Poppy II

Dan Froomkin:

Even as Washington’s punditocracy relishes the storyline of the elder-statesman father riding to the hapless son’s rescue, President Bush insisted yesterday that he doesn’t talk shop with his dad — and certainly doesn’t ask for his advice.

Bush’s first one-on-one interview since his brutal rebuff at the hands of the voters on Nov. 7 was a tame affair, thanks to Fox News anchor Brit Hume. Here’s the transcript and the video.

But when Hume brought up the issue of his father’s influence, Bush responded with a forced grin, a clenched fist and a somewhat petulant response: “I’m the commander in chief,” he said.

And Bush’s explanation for why he doesn’t talk policy with his dad simply doesn’t hold water.

“You know, I love my dad,” Bush said. “But he understands what I know, that the level of information I have relative to the level of information most other people have, including himself, is significant.”

Oh, please. That’s obviously not the real reason.

So here are two more-likely possibilities: Either Bush does talk to his dad and doesn’t want people to know; or he truly has no interest in what his dad thinks.

The latter still strikes me as the most likely. Bush, after all, remains the son whose actions can be seen in large part as a reaction to his father — rather than an homage.

As Bush biographer Bill Sammon wrote in 2004: “President Bush is resolved not to repeat what he thinks were the two fundamental blunders of his father’s one-term presidency: abandoning Iraq and failing to vanquish the Democrats.

And don’t forget Poppy’s “no new taxes” pledge.

You don’t have to be Freud to know that Junior suffers from the Mother of All Oedipal Complexes. Someone on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown last night pointed out that Junior has spent his whole life trying to one-up his old man. For example, Poppy was an oil guy, so Junior tried to be a bigger oil guy (and failed). Let’s also take note of the fact that Poppy is known for his patrician, eastern blueblood demeanor, while Junior is the only person in his family who developed a Texas accent and affected an aw-shucks, regular-guy persona.

Thomas de Zengotita writes at Huffington Post about Poppy’s breaking into sobs while talking about Jeb:

Well, obviously, he wasn’t really talking about Jeb. It was all about W.

Little George is hopeless, and always has been–and Big George knows it, and always has, and so has the whole family. Medium George may be nothing special, but he is a grown-up and, most important, he displays that wire-jaw air of moderated self-possession that is the very definition of Wasp manhood in the privileged precincts wherein the Bush tribe dwells.

Jeb was always the heir apparent. He was supposed to be The One.

Little George, on the other hand, was a profound embarrassment to the Bush clan, drunk or sober, oozing and leaking uncontrollable emotions, in triumph and defeat, ever since he earned his mother’s lasting scorn throwing his tennis racket to the ground after flubbing shots on country club courts back when you had to wear whites to play that urgent (but discretely so) pong-ponging game with those who bore so effortlessly the grace of timeless class.

In his heart, Big George blames himself for Little George’s manic need to match and surpass him. In his heart, Big George knows that this Iraq insanity has been a long drawn out substitute for the fist fight a drunken Little George once challenged him to on the lawn of one of their stately manors back in the day when the world was young and the Atlantic stars shone down upon the estates of a virtuous American ruling class.

There could be more to the sobs — or less. Lord knows nobody named “Bush” is going to be elected president for at least a century. Given the fact that what happened in Florida 2000 was a family project, I can’t feel too sorry that the lot of them must abandon politics and crawl into private obscurity as soon as Junior is pried out of the White House. This whole family drama is karma on meth.

I still think it’s significant that the words Poppy choked on were decency and honor.

6 thoughts on “Poppy II

  1. W’s pathology suggests some early childhood (1 – 3 yrs.) problems with Mama Bush. Some sort of love/hate I suspect.
    First born boys are more often overachievers, but if Mama criticized/rejected Georgie, he could easily end up the way he is.
    I must admit that I have not taken a liking to Mama Bush.

  2. To the extent that there is a psychological motive, I think Bush doesn’t quite know how he got here (to adulthood, to the presidency), and probably feels like a little kid sitting in his dad’s chair. He has always had handlers and advisors taking care of him. He fears that people will notice the fraud, and he gets nervous when he gets off the tight leash.

    In the Lakoffian sense, the metaphor of Bush the Prez requires him to present the strong father image, or else the whole authoritarian thing falls apart.

    So, Bush feels that he isn’t presidential, but he knows that has to keep up the act of looking presidential. Any suggestion that he is running to his father for advice or consent is a direct contradiction to that metaphor.

  3. Given the fact that what happened in Florida 2000 was a family project…

    Hunter Thompson said that he knew Al Gore was never going to be President, when he saw the whole Bush clan on television that night, smiling and nodding to each other.

  4. Why was Poppy Bush crying? Was he crying for the nearly three thousand American men and women who have been killed in Iraq since the wrong son was elected, the far larger number grievously wounded, with physical and emotional scars they’ll carry for life, or the even greater number of Iraqi dead and wounded? Was he weeping for the way worldwide sympathy for America in the wake of 9/11 was wantonly transformed into worldwide hatred? Was he feeling the world’s pain? Somehow, I doubt it.

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