September 21, 2006
"On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts’ desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
-- H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Sun, 1920
As Americans waddled into the new century, overweight, overworked, and as self aware as a cloister of sea slugs, so too arrived George W. Bush, affecting his bandy-legged, fake cowboy swagger, to usher in this era of unquenchable consumer craving and perpetual martial emergency.
Currently, we watch as Bush vacillates between chest-puffing belligerence and jaw-gyrating fecklessness. Due to his hapless response to overwhelming events, some commentators have made comparisons to Jimmy Carter. Not true: Carter, as beset by tumult and contretemps as his administration was during the late 1970s, never resembled, as Bush does, a tweaked-out methhead in the throes of a full blown Methamphetamine-induced psychosis.
There is little mystery as to why Bush is now beating a war drum, in time to that all-too-familiar election time, Rovian rag. Bush’s handlers are desperate: Recent polls have revealed that suburban males, Republican women, southerners, and even Christian fundamentalists are starting to have misgivings about Bush. Why? One would guess: since Bush has proven himself incapable of changing Iraqi blood into cheap, ever-available oil, this has caused, for a portion of his base, the sheen of beatitude to come off Jesus' earthly emissary.
The aura of despair leveling upon the country is undeniable. Not that there was a great deal of peace of mind previously here in The United States of Distractions. The act of being in perpetual flight from reality requires a great amount of energy; it's quite a workout pushing down dread. We’ve been faking it for a while now. Over the years, our relentless selling of ourselves to the world became about as genuine as Bush's forced smile when he's in the presence of cameras or African Americans.
Baffled and mortified by what we’ve witnessed during these Bush-afflicted years, we ask ourselves: How did this come to be?
We may be unable to answer this question -- because we cannot lay all the blame upon Bush. Our nation’s aura of insularity and hysteria was present long before Bush. Bush is merely emblematic of the depth of our collective denial regarding how cheaply we have sold ourselves to the exploitive corporate order and the concomitant unease engendered by this Faustian bargain.
Although many of his former supporters may be growing weary of him, one is cautioned not to mistake these developments for any sort of vast, societal awakening.
Bush’s steady decline in popular support is merely the result of Americans, on a personal level, beginning to feel the effects of his administration’s mixture of ruthlessness and incompetence.
But this fact alone will not effect change. One does not exactly have to be graced with extraordinary powers of perception to notice that Bush is a fraud. What is more difficult to apprehend is this: The emergence of Bush is not an anomaly. Bush is merely a symptom of the pathologies of corporate capitalism. He is not the disease.
Bush was packaged like any other corporate icon; accordingly, the war in Iraq was sold in the manner of any other corporate PR campaign. Bush is simply a product, designed by and marketed for the benefit of the elites of the corporate state.
Bush’s manufactured image is a hack's construct of mythic American manhood: He was sold as an uncomplicated man of action -- a Christian cowboy redeemer -- a man who could kill evil-doers at fifty paces. Just from a single whiff of his manly phenomenal musk, our enemies would flee back to their caves and cower in abject terror. Although events have shown, to appropriate an overheated metaphor from the Christian fundie End Time lexicon, Bush is in fact closer to an Angel of Idiocy come with a Sword of Stupidity to reveal the rot of our corporate dystopia.
The sad and tragic circumstances of our time are much larger than Bush. Bush's grandiosity mirrors us, a people who have lost all sense of proportion. Look around: notice how huge and grotesque the objects and accoutrements of our age have become: colossal motor vehicles; the portions of food we crave; gaudy, land-devouring McMansions; American consumer's enormous, sea-to-shining-sea asses. These things are manic compensations antecedent to the crash to come. Apropos, our SUVs, oversized pickup trucks, and hummers are no longer large enough to compensate for food no longer serve to push down the sense of dread; we cannot find enough room in our McMansions to hide away all of our anger, sorrow, and regret.
Mojo Nixon sang, "Everybody has a little Elvis in them." Nowadays, regrettably, we must sing: Everybody has far too much Bush in them. Internally, to one degree or another, we’re all George W. Bush. Bush is the corporate state's dancing monkey -- as, to one degree or another, we all are. The corporate state necessitates that we become, like Bush, all puffed up phonies in order to face a daily life ruled by its mandates, as well as to compensate for our inner emptiness, borne of our internalization of it.
If we choose to face our inner Bush, our habitual verities and sacred beliefs risk being shattered and scattered asunder. Because the situation is larger than us and it’s larger than Bush: Bush is merely a reflection of it all. Ergo: to listen to the mangled syntax of Bush’s speech patterns is to hear the sound of the national infrastructure crack and buckle; his booze and cocaine decimated brain cells mirror the earth's diminishing bio-diversity; his snits of entitlement and his ruthlessness echo the entropic forces of global capitalism that are driving the engines of extinction.
There is a feeling of flimsiness and haphazardness present in our daily lives here in the empire. Even the landscape before us has been inflicted with an ugly, ad hoc quality. The structures of our age evince a lack of substance. The shoddy, quick buck-snatching stripmall/big box store/fast food outlet, prefab nowhereland of the present day United States is reflective of our shoddy, quick buck-snatching leaders who are, in turn, a reflection of us. We have come to dwell within this Architecture of Denial; we have come to call this House of Distorted Mirrors, our way of life.
As, all the while, the parallel narratives of compulsive consumerism and Christian End Time Mythology surround us.
Contemporary Christian fundamentalism is a religion of consumer instant gratification. It is a religious cosmology resonating from a junk food paradigm: a Gospel of The Drive Thru Jesus; when The Rapture comes our corporeal bodies will be cast aside like fast food wrappers.
But be warned, by your eating of all that high caloric food, all of you Jesus-hungry Lard Asses of The Lord: If your clothes were to fall from you (as your prophecies claim they will) as you rise skyward, the sight of all your fat, sagging bodies floating in the air will resemble anything but the dawning of eternal paradise -- instead the event will more likely resemble an endless tape loop of a porno video for fat fetishists shot in a zero gravity chamber.
On the secular side of our sickness, Big Pharma factories and rural crystal meth labs can't manufacture enough products to prevent this sinking spell. Soon, even the ruling elites will begin to buckle beneath the weight of their self-deception. We the laboring classes already know the feeling, due to the fact, we’ve been carrying those bloated bastards, plus their delusions of infinite entitlement, on our backs for quite some time now. We strain beneath the load, because the plutocrats have grown very fat gorging themselves on the nation's seed crop.
Bush is nothing more than the effluvia, rising from the landfills of the Corporate State. He's the abiding stench of what we buried and tried to pretend never existed.
Corporate culture is based on mendacity made palatable for mass consumption: Public relation and advertising firms exist to create cute, cartoon animal icons to mask the realities of the slaughterhouse. In corporate life, there is scant reward for depth and authenticity; conversely, an amicable ruthlessness pays off well indeed.
Corporate "reality" is all about "perception management." Hence, a corporate, utterly commodified, life usurps, exploits and diminishes not only the outer environment, but our internal ones as well. How could one not play off the other and visa versa? How can one spend all day in a so-called "work environment," spending a large percentage of one's life beneath florescent lights, with sweatshop-cobbled shoes touching industrial carpeting, and bodies supported by bland, utilitarian office furniture, then return, by way of a hideous, dangerous freeway, home to some ugly suburb or exurb, all the while having one's senses incessantly inundated with commercial imagery calculated to manipulate -- hypnotize one, actually -- into a particular way of viewing the world, and not become subject to the sort of psychic pathology that is pandemic among the populace of the empire.
Living such criteria, day by day, how could we not have conjured Bush and company? Bush is only a byproduct of the present corporate order; he is but a reflection of the everyday hubris, denial, mendacity, and exploitation of daily life in the corporatist state. He is emblematic of the House of Mirrors that our nation’s collective psyche has become -- a mass of distorted perceptions sustained by professional liars and ignorant killers.
Bush is our hidden intentions made manifest before us: We live in an empire bent on murder/suicide; our nation has become a global-wide spree killer . . . unrepentant . . . seemly devoid of conscience.
Then what hope remains for us, here in this age where self-serving lies promulgated by public relations hacks have hijacked the verities of the human mind, heart, and imagination as, all the while, so many genuine voices of humanity have been lost amid this seemly endless bacchanal of bullshit and blown blood?
That is up to us: Personally and collectively, our fate might well be determined by how honest we’re willing to be with ourselves. After all, by way of our passivity, we’re at least partially responsible for letting a million Rovian Turd Blossoms bloom. We have summoned Bush by the incantation of our hidden intentions; perhaps, if we were to awaken to the George W. Bush concealed within, we might understand our own collaboration in creating him -- and then, at long last, we can begin the process of dismissing him and all he represents.
Phil Rockstroh, a self-described auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.