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Chew Before Swallowing...

US President George W Bush said he felt "great" on Monday, despite having fainted and fallen from a couch after choking on a pretzel over the weekend. Bush cut his face in the incident.

“That’s when I first got to know Ken and worked with Ken and he supported my candidacy for — and — but this is what — what anybody’s going to find if — is that this Administration will fully investigate issues such as the Enron bankruptcy . . .”

Does anyone have to guess whose quote this is. Like a short circuit in a minefield of managed deceptions and covert realities George tries to make a statement. If Bill was compartmentalized George is fragmented - fractured even. Keeping track of who should know what and what is technically troubling and what is damaging perception is a challenge for the most agile mind. For George it is close to meltdown. The choreographed events and the kid gloves with which the media and Democrats deal with this appointed military dictator is motivated by fear of meltdown. They all know he can't quite accommodate complexities and direct challenge. The linchpin of the American event is made of a questionable alloy and most are afraid of the consequences of truly testing his metal.

When Al Gore attacked tax cuts for the wealthiest one per cent he was accused of waging a class war. Did he wage it or just see it coming - in waves? To the dominant forces in this nonexistent class war, a president and its administration are enablers. A president, to those who are able to land one in the white house, is a board member more than an expression of the will of the people. This seems to be the theme that Enron trumpets. It may or may not be a legal problem but it is, if you will, a spiritual problem. The spirit of representative government is and should be passionatley scrutinized. George as poster boy for this lack of representation needs also to be scrutinized. Perhaps he won't be indicted but he must be pressed.

The fact that Clinton was pursued as hotly as he was made me feel he must have been doing something socially conscious and he disconnected from the dictates of the one per cent to whom Bush is presently and sentimentally loyal. Bush and his backers want us to believe that if compelling and legal social responsibility is removed from the construct of democratic capitalism the beloved trickle down model will take care of all bleeding heart concerns. George knows how good his backers are - he knows they are guided by Christian principles - he knows that if they make their mother lode they will be more generous than any government could ever be. They are, after all, his people. The twenty-nine Enron insiders who made enormous fortunes are his people - not the thousand or so that lost modest fortunes and the thousands more that lost their jobs. They may be Republicans but they are ultimately not his people.

George can deny accusations very well. He is comfortable with denial because he was raised with the notion that no one has the right to expect the truth from you if you are crucial to national security. With an adolescent smile George jokes that he had to choose, or Laura made him choose between Jim Beam and her. So he just stopped drinking - cold turkey. AA was not necessary because George, by virtue of family connections, had Billy Graham. This denial of anything serious, deep or complex at the root of his drinking or at the root of anything that happens to him or us, has been embraced by the public. It is a form of mass hypnosis as well as a form of internalized class distinction. George comes from an entitled universe and that universe gets a begrudging respect from the people it oppresses. There is no other explanation for the serious consideration that gets lavished on George except this residual fear/awe/deference that regular folk feel compelled to give those who have obtained and secured power. Those rich powerful people must know something that we don't because - well - just look where they are and look where we are.


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The media is falling over itself not to make any irresponsible assertions or implications. Nothing illegal has happened. Enron made phone calls and the white house didn't lift a finger to help them. This proves how honorable this president is. Yes - people watch closely what comes out of the white house so why would they think of trying anything improper. George has even abandoned sending any e-mails because he is so conscious of being observed. There are things about which we know he's being secretive but the things about which we don't know he's being secretive are the ones that may very well be pushing the crises we find ourselves digging out of:. From election 2000, to ergonomics, to the secret energy policy meetings, to the California energy "crisis", to Kyoto, to avoiding the Israeli peace process, to the Durbin council on racism, to thwarted FBI investigations pre 9/11, to Enron and on and on, we see fins cutting through the surface of the water. Those fins make one truly horrified of the unseen. Smart citizens are like panicked swimmers treading water keeping their eyes on the circling fins which makes them even more sickeningly scared of what lurks unseen.

Whatever George isn't keeping secret he may not know or he has jumbled so effectively in his inner discourse that he is safe from culpability. Above all else he must be above culpability. Coming off of years of manufactured culpability for an elected president, George and company have an obsessive need to circumvent all possibilities of humiliation. Humiliation is not part of his birthright and it seems as if the hypnotized masses and the participating media need to give him that. Like subjects fearful of rattled royalty we'll join the necessary denials that make his personal survival possible thinking it will also figure into our survival. But will it?

It seems that the aggression manifested to Bill Clinton during his tenure was almost primitive. Looking back and contrasting it with the undeserved deference being lavished on George, Bill somehow was deemed not entitled to natural deference by virtue of his class and ironically by virtue of his intellectual acuity. He was treated as if he were uppity white trash and needed to be put in his place no matter how smart he and his wife were and even though, or maybe because, he was the "misguided" choice of a morally compromised people. He and they needed to be set straight about who is allowed to run the show. Baker and Scalia helped to make that clear to a "confused" public in 2000.

The fact Bill was so smart meant he could take whatever they had to dish out - or they seemed to be cruelly interested in how far he could be pushed. He did not enjoy that "subject" deference that is developed in citizens spawned from the British empire. George II fits that profile. Appear as though you are speaking for the good hard working men and women of America but you are not one of them and you will be deemed worthy of genuine respect. The video tape of Clinton's deposition which was aired around the world was a tape intended "innocently" for someone who couldn't attend the deposition. Would a Bush ever allow something like that to happen? Bill did not have the built-in protection and insulation and that made us worry. How could he let it get to this? Shouldn't he have more powerful connections? He did not have the sense of entitlement that protects lesser intellects. The reflex sense of entitlement that George arrives with is all that is required of him by the forces that protect him. He has property rights on the truth - or more to the point, he is given permission by the public to sell a version of the truth that we have the stomach to swallow.

And now it's just been reported that George has fainted. He choked on a pretzel or he was coming down with a cold or his heart rate is low or.... As a human being I hope he's fine - no one should be hurt or disoriented - as a citizen one wonders if George's physical condition is another truth we need to be protected from and one also wonders if this fainting spell is caused by, as the Washington Post reports, intestinal cramps or - fear. Could it be he's seeing his own set of fins in the water? The official story seems to stand as a pretzel not going down right. Straight from the president's mouth is that his mother told him when eating pretzels to chew before he swallows. It's simple - it's not fear or any other more complex underlying cause - it's a pretzel that he didn't chew the way his mother told him to. The moral of the story for America is - Listen to your mother. So we will. A pretzel, like the truth, especially when twisted, is something that we all really need to chew before swallowing.

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis is a playwright.  Archive of his Common Dreams' articles here. His personal website here.

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