Bush's smirk

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Fri Jul 4 17:35:02 MDT 2003

Bush is a man of power.  They are a separate breed. Malcolm Muggeridge
wrote some interesting things about them before he went off the rails.  He
talked for instance about "Winston (Churchill) windy rhetoric" at a time
when it was not safe to criticise Churchill.  I suspect it still isn't btw
in Australia.

For Muggeridge, De Gaulle was the most interesting of the men of power -
bad breath and all he had some culture to him.  Thus when his Down Syndrome
daughter, to whom he was devoted, died he said "Maintenant elle est come
les autres" (Now she is like the others, Lou!).

The man of power I knew most about was Joh Bjelke Petersen, State Premier
of Qld, in my street fighting days.  In many ways he was similar to
Bush.  A far right fundamentalist Christian, a ruralite, with absolutely no
cultural capital, he once got up and told an Irish Joke at a reception for
the Irish Ambassador.  No one had explained him you don't do that sort of

Petersen was stupid and still is but had the rat cunning that power brings.

Around him were the educated Right who guffawed approval at every broken
sentence, every put down, every joke and every mixed and mangled metaphors.
It all made for an image of Petersen as truly powerful, a man who
manipulated left opposition to maintain his grip of power. Liberals blamed
us lefties for playing into Petersen's hands by protesting.

When he was eventually put on trial by the new Labor Govt for attempting to
pervert justice his cheer squad of minders emerged to tell us that he had
been senile when he was Premier.

I always thought that people like Petersen and Bush mark in some sense a
limit of our humanity.  They are like the stains on the toilet bowl which
reveal that we are not as house proud as we should be.

As for Bush' smirk, yes Peter is correct, it is important.  In a very real
sense it shows the power of the ruling class. They have put a grinning
monkey, a carnival king in the White House, but this carnival has turned
truly bitter.  It is no festival from the streets, which turns the world
upside down.  Rather it is the idea of the carnival mocked by power
exercised from above.

If the left and the liberals were strong then there is no way the ruling
class would risk a Bush or a Petersen. So Bush's smirk is the mirror that
the ruling class hold up to us, to show us how weak and divided we are.



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