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Airbrushing the Bloodstains from their Hands.

There’s something that seems to happen to presidents in their last year of office, if the president is chummy with the media conglomerates and did what he was told... otherwise that president winds up as chum. These team player presidents get a makeover, a sort of ‘queer eye for the straight guy’ kind of thing.

If the president has been- as in the cases to be exampled- a serial murderer, a hard case based on bodyguard power, an incompetent- and composed entirely of poster board to a similar depth, that president begins to mutate into someone who had to make tough decisions about tough situations; a man who was the victim of bad advice who made the best lemonade he could manage, a man who was not a posturing fool but a man of gravitas and insight whose deep inner struggles and late night agonies of compassion, warring with necessity, cannot be shown to the public but must be assumed as true because that is what they are going to tell you.

You will be required to imagine g.w.b as a contemporary Lincoln who sat up late into the night wrestling with demons, often upon bended knee with uplifted eyes to the heavens like that famous picture of the fanciful, praying Jesus with the golden glow around his head and which would certainly be a hit transposed to velvet and offered for sale along with similar presentations of toreadors, Elvis and the bleeding heart of Jesus that graces many of the smarter living rooms in America.

I don’t know if g.w.b. is going to fade gracefully away to Crawford. It hasn’t happened yet and the people who orchestrated all of the nasty shit of the last seven years that they blamed on other people are certainly not done yet either. But in the meantime the cosmeticians are at work. The latest cheek rouging is this Preventative Foreclosure thing; you know... another bailout of the industry designed to look like it’s going to help people. It’s not going to help the most desperate; those in arrears of payments, those who’ve lost their house and those now living with relatives or in cardboard boxes. That’s not the American way at this time. But it looks good in the headline and strange in the small print.

Suddenly rapprochement looms with North Korea and flashbulbs are going off like a fashion runway as g.w.b., Olmert and Abbas mime a peace initiative that no one saw any trace of for seven years while the duly elected Palestinian government is doing the perp walk behind a razor wire fence. ♫Send in the air-brushers... don’t bother they’re here♫

You can look forward to all sorts of things like this in the coming months as this bloodstained villain morphs... step by step... layer by layer... into a legend in his own time to complement the one in his mind.

Until Reagan came along I never thought I would see a completely pseudo-human mockup in the highest office of the land. I never imagined that the sort of things that went on during that man’s terms would ever take place. I know in the past, presidents had done bad things but I thought we’d grown somehow... learned from our mistakes. Next thing I knew there were all these crazy people on the streets who had never been there before and there were homeless people living in parks and on street corners and down in the subway systems. A whole lot of bad things happened.

In the interim another president got a blow job with more immoral currency to it than a million dead people.

g.w.b. took it to a whole new level. He’s took it to levels I didn’t think possible a few short years ago. For me the disappointments in leadership and policy, action and direction have become the stuff of Grand Guignol. Now they’re going to shift that around. I won’t know what that’s going to be until I see it and I don’t think ‘they’ know either until they see who they’re dealing with and what sort of muscle and leverage they need to apply in what manner. First they’re going to have to put a new coat of paint on this nasty old whore, just like the one that they painted a few years before. Then another model is going to come out of the showroom. We’ll have to see what comes of that.

The stagehands with the airbrush wands and compressors are going to soften the effect. Cowboy George Bush and Cowboy Don Imus and all the strong-jawed boys are going to disappear into a combination A.E. Housman, Norman Rockwell poetry painting of golden lads on pickup truck diner stools, dreaming over a cup of American Joe.

Nothing that happened in this mean-spirited world is going to attach to them. In ten years time all we’ll know about Bush is that he saved the world from Al Qaeda... that Ronald Reagan made America strong and proud and defeated the Evil Empire that, whoops... there it is again.... And that Don Imus did all those charitable things, the facts of which will be airbrushed out too.

When I think about all the wonderful things that the rich and powerful are supposed to have done over time, I always wonder why there’s so much left to do. When I think about all the charity dinners at ten thousand dollars a seat... the hospital fundraising dances and university bequests, I can’t seem to get a handle on what’s missing because that got airbrushed out as well.

I close my eyes and I see armies of air-brushers marching on millions of dead, wounded and mutilated bodies and the next thing I know, I see Julie Andrews skipping and singing across a green meadow. I see ex-presidents dressed up like Gene Autry playing the guitar astride a palomino on a mesa looking out over an airbrushed sunset.

And that’s the way people want it too. If you tell beautiful lies you are going to be surrounded by beautiful people who draw their shining charisma from them. If you’re one of those people who point out unpleasant truths you are going to be unwelcome there.

People are going to tell you, you are unkind to speak ill of the president and all of the men and women who are the icons of the moment and the soft-lit, magnetic nostalgia, flashbacks of the past. After all, what would you have done if you were president? How far would you have gotten telling the well-to-do that their success demanded them to carry a greater portion of the burden of life when it is the natural destiny of the middle class and the poor based on their far superior numbers? When two men pull a wagon there is labor indeed but when you harness a hundred men to the same conveyance why, they don’t even notice it at all.

There’s a line that goes something like, “first history comes as tragedy, the second time as farce.” I’m not sure I remember how it really went but I get the tragedy and farce part.

I am awestruck at the spectacle. It hardly seems possible that someone entrusted with so much could have spent so much of his time taking from those with too little and giving it to those with too much; that he could have caused so much death and suffering, that he could have done every thing that he did... not only wrong but terribly, terribly wrong.

And all along the way it just kept going on. One tragedy followed another and every action that facilitated every tragedy was based on a lie and finally it became a farce, a real life Sweeny Todd, where an army of singing barbers cut one throat after another and then walked off the stage to a thunder of applause.

It all happened... the countless deaths and dismemberments... the hurricane ravaged countryside left by the wayside, the treason and the hateful harm to national unity and the loss of all respect and good will... the airport security of unknown purpose... the punishing weight of fear and distrust and so much more... so much more. It all happened.

Time will go by and the American Pinochet will be asked for his opinion on things he’ll know less about than he did when he fucked it all up. He’ll travel to other countries in an honorary, ambassadorial fashion. He’ll reminisce in a retrospective. He’ll reflect in a dewy eyed interview. He’ll pose with his grandchildren and one day he’ll die and long lines of black limousines will make a slow crawl to the graveyard. Some famous singer will sing “Amazing Grace”. Important men and women will speak about his legacy and the impact of his life. His widow will weep through a long black veil.

The nation will mourn and the air-brushers will paint their masterpiece. Once they are done there will be nothing left to look at or remember and then one of them will paint a man with a bullhorn standing on a pile of rubble and it will be perfect and all... that... will... remain.


Les Visible
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