The bawling of the Bush babies

Photo Illustration by Carey Wilson

Jaime O’Neill is a retired Butte College English instructor and frequent contributor to the News & Review

Sometimes, the apologists for the Bush administration seem more than a little childish. George W. Bush is like a father figure to them, and any criticism of their daddy is threatening. They simply have to believe that the man in charge is making good decisions, is protecting them and keeping them safe from harm. Without such a faith, the world is just too scary. You can’t really blame them. Remember, they’re just babies. Bush babies.

So, like the children of a neglectful or abusive father, they make excuses for him. If anything goes wrong, it’s just not his fault. The first line of defense for Daddy is that there simply is nothing wrong. Bad people are just spreading falsehoods about their old man. Everything is just wonderful, in fact, and would be even better if the mean ol’ liberal media and other gossips in the neighborhood would just stop telling lies about Daddy.

In the parlance of Dr. Phil and other psycho-babblers, these Bush babies are “enablers” living in a persistent state of denial. Out of a combination of love, fear and self-delusion, they create an alternative reality that allows them a small measure of tranquility. All is well for the Bush babies, though the garbage can is overflowing with empty booze bottles, though the mortgage payment is long overdue, though there are holes in the roof that Daddy never gets around to fixing, and though the checking account is badly overdrawn. Dad isn’t neglecting them by being passed out on the couch; he’s just taking a nap. And, hey, if the roof is leaking, it’s because the former owner shot it full of holes years ago.

And it’s OK if Daddy took out a whole bunch of credit cards in their names and has been busy maxing out those credit cards while planning to leave big debt for these Bush babies long after he’s gone. Hey, that bill hasn’t come due yet, and we must remember, babies don’t know much about finances.

And if thugs in the neighborhood are circling the house, the Bush babies have no problem with the fact that Dad has squandered the money allotted for installing new locks. They are so forgiving of Daddy they’ll even give him a pass on gambling away the house money they kicked in from their allowances. They don’t care that Daddy doesn’t play fair, or that he gives lots and lots of money to more favored children from an earlier marriage, while giving very little to the kids at home. Bush babies just feel lucky to have a daddy at all.

The excuses the Bush babies make for Daddy Bush are remarkably like the kinds of retorts we used to hear back on the playground during recess in elementary school. When they are flat out of defenses, Bush babies resort to a variation of the “so’s your old man” rejoinder that was so popular in third grade. In this keen intellectual analysis, they simply answer any criticism of the president by saying that the president before him did the same thing, only even worse. So much for dealing with the issues at hand. But you shouldn’t be too hard on them for that.

But “so’s your old man” is not the only argument in their arsenal. There’s the “you’re ugly, too” argument they throw at people who diss their daddy. Anyone who criticizes Daddy only does so because they’re so personally pitiful they don’t recognize a really great daddy when they see one.

We are all familiar with how it works by now. The kids are left home alone and the wiring that Daddy was supposed to have fixed shorts out and a wing of the house burns down while the kids all scream for help. Then, a day or so later, Daddy comes home looking all concerned and businesslike and the kids are just so tickled to have what looks like an adult on the premises that they all just gush over what a great daddy they have.

Or, if the neighbors on the one side of the house throw a brick through the window, and then Daddy Bush goes and picks a fight with the neighbors on the other side of the house, the Bush babies are happy because at least daddy is doing something, even if the fight he has picked with the wrong neighbors is giving new strength to the really bad and dangerous neighbors who picked the fight in the first place. That’s how it is with babies; they understand strength better than strategy.

Or sometimes Daddy Bush hasn’t left them home alone, exactly, but he’s hired baby sitters who don’t know one end of a baby from the other. And he pays those baby sitters big money and promises them bright futures when they go out into the world because the fact that those baby sitters once worked for him will get them really cushy jobs in big corporations or consulting firms. It doesn’t matter that the babies got a rash that damn near killed them. Once Dad gets home, he’ll sprinkle a little powder around, and the babies will stop their sniveling, and everyone will be happy again.

They’re babies, and they’re simple, and their needs are easily met. Give them a tiny bit of candy, and they won’t notice that the cupboard is bare, ants are in the sugar bowl, rats are in the attic, and the foundation is beginning to crumble from the rot.

Just let Uncle O’Reilly, or one of those other creepy uncles spin the Bush babies a little fairy tale. That will quiet ’em right down and make everything better.