It was all unexpectedly bearable until he mentioned his favorite word. Against all odds, Bush’s State of the Union address was materializing as a speech that was surprisingly articulate and free of millenarian innuendoes. He seemed to tackle the tough issues, like numbers involving decimals and percentages, quite adroitly. In his discussion of the immigration crisis, suggesting a coup of abstract thought, he even managed to grasp the paradox of the traditional American “melting pot” identity versus the vicissitudes of an unchecked flow of illegal aliens across American borders. It was all a cruel charade, however. Gradually—inevitably—Dubya showed up to the party with his nacho cheese–stained tie, his wrinkled shirt untucked, and a smudged obscenity written on his forehead from the night before.
With the disturbingly urgent repetitiousness of that creepy little kid in The Shining, Bush eventually commenced to mutter “freedom.” Once the deadly word emerged from his mouth, the relapse was in full effect: He was officially off the wagon. As was to be expected, “freedom” would first reveal itself in the form of the type of mock-virile, ill-constructed jab Hemingway would unleash before passing out in some Barcelona absinthe bar: “What every terrorist fears most is human freedom.” Apparently, terrorists awake abruptly in cold sweats and flee down the halls screaming because freedom is hiding in their closets. “Free people” are even spookier than amorphous, levitating, conceptual freedom. Masterfully capturing the essence of their horror, Bush intoned: “Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies.” In the future, “free people” will stalk the “unfree” restlessly across the golden boulevards of utopian democracies, forcing them to fight for the survival of their precious violence and malignance.
Metaphors associated with the undead really are shameless in regard to political discourse, but Bush’s appearances in public inexorably demand them. Amidst the countless epidemics facing the modern global community, apparently the most lethal is none other than the “contagion of violence.” Apparently the Shia extremists are the main hosts of this disease and can only be immunized by a constant influx of “free men.” No attention need be paid to the deeper nature of al-Sadr’s popular appeal. He is merely infected, so sinisterly precluding the miraculous Maliki panacea from spreading throughout the land. Actual diseases are not completely irrelevant to Bush. He hasn’t forgotten about AIDS and will make it a prime issue right after Cuba, Belarus, Burma, and Sudan are cured—of not being free, that is.
Perhaps Bush and his advisors are correct: Al-Sadr’s presence is deleterious to a peaceful future for Iraq. It is simply difficult to trust the cultural insight of a man who can muster solely “Dikembe Mutombo” when seeking to highlight the glory of American compassion to those experiencing freedom deficiencies abroad. Arvydas Sabonis of dilapidated, post-Soviet Lithuania was always a more complete expatriate post presence. Realistically though, once al-Sadr is eliminated, will a replacement not arise in his place? Once Bush completes his vision of relieving American dependence on Middle Eastern oil through mystical solar technology and safe-and-sound nuclear energy, will not his administration’s impossible political marionette only become more unwieldy? Initially attacking ideas by force, the Bush administration has been reduced to assaulting increasingly sophisticated and labyrinthine ideologies with exceedingly vague, jingoistic notions that can only serve the purpose of enhancing an already alarmingly hostile cultural rift. More than a decade of Dikembe Mutombo shaking his finger, following nasty stuffs of some of the league’s best may be some semblance of a testament to the “strength and generosity” of the United States. The fact of the matter is that anecdotes and noble words will not save Iraq and, judging from his approval ratings, apparently not the legacy of George W. Bush, fearless freedom fighter, either.