Sticks and Stones

“That really hurt,” he said. “You can disagree with my politics, but don’t ever accuse me of being a racist. . . . I can see how the perception would be ‘Bush didn’t care,’ but to accuse me of being a racist is disgusting.”

Former President George Bush lying, uncontestedly, to Oprah Winfrey.

Behaving as though he might have a future in the Democratic party, Kanye West today apologized to George Bush for calling him a racist, even though he never did.  Back in 2005 he said, watching the Katrina debacle unfold and the Bush Administration’s shockingly indifferent response, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”  Bush, who received less than ten percent of the black vote (proving that African-Americans are considerably smarter than the white kind), also headed a political operation that deliberately suppressed the black vote in several key states, and ruthlessly attacked, at least rhetorically, all programs for the poor, nonetheless was never called a racist for these things, at least by Kanye West.  Though Bush conspicuously never race-baited the way so many of his Republican colleagues have, and continue to do, the idea that he did not, politically at least, “care about black people,” is just a fact, and West happened to say so.   The thin-skinned and ever-calculating Bush never got over such uppity effrontery, as he made revealingly clear in his unwatched and unwatchable “interview” with NBC’s Matt Lauer touting his new ghost-written “book.”

Facts, of course, have a liberal bias, so Bush had to substitute a plausible lie that turned him from perpetrator to victim, unsurprisingly enough. “He called me a racist,” the still-angry overgrown toddler whined, though he appears today quite hale and hearty compared to the hundreds of (mostly black) Katrina victims who lost their lives, and thousands more who lost their homes and livelihoods.  I don’t believe, nor does West, that Bush is a racist, personally, at least since he met Clarence Thomas.  He is what he is; another puppet for a plutocratic right-wing movement that does what it has to do to fool stupid people into supporting it, and sometimes lots of other people end up on the short end of this Republican stick, whether they be black, gay, Muslim, Mexican, or what have you.  It’s not hate, it’s just politics, and it’s equal opportunity, you know.

What’s depressing about this, which Bush’s petulant grudge-holding and Kanye West’s pathetically abject apology illustrates, is how successful the right has been with separating words from deeds through this now-trite ritual of false victimhood.  In New Orleans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and yes, if only through negligence, New York and Washington, Bush has been responsible for a great deal of death and suffering, but people are supposed to be apologizing to him, because at least they weren’t all darker-hued.  He may have always had an astonishing and well-documented indifference to human suffering in general, but dammit, Karla Faye Tucker was white, and he killed her just the same.  He may be a lot of appalling things, but racist is way down on the list.  Calling someone a racist, in Bush’s eyes, is the real sin, which comes as pretty good news to racists everywhere, as you can imagine.

Bush probably first hit upon this neat trick with lying, and simply branched out when it worked so well.  Throughout his (losing) 2000 campaign, he told a series of flat-out whoppers about everything from tax cuts to climate plans, and when they all proved to be lies, he relied on the fact that members of the media are hesitant to call (Republican) Presidential candidates liars, especially when they’re too busy calling Al Gore just that.  Lying is one thing; calling someone a liar is evidently quite another, at least in the American media, and Bush rode this embarrassingly naive reticence all the way into Iraq and reelection.  Paul Krugman finally broke the ice in 2003, in a hilarious NYT column entitled “Dead Parrot Society” that tallied up the many tortured (no pun intended…) euphemisms for Bush’s serial lying that had recently turned up in the media, and Al Franken’s 2004 book, “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” with Bush, Cheney, and Bill O’Reilly prominently featured on the cover, felt as though someone opened a window and turned on a fan in a locked roomful of Chili Eating Contest winners.

Sadly, this calling things by their real names movement never much caught on, and Bush as well as his (to this day!) Republican water-carriers learned their lesson all too well.  If calling a famous liar a liar was worse than being one, then certainly calling an admitted war criminal a war criminal was also worse than being one, calling a bloodthirsty Imperialist an Imperialist was worse than being one, calling a complete dumbshit a dumbshit was much worse, because it drips with that hated elitism, than being one, and on and on.  An incentive has thus now been created to behave as dreadfully as possible, thereby to attract the sort of inflammatory epithets one can then handily, and apparently for years afterward, use to tar their opponents as cruel, unhinged slanderers of one’s good name.

The rest of the world, fortunately, doesn’t fall for such inane claptrap about flagrant miscreants;  high officials in Britain and Germany have already responded to the many self-serving lies in Bush’s book by more or less directly calling him a liar, even as courts around the world are finally delving into the many international crimes of his infamous tenure in office.  He, of course, doesn’t care a whit about his horrendous legacy, and has repeatedly said so, even as he so desperately tries to duct-tape it together.  By the time he hits the history books, he blithely tells “interviewers” like Lauer, “I’ll be dead,” while hundreds of thousands of his victims already are.  He needn’t fear the history books; he ought to fear the dictionary, which never lies, unlike him.


  1. michlib says:

    It looks like in junior we may have an historic first. A sociopath with easily hurt feelings.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    It only seemed novel at first; now it’s as common as crabs in a whorehouse.

  3. avelna says:

    And this is where all of the lies have taken us:

    • cocktailhag says:

      Nice. I’m glad that at least Lithwick, Greenwald, and a few others are still writing about this. The other night I had a discussion with a teabagger who confidently rattled off all the imaginary terror plots foiled by torture, uh, enhanced interrogation, proudly. Pretty shameful.

    • cocktailhag says:

      There is no such thing as exile in the American media, no matter how many times you’re wrong. Great article.

      • Thanks CH.

        Have you ever noticed how “exile” is accepted (in fact expected) by the M$M for liberal politicians who have fallen out of favor. We will probably never hear from Alan Grayson again. But people like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and the rest of the wingnuts will live with us forever.

        • cocktailhag says:

          That’s why God invented Wingnut Welfare, y’know. Certain kinds of unemployable people must be fed, in good times and bad. And when they’ve been in charge, it’s usually bad…..

  4. nancy says:

    I encountered this line recently which has been rattling around in my head, and watching George Bush’s smirking mug this last week, so soon after the mid-terms (didn’t we all think we might get a short break?) is making it impossible to put it aside: “I prefer bad people to stupid people, because bad people sometimes give it a rest.” Jose´ Ortega y Gasset

    Of course, with Cheney and Bush we got the tag team.

  5. avelna says:

    And for more entertainment from GG’s twitter:

  6. dirigo says:

    Pathetic. And apparently, a puffy, plagiaristic paste job. Should move very well at Wal Mart.