Who would have thought it? George W. Bush as President. I almost forgot what nauseated disbelief was like: I had not felt it so intensely since Reagan won in 1980. You look around, dazed and confused, and wonder: how did this happen? What is this country that elected this man as its President? (That is, if it did elect him: we still don't know what happened in Florida, and we may never really know.) Back then, even if you despised Reagan for his politics, you had to acknowledge his charisma, or at least that others felt its sway. It's the same with Clinton today: even if you loathe him for his duplicity, you have to admit his intelligence. Media puff-pieces aside (why is it that so many journalists are soft on Bush? Do they still cower before the accusation of liberal bias? Where are the liberal media? Will this be another Teflon Presidency?), George W. has neither the charms of Ron nor the smarts of Bill. But he may have enough of both to make him more than effective as a demagogue. We know this person from high school or college, the privileged guy who seemed easy to get along with because he already had it made. Although some resent the type, others identify with it - extravagantly.
LRB 30 November 2000 | PDF Download