“[Bush’s] face seems to be involved in a somewhat painful, quasi-involuntary struggle to prevent itself from erupting into a broad, self-satisfied smile . . . a what-me-worry?”
- The New Yorker's Joe Klein -
In a recent Associated Press photograph, President Bush flashes his “what-me-worry?” smile at the camera while shaking the hand of Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha. Abu Risha is not smiling, by the way. He is deadly earnest . . . or worried . . . or scared.
For the ex-Texas Ranger front man and glad hander, it was just another photo-op—one of the thousands he’s posed for and walked away from and forgotten about since 2001. For the sheik, it was a death warrant—a specialty of the ex-Texas Ranger and governor. But because of pressing business elsewhere in Iraq the Reaper was a short while in arriving.
Abu Risha, a Sunni Arab tribal leader and one of the Bush/Cheney administration’s highest profile allies, was killed by a roadside car bomb planted 150 feet from his home ten days after Bush smiled for the camera and shook his hand.
Commenting on the sheik’s assassination, Bush pledged to continue supporting anti-insurgent efforts in the Anbar province, an area he called “a good example of how our strategy is working” in Iraq. Abu Risha’s home is in Anbar. Enough said.
On May 1, 2003 the Commander in Chief, in the co-pilot seat of Navy One, landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Before standing beneath a banner which read “Mission Accomplished” to announce the end of major combat operations in Iraq, the ex-Texas Ranger glad hander spent his time shaking the hands and slapping the backs of young men and women who were engaged in the deadly business of war.
In an official White House photograph, the president is seen smiling in the midst of orange-clad members of the carrier’s crew. For Bush, his flight-suit charade on the Abraham Lincoln was just another photo-op. For U.S. military personnel and the Iraqi people it was a death warrant.