The arrival just now through my letterbox of the latest issue of TIME magazine with a Richard Avedon photograph of George H. W. Bush on the cover made me feel sick.
There were many successful con jobs in US politics in the 20th century but none was as successful as the one that managed to persuade tens of millions of “little people” (it is appropriate to quote Leona Helmsley) that GHWB had their interests (and those of the nation as a whole) at heart.
Please re-read what Michael Niman had to say about this wretched creature in last week’s issue of The Public. And then add one of the indictments he left out: It was GHWB who nominated to the Supreme Court—to fill the seat vacated by Thurgood Marshall for God’s Sake—the egregious Clarence Thomas.
Please watch all 17 minutes of this press conference; the whole thing is a lie:
The thing that should make our blood boil is that GHWB was far too intelligent not to know that every word was a lie. Reagan lied to the press all the time, but his Irish blarney was a part of his technique and many people saw through it. Bush, on the other hand, was a so much better actor than the former president of the Screen Actors Guild—he could make the average person believe that he was a straight-shooter, totally committed to the public good.
The link to Senator John Danforth turned out to be absolutely crucial. This clergyman-senator was Thomas’s chief champion throughout the Senate confirmation hearings, and It is reasonable to assume that he still believes that Thomas told the truth under oath.
But it is also reasonable to assume that the Danforth-Missouri-Monsanto connection was a paramount consideration in the nomination of Judge Thomas—as a factor in his being a 100 percent reliable conservative-corporate member of SCOTUS. Take a look at this:
We simple folk have no idea what the rich and powerful get up to all the time. They are fully occupied with making sure they get their way, and make more money. Nothing could be simpler—get behind a young lawyer without much of a conscience who is doing work for one of the most rapacious of corporations, and stick with him until he gets to occupy a seat on the Supreme Court for—so far—38 years. Pay no attention to the fact that he sits silent almost all of the time and is seldom called upon to write. Just chalk up one massive victory for wealth and privilege.
Dr. Niman did not have room for an even worse element in the makeup if the 41st president. The 45th grabs pussy, the 41ist grabbed balls. It’s clear that he also enjoyed patting down any attractive tush that came close enough, but it’s his way of telling men who was in charge that appalls me even more.
What does it say about a man that he will reach forward to squeeze the scrotum of the man in front of him? There is the terrible story of how LBJ was peeing onto the pants of a Secret Service detail, was called on it and told the man to deal with it. In my opinion GHWB’s behavior is much worse—I would much rather have to send my pants to the cleaners than try to cope with the pain of a ball-bag squeezed hard.
This man was an atrocious example of the effect of living a life of privilege. It has been interesting to me to take in the fact that none of the MSM people who have devoted so many hours and thousands of column inches to extolling the 41st president noticed that he died on Winston Churchill’s birthday.
The contrast between these two very famous men is stark. They were both born into futures of guaranteed privilege. They were also born with something silver in their mouths—in one case it was a tongue, in the other (as Anne Richards deliciously observed) it was a foot. But what they did with their gifts is what matters.
I am not the person to champion Winston Churchill, I am too aware of his role in Conservative Party government to be able to do that—but By God he was a man with a genuine sense of honor. And he was not out to enrich himself and his associates with every action he took, from prep school through to presidential retirement.
Two more things:
On a quiet afternoon in Hanover, New Hampshire in the 1980s, I was walking down South Main Street and saw that the person coming towards me on an otherwise empty sidewalk was Richard Milhous Nixon. Reflexively my arm started to move towards a handshake, but then I remembered which former president this was, and my hand stayed at my side. Our eyes met and I knew that he had noticed.
I shall never have the opportunity to do that to George Herbert Walker Bush, and I am sorry about that. I may never have the opportunity similarly to express my feelings towards William Jefferson Clinton, but I can still hope.
Several years ago the Tory MP Jonathan Aitken was convicted of perjury in 1999 and received an 18-months prison sentence. His conviction came about as the result of his having sued the Guardian—in the trial the newspaper was able to prove that he had lied under oath. So there was a subsequent criminal trial. When it was all over a writer for the Guardian wrote something to this effect: ”The lovely thing about this moment is that what can be printed has changed in recent times and so we can refer to Jonathan Aitken as what he has always been—a shit.”
Peter Smith, who lives in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood, is a retired academic and The Public’s contributing editor for quixotic causes.