“President” Bush’s approval ratings have reached nethermost levels in the past year—80% of us have finally awaked to the reality that this Chief Executive is beholden, frankly, only to Chief Executives. How in the world were so many Americans fooled into thinking George Bush was the good buddy you’d bring to your house for a beer?
Conservative talk radio? No, I actually believe we were fooled by television. No not the mainstream media newscasts, but…
In 2005, my husband called me into our family room and pointed to the ‘big screen’. He had paused the DVR on a black and white photo of a handsome young man, who had recently passed away at the age of 79. “Quickly, who does that remind you of?’ he prodded.
I hesitated, my expression giving me away. It was clear that the picture was of the late Johnny Carson from his early days in broadcasting. But, the initial thought that had crossed my mind was not Johnny, but George W. Bush.
“Oh, my God…” I never really had consciously made the connection. The much honored entertainer who had graced our living rooms—and our bedrooms—for thirty years, and had truly become a part of our families was a dead ringer for our 43rd president. America had laughed with Johnny, and cried with Johnny. His brilliance, his intelligence, his sharp wit were packaged on the tube in twinkling eyes and a warm smile. We welcomed him into our homes every day—weary after a day’s struggles, we let ourselves rest our heads on his cathode ray shoulders, and, always relaxed, always in control, Johnny met our needs by providing us solace and laughter. Johnny’s personal life did not always echo his on-camera success, but his covenant to us, his audience, was unbreakable, and, in thirty years, he never let us down. In contrast, our president…
Looking at photos of both men through the years, it became clearer why many Americans would have found Bush a potentially appealing candidate. Though much less articulate than Johnny, Dubya shared the same twinkling close-set eyes and “naughty boy” generous smile. Watching Bush at a photo-op brought back memories of Johnny, Ed, Doc, and their guests cavorting on the soundstage in “beautiful downtown Burbank”. Just like Johnny was for so many years, Dubya was seen as “one of us”. The transference from trusted Johnny to trusted president deluded red-state voters into believing that Bush’s covenant was with them, and not Halliburton, et al. And so, blindly, they voted for the man they thought they knew.
At long last, George W Bush’s approval rating has finally begun to reflect the failures of his administration. The daily carnage in Iraq, coupled with the heart-wrenching scenes of suffering in the hurricane stricken areas at home, finally showed most Americans that ‘the man behind the curtain” was truly not the charming, caring, and capable “host” of our country that his marketers had tried to portray. The ghost of Johnny Carson was washed away by the waters that flooded New Orleans and the blood on Baghdad’s streets, and in its place tragically stands George W. Bush, on his own, as himself.
“And so it has come to this.” *
*Quote from Johnny Carson on his last show, May 22, 1992