With regrets for all the chaos and death and destruction, it was necessary that George W. Bush should ascend to power and retain it for two terms of office. He is a singularly giftless man, but he brings one gift to everyone: disaster. Placed at the pinnacle of the greatest military empire in human history, its wealth and reach unimaginable in Caesar’s day, equipped with every conceivable advantage that the very most powerful, influential cabals of rulership and commerce and warmaking can bestow, all of their collective beneficence concentrated behind his every purpose, yet he will fail.
Say what you will about the accomplices secretly running the show: Bush himself is the president. He is no dupe. A slobbering cretin nearly incapable of forming a coherent thought, or of operating a bicycle on a hill without running over a policeman; a feckless, soulless meta-bureaucrat with the attention span of a hydroencephalitic flea preoccupied with revenge, machismo, booze, and proving to his father he’s not a latent homosexual: these things he indubitably is. But he’s not a puppet merely. It is his magical ability to wrest defeat from the jaws of victory that will end America’s unsuitable world domination. Then we can get on with averting the next ice age. Far too late to save what’s left of the world as we know it, but that’s the cosmic joke our species seems never to get, no matter how often the punch line is repeated.
Bush is only the latest of many such necessary evildoers. There’s always somebody. Hitler, an even more egregious schmekel than G.W. Bush, was the inevitable instrument of the destruction of Europe as it had been known for a thousand years. Things simply could not remain as they were, and he saw to it that they didn’t. The Great War wasn’t enough of a hint for those old countries whose pastime it had long been to annex each other and swap royal bloodlines, feeding their various empires on the flesh of distant lands. So along came Hitler with WWII. Unfortunately America, which came late to both World Wars, got to feeling superior and decided an empire could be done properly: it just needed to be run by folks that were elected, not handed the job through fortunate birth. We set about the task, our elected leaders passing the torch from one grasping claw to the next, and built up a pretty good portfolio of client states and resource-rich territories outside our borders. That showed those old-Europe types!
Here’s the problem. Empire is the sole purpose and certain downfall of political power. We got our post-European empire sure enough, paddling around in various bits of Asia before settling on oil-rich climes at the buckle between Eurasian shirt and African trousers. We got fat and complacent and began to believe our own press about the goodness and greatness and rightness of America, her jiggle & kill blow-dried Surfer Jesus playtime commercial culture, anaesthetic low-calorie pilsner beers, and infinite opportunity for the right blend of complexion and connection. We began to imagine we were shaping the world to fit our image.
This is the first symptom of a dying empire. Check out this kickin’ toga, bro. Pretty soon everybody will be wearing them instead of pants. Hey, are those Visigoths? The second symptom is when the leaders start electing themselves by divine right or noble blood. The final symptom is that the popular weal ceases to be a factor in governance. One might argue that most empires were founded and maintained without the popular weal being considered at all, but this is simplistic. Empires rely on a mutual parasitism between leaders and people: you send us to war, we get cheap resources (or Poland). That sort of thing. Eventually, the rulers start running the show entirely for their own benefit, putting increasing downward pressure on the populace until society breaks down like my Fiat Cinquecento. Bingo! The spoils of a sprawling, resource-grabbing common enterprise have been diverted to a self-selecting few. The ticks are exsanguinating the hyena. What’s next? A leader must emerge from the top ranks to ruin everything, pronto.
That leader is George W. Bush. He brings his gift of failure to our nation and the world. That is the real similarity between him and Adolf Hitler. And various Caesars. And Richard of the Crusades. They come along at a time when empires need collapsing, after which the common business of mankind can proceed. That said, I’m hoping he gets it over with soon I’d look awful in a toga.
BEN TRIPP is an independent filmmaker and all-around swine. His book, Square In The Nuts, may be purchased here, with other outlets to follow: http://www.lulu.com/Squareinthenuts . Swag is available as always from http://www.cafeshops/tarantulabros . And Mr. Tripp may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.