The Beautiful Minds of the Bush Family
On the Larry King show Monday, First Lady Laura Bush demonstrated that the Bush family's legendary compassion deficit is contagious, if not genetic. Even as daily attacks in Iraq climbed to an average of 230 last month, Mrs. Bush casually dismissed the suffering of American troops and Iraqi civilians alike:
"Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody."
This shocking detachment is just the latest episode of callousness from the still-popular First Lady. During the 2006 mid-term elections, Laura Bush belittled actor Michael J. Fox, a proponent of stem cell research and victim (along with 1.5 million Americans) of Parkinson's disease. Of his advocacy efforts, Mrs. Bush sneered, "It's always easy to manipulate people's feelings." And in a May 2006 interview with Fox News, Laura shrugged off her husband's abysmal approval ratings:
"I don't really believe those polls. I travel around the country, I see people, I see their response to my husband, I see their response to me...A lot of people come up to me and say, 'Stay the course.'"
Apparently eager to diminish the suffering of others, the First Lady remains mum when it strikes closer to home. As a 17-year old in Midland, Texas, Laura Bush was involved in a fatal car accident, running a stop sign and causing a collision that killed one of her friends in another vehicle. Regarding that tragedy, her spokesman Andrew Malcolm said in 2000, ''To this day, Mrs. Bush remains unable to talk about it.''
Of course, Laura Bush deserves some slack for her seeming cold-heartedness. After all, decades of exposure to the Bush family was bound to have deleterious effects on the First Lady's sense of empathy and basic humanity.
That blighting of the soul can be found in a abundance in her husband. (To prevent this piece from exceeding the length of the Oxford English Dictionary, we'll just focus on this year.) On January 16, 2007, President Bush poo-poohed Jim Lehrer's description of the day's carnage in Baghdad, saying, "death is terrible." Two days earlier, Bush admonished the Iraqi people, telling CBS 60 Minutes "I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude." In that same interview, Bush echoed his wife's assessment of the Iraq horrors Americans witnessed on their televisions, "They sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night."
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Bush continues to maintain his claim of compassion. One month later on February 12th, George W. Bush proudly declared, "I made a name by being compassionate." Just two days later, President Bush refused to acknowledge the civil war in Iraq, amazingly telling a press conference, "It's hard for me, living in this beautiful White House, to give you an assessment."
No discussion of the beautiful lives of the Bush clan would be complete without a discussion of family matriarch Barbara Bush. Barbara, of whom Richard Nixon famously said "she knows how to hate," offers us a rich history of outrages against the poor, her family's political opponents and even her own staff. Back in a 2003, Barbara Bush foreshadowed her daughter-in-law's recent despicable statement during an interview with Diane Sawyer:
"But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that."
With the American public overwhelmingly opposed to her son's course on the war in Iraq, why indeed?