Let's play a game. If George Bush was a character in the 1970 classic Western, Little Big Man, who would he be?
The obvious answer would of course be General George Armstrong Custer. Like our president, his character combines a sublime arrogance, a juvenile sense of the heroic, and sheer forehead-slapping stupidity in a manner that can only be described as gifted. And, employing these traits to their fullest, he also leads his troops into an unmitigated catastrophe. But that's too easy. Come on, play the game.
You might pick Martin Balsam's Mr. Merriweather, the snake-oil huckster for whom Dustin Hoffman's title character briefly apprentices. But that's not quite right -- he's more of a Karl Rove role. One could ignore the gender issue and choose Faye Dunaway's Louise Pendrake, the preacher's wife whose pious personna is only a mask for an insatiable appetite for sin. That certainly fits. I'm tempted to go with Chief Dan George's Old Lodge Skins, the blind tribal chief who, convinced of his own invisibility, walks through a massacre serenely confident he will not receive a scratch even as everyone else around him is slaughtered.
But recent events have led me to choose one of the movie's lesser characters -- Younger Bear, Little Big Man's nemesis within the Cheyenne tribe. In the course of the movie, Younger Bear becomes a "contrary," a strange phenomenon in Native American plains culture who says and does the opposite of what he actually intends. He rides his horse facing the rear, says "hello" when he means "goodbye," washes in the dirt and dries off in the creek.
I came to this conclusion after Bush's recent speech in Israel, where he famously equated Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's willingness to hold talks with Iran with the appeasement of Adolf Hitler prior to World War II. Pretty inflammatory rhetoric anywhere, but in front of the Knesset? Really over the top.
But it was the response of the Israelis themselves that clued me in. For no sooner had Bush's plane left the tarmac than they announced they were engaging in peace talks with arch-enemy Syria. They apparently learned their lesson in 2006. At that time, the Bush administration egged them on in their fight with Hezbollah "terrorists" in Lebanon, and it went about as well for them as our invasion of Iraq has gone for us. Well, "never again" as the saying goes. Now they know -- whatever Bush says, do the opposite.
And the Israelis aren't the only ones. Bush's speech set off a whole wave of appeasement by our "friends" across the Middle East. The government he backs in Lebanon quickly cut a power-sharing deal with those very Hezbollah terrorists. Egypt, second only to Israel as a recipient of US foreign aid, immediately opened talks with the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip that Bush had demanded be ostracized. And the occupation government in Iraq, on whom we have spent billions of dollars and thousand of lives, reached an agreement with with the Mahdi Army the Bush administration insists is creating mischief on behalf of the Iranian Hitler wannabes.
Bush achieved similarly spectacular results on the other leg of his Middle East mission. For the second time in four months, he went to Saudi Arabia to beg them to pump more oil and bring down the price. What -- you thought all that Iraqi oil Bush told us would pay for that country's reconstruction was going to be sufficient to keep our motors humming? Au contraire. Believe the opposite, my friends. The Saudis obviously do. Naturally, they ignored him, but then they've been doing business with the former president's dumber son for decades. They've long known better than to take anything he says seriously.
If only we'd known sooner. If only we'd understood that when he spoke of the "ownership society," he did not intend that we should be owners, but that we should be owned; that "major combat operations have ended" meant "let the bloodshed begin;" that "Jesus is my favorite philosopher" meant "I'll break every moral precept the man was ever said to have uttered;" and above all, that "I want to be your president" meant "I have no interest in the work, but I can't stand to see that snotty, brown-nosing brother of mine get the job first."
Well, better late than never. So here are some rules to live by as we try to get through the remaining months of The Bush Disaster: The Sequel. Every law he proposes must be defeated, and every law he vows to veto should be passed overwhelmingly. We must vote against every candidate he endorses and vote for every candidate he opposes. Most important -- and I'm thinking particularly about the Pentagon here -- every presidential order he gives must go unheeded. I'm not saying we need a coup, just stall him a little. It's only until January. What's a bloated bureaucracy for?
In short, when Bush says: (Insert any George Bush quote here.)
Our automatic, unwavering response should be: "NOT!"
And if we follow this simple rule of thumb, I guarantee things will go much better in the next seven months than they have in the last seven years.