Friday, October 19, 2007


One of the unalloyed joys in my life is the comedy of Lewis Black. Black, a New York-based comedian who appears on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, looks like a high school social studies teacher. The resemblance falls away as soon as he opens his mouth.

Black stalks the stage delivering himself of profanity-laced tirades against the rich stew of topics offered by this American life, his fingers probing the air like the antennae of some pissed-off caterpillar. He growls. He shouts. A sentence that begins as a quiet statement on the facts of a subject ends in a volcanic eruption of outrage. And--the hallmark of a good comedian--he tells us the truth--truths we believe ourselves, but that we might not broach in this time when American walls have ears and you don't know who's listening.

One of those truths reared its ugly head in President Bush's last press conference. Huffington Post blogger Bob Cesca's current offering is World War III Is Going To Be Hilarious. Cesca's piece is accompanied by a clip of Bush's expression as he pronounces his prescription for avoiding the next war-to-end-all-wars.

As always, Dubya looks positively giddy when he's talking about pain, suffering, and punishment.

Lewis Black noticed this earlier on his Carnegie Hall Performance album.

"Bush would talk about Iraq with a smile on his face," Black says. "Part of the job of being president--and I know it's hard, is to say "Oh! I'm going to be talking about war, so I have to have a frowny face."

(After he fluffs the next line--hilariously--he continues)

"...Here's something you have to realize: When the expression on your face doesn't match the words... that's fucked up!"

Bush's expression is increasingly at odds with the seriousness of our situation nationally and globally. I'm reading Robert Draper's biography of Bush, Dead Certain. It's an inside look at the Bush operation beginning with the New Hampshire primary of 2000. Reading it is like reading the narrative of events leading up to a horrific car crash that you know is coming. The book is bringing into focus for me the man who is now--without doubt--the worst president in this country's history. Once Bush was awarded the presidency by the Supreme Court, he didn't want it--except that to relinquish it would mean losing it to someone else, and Bush hates being seen as a loser. Fratboy bonhommie only goes so far when we're talking about the future of the planet. Draper paints a picture of an engaging, cunning, cheerleader with an Olympic-sized mean streak who won the job for the sake of winning it and promptly left everything up to his vice president.

Bush enjoys his daily bike ride and not much else. He can't wait to get out of D.C. so he can lounge at Camp David or Rancho Relaxo down in Texas. He can't wait to get back to Texas for good.

Meanwhile, we're left to clean up the mess he's left. F. Scott Fitzgerald said it in The Great Gatsby:
They were careless people... they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
That's fucked up.

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