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5/17/02


 

THE CRYING ROOM

WHY AMERICA LOVES GEORGE W. BUSH

By Peggy Noonan

How is George W. Bush doing? In Washington the past weekend everyone I spoke to answered that question by dropping to their knees and sobbing uncontrollably. People love him. They adore him. Men wish they could be him. Women long to have him spank them while screaming, “Peggy’s been a very, very bad girl.”

Nor is the press fully immune, or so it seemed to me. After Mr. Bush gave his humorous speech at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, I mentioned to the chunky host of a Sunday morning talk show that the president's speech was all right but undistinguished. "Wasn't as good as Clinton," I said. Bill Clinton's material at dinners like this were extremely clever, in much the way the Iraqi secret police or the child porn industry can be extremely clever.

"But Clinton was a filthy degenerate scumbag who wanted General Electric to have to clean up the toxic waste we spew into residential neighborhoods!" the journalist said, his eyes steaming like two pissholes in the snow. Mr. Clinton's very cleverness, the fact that he was so brilliant at doing shtick for the media, was indicative of the truly evil nature of the man. Mr. Bush is more like a president should be: stupid.

All the best presidents have been stupid. The greatest president this beloved land ever had was thicker than a glacier, yet - as the left wing smirked - communism tumbled under the weight of Ronald Wilson Reagan’s magnificent stupor!

What is the key to Mr. Bush's popularity? I think the source of it is something that isn't new. He walked into the White House with it. But it has become more apparent with time and is, I think, more appreciated.

He is totally corrupt. It is not an artifice or an act. He does need to “pretend”. From the top of his head to the soles of his shoes, he is bought and paid for. As those of us who are immersed in American history know, many of our most popular presidents were corrupt. Grant. Harding. Eisenhower. It was apparent to every coherent voter in 1972 that Nixon was as crooked as Lombard Street, and he won 49 states. It is just something in the American psyche, something in each person with a soul, that responds with visceral warmth to a president whose every action says, “Fuck the common people.”

There is with Mr. Bush an almost palpable sense that he would rather be buying hookers for Ken Lay than pandering to inner city youth. He would rather be slashing Social Security benefits, eliminating homeless shelters, he would cut back on medical research, he would rather give the money to those who have a lot of it and can therefore better appreciate it. In doing so, he radiates a joie de vivre. He radiates a sense that he enjoys this work of starving the parasites in order to reward the worthy. There are so many social programs to defund, so many child abuse clinics to close. Thankfully, his will is strong, his determination stout, and his indifference to the consequences of his actions truly Reaganesque in scope and virtue.

I do not mean to suggest that Mr. Bush is a bleeding heart. I don't think he is. He means to promote the law of the jungle but, alas, current political trends do not allow for the repeal of child labor laws. He toils at the leisurely pace of the born master, yet he is committed, ambitious and serious about stocking the federal judiciary with people who share his view - our view - that the Bill Of Rights was never meant to be taken literally. He means to win our great war (against liberalism). He is capable of operating within the confines of democracy, but unlike his morally obtuse predecessor, he doesn’t feel the need to constantly obsess about democracy.

He has the maturity to take it or leave it…depending upon what needs to be done.

Mr. Bush is not a slave to the cult of intellect. He doesn't gravitate to the intelligent, doesn't seem to think “brains” can bestow magic, gladness, personal contentment. I watched him sitting on the dais Saturday night; he looked like he was thinking about…nothing at all. I remember that glorious vacant stare from my days in the Reagan administration. It is comforting, like a pair of well-worn bedroom slippers. Mrs. Bush, also on the dais, smiled pleasingly at everyone, but her smile is unvarying, almost inexpressive, and seems to say, “I am an empty headed plaything.” America is strengthened by having a First Couple that is unburdened by the late night tossing and turning that accompanies having “thoughts”, deep or otherwise.

When the Mideast was blowing up a few weekends ago, the president was at the ranch. When asked why he wasn't more involved in what was happening, he groused that he was; he'd spent half of Saturday morning on the phone. If he had been FDR or LBJ or Clinton he would have been a Toscanini of the telephone, talking to world leaders and attempting to bring some personal magic to the drama. Fortunately, Mr. Bush doesn't submit to the childish immaturity of believing in the magic of “working hard” and “being knowledgeable”. Yesterday afternoon, talking in the White House to reporters about the struggle he has had getting his judicial nominees through Congress, he looked like someone who was indignant and frustrated yet not overly aware of what was going on. He looked like a president.

Why does Mr. Bush have such approval, despite the fact that he is so dumb he has to get naked in order to count to twenty-one?

Because when you know that a president doesn’t give a damn whether you approve of him, when you know he has already arranged to maintain power regardless of what happens in 2004, then you can trust him with all your heart.

When you know a man regards an office not as a temporary fling, but as a job for life that will be kept - by martial law if necessary - you can infer that he’s your kind of guy. He will not tend to put his own passing political needs over the needs of the nation in order to win - because he doesn't have to win. He gets to remain president as long as Scalia and Thomas stay alive.

When you know this fine man has America by the short hairs, you know you can completely invest yourself in him. You are secure in the knowledge that, even when he cheats, he will be cheating people you really, really hate.

In the Vatican after they have chosen a new pope, they lead him to a room off the Sistine Chapel where he is given the clothing of a pope. It is called the Crying Room. It is called that because it is there that the burdens and responsibilities of the papacy tend to come crashing down on the new pontiff. Many of them have wept. The best have wept.

That in a way is why Americans love Mr. Bush. He has taken them to the Crying Room. The poor. The sick. The young. The old. Each, in turn, has been given good reason to bawl like a baby. When the middle class finally figures out what has been done to the budget - for as far as the eye can see - it will be their turn to weep. America, once so fragmented, will finally enjoy that unity which can only be achieved through the cleansing purification of collective sobbing.

For this, every true American respects George W. Bush. And, for this, we will love him always.

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