought the pig up again - for the fifth time - before giving a long answer that ended with his saying Israel needed to protect itself."
After this came the moment when George tried to give German Chancellor Angela Merkel a back massage while she was speaking to someone at the summit table. He sidled up behind her and just started rubbing. Merkel's reaction was instantaneous and dramatic: she flinched, flailed her arms up and basically waved the president of the United States away from her. Her reaction would have been no different if Bush had dropped a live catfish down the back of her shirt.
What's next? Will George go to the United Nations, sit on Kofi Annan's head, and fart like some bratty brother tormenting a sibling? Will the cameras catch him playing penny hockey during Middle East peace negotiations? You can't say it'll never happen. It reminds me of the scene from "Caddyshack" where the golfers are hiding in the bushes and betting on whether the Smails kid picks his nose. It is not too farfetched a concept to believe that the other G-8 leaders were doing something very similar while watching Bush.
There were, by my count, no less than twenty different moments in the last few days where George brought shame and disgrace upon this country. He did not do this by being too tough, or too soft, or too strident. He did this simply by being himself. His head is an echo chamber where very stupid bats roost. He has the intellect of a bag of rocks. Maybe it's impolite to say this, but it has to be said.
And yeah, Mr. Uygur, it is really, really scary. I wish the man were a drunk. I'd sleep better, and so would the world.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.