No matter which side of the fence you’ve perched yourself upon, you’ll have to agree that George W. Bush doesn’t know how to work a room anymore. Gone is that “they can run, but they can’t hide” bravado, that aircraft carrier-straddling “mission accomplished” swagger, only to be replaced of late by performances that can be charitably described as “wooden.”
Nowhere has his decline as a performer been more apparent than in Monday night’s much hyped immigration reform speech. Reeking of flop sweat and with all the passion of an automaton, Mr. Bush announced his “five point plan” for immigration reform. Despite a cherry position in the Monday night line-up — not only the lead-in for Prison Break but also Deal or No Deal ferchrissakes, the President barely mustered a monologue that would not play in the most boorish of venues.
In a program that sorely needed a grand opening, Mr. Bush chose instead to offer a tired, but safe, cliche — “We must secure our borders.” One could almost hear a collective moan when he uttered those words. But the President was undeterred by the sigh, and continued with a half-hearted proclamation that he is sending 6000 National Guard troops to the troubled US-Mexican frontlines to assist US Border Patrol officers. Hoping to reel the audience in, he added that we have more than enough troops to win the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the soon to be announced addition, Iran — plus, deal with natural disasters, and secure the border, too.
While he hoped that declaration would give new emphasis to the buzz phrase “army of one,” the audience saw it as meaning we will eventually have one soldier in every country on the planet. One must build empires by whatever means are available, after all.
In the second act, Mr. Bush tried to catch a second wind with abysmal results. He trumpeted out his “guest worker” initiative, with his tired line that they do the jobs Americans won’t do. The audience merely shook their heads at this point in the performance — it echoed that Archie Bunker mentality of the seventies, or worse, that “good nigger” racism of the early sixties.
Reeling from the hisses from all quarters of the venue, Mr. Bush attempted a comeback by using his tired old saw about corporate America benefitting from a workforce bereft of any rights, and, by extension, Americans would somehow reap the harvest through lower prices at the retail level. That was small consolation to the portion of the audience that couldn’t afford to boost the economy because they could not find a job. Patriotism is either linked to crisis or an empty wallet.
In the final act, Mr. Bush attempted in vain to validate his performance by recounting the story of a young illegal immigrant who is proudly serving this country, not his native country, because he was so damn proud to be in this country. The audience was not impressed, despite the mom and apple pie slideshow that accompanied the little tale.
They’d heard it all before.Powered by Sidelines