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Rant #162
(published January 15, 2004)
George W. Bush, Our First Hip-Hop President
by Fritz Swanson

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

—Pres. Kennedy, May 25, 1961

In the second week of January 2004, with no discernible hint of irony, George Walker Bush, 43rd President of these United States of America will declare that man shall one day walk on the surface of the moon!

So who is this mad-styling re-mixer?

GWB wants to refight his dad's war, wants to roll back social spending to McKinley levels, is proud to have presided over a burst bubble not seen since 1929 with the same panache as Herbert Hoover, and has declared, seconding the very current opinion of George S. Patton, that coalition warfare is for shit.

He dresses like a cowboy and lays down the fat beats. He wants to fight Reagan's evil empire again, and he even wants to swagger like that old cowboy (actor).

I feel like this country, this American culture, in the form of GWB, has come to some sort of meltdown moment. I don't recall the seventies, as I was very young at the time, but I do not remember ever hearing how nostalgia was a driving force of the period. I could be wrong on this, but I seem to recall nostalgia being a novelty of the eighties. Like Updike's Rabbit, the adults of the eighties started down a road of back-ward looking obsession: sock-hops and Family Ties, Gatsby vogue and punk-rock covers. The nineties, it seemed, took that fad and turned it into a foundation for culture: grunge rock was nothing but a meta-music and MTV re-asserted itself with the counter-modernity of sixties imagery re-treads. The first Gulf War tried to correct one past war (Vietnam) with a bit of selective memory from another past war (WWII). Sadaam was Hitler, and yet we never killed him; the Baathists were NAZIS, and yet we never drove them from power.

Then the Internet became the New Electro-Age, Gates became the new Morgan AND the new Edison (and in fact, has publicly said on more than one occasion that he wants to turn Microsoft into the new General Electric—GE is the last of Edison's company, and the only company to have remained on the DOW for the entire hundred plus years that that average has existed). At the height of the Internet bubble, everything had a .COM attached to its, harkening back to those bygone days of Magneto-this and Atomic-that, and I recall people even actually giving out faux-somber stock advice from the 1920's (I swear on a stack of bibles that a friend of mine said to me, "When you start getting stock tips from your shoe-shine boy, that's when it is time to get out of the market." And I thought to myself, "Shoe-shine boy?" Turns out the giver of that advice was a closet racist who would have made the Eugenics crowd of the 1930s blush.)

Finally we come back around to GWB and he is like this big blender of our American Century and her worst ideas: Voodoo Economics, huge wealth disparity, ecological conservation rollbacks, cowboys and indians, evil empires, unilateral war, arms races, missile defense... on and on and on.

And now he wants to go to the moon. And I feel as though this culture of regret, this mass-American psychosis of Nostalgia, has passed from fad to fact. In the nineties when everybody brandished a peace sign and kids got back into pot in a big way, it always felt like a thin fad, a surface anomaly that would pass. It was the cultural equivalent of a tuxedo T-shirt, a simple paper tiger.

But now, it's like the t-shirt turned into a tuxedo, and the tiger has become real.

Or worse, we've slipped into a flip-mode universe where t-shirt tuxedos are traditional formal wear and paper tigers can eat you for lunch.

GWB has consumed the Twentieth Century in Cliff's Notes form, he has internalized the Reader's Digest history of America, and it has not just informed him, it has consumed him in return.

He is going to send man back to the moon! He really means it! He has become the samples, and to him there is no remix. He really is a man with absolutely no substance, merely a cipher, a hole in space, a shape with no name and no dimension.

When his Grandfather was in Skull and Bones, he stole Geronimo's skull. When his father was in Skull and Bones, he took an Indian name. When GWB came to Skull and Bones, he only attended sporadically, and when they tried to give him HIS Indian name he couldn't think of one he liked, so he asked to be called Temporary.

He's been Temporary ever since.

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