We’ve all acknowledged that making fun of George W. Bush is like shooting fish in a barrel. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from doing it.
Modern Humorist’s My First Presidentiary: A Scrapbook by George W. Bush (Three Rivers, $9.95), a satiric account of Dubya’s first days in office, written “with help from” Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner, is the latest volley in the raging national pastime of Bush bashing. A collection of crude drawings (“not a tracing!” is scrawled next to one) and text written in shaky crayon as if by an eight-year-old, the book reads like a kid’s lovingly compiled diary of, say, his first trip to Disney World. (And really, is W.’s trip to Washington all that different? Big fancy buildings, interesting characters, cool gadgets, his parents there to make sure he doesn’t get into trouble ...) Other sections resemble middle-school homework assignments, corrected and graded in a teacherly red Flair pen:
On one page, Dubya dreams up august presidential nicknames for himself. “Uncle Dick gave me a really good book about the Presidents and it got me thinking about my legacy,” he writes in a memo to Andy Card. “All the great presidents had a cool nickname like ‘F.D.R.,’ and ‘Old Tipsy Canoe,’ and ‘Daddy.’... On the attached page are some nicknames that I think would be good for me.” The list includes both “Chico” and “The Man,” as well as “Dubya Dutch,” “Squinty McGinty,” “(George) Walker (Bush former owner of the) Texas Ranger(s),” and “The Great Pronounciator.”
It’s hilarious stuff, doubly so when one imagines these simplistic sentences being read in that voice: the slow Texas drawl, the o-ver-e-NUN-ci-at-ed WORDS with hard CON-sonants and a de-LI-ber-ate de-LI-ver-y, a desperate bid to prove that he’s not as DUMB as you might THINK.
Consider a letter from Dubya to convicted cop-killer and lefty cause célèbre Mumia Abu-Jamal:
The missive is accompanied by a drawing of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar strapped into an electric chair.
This humor certainly makes Bush out to be a complete and utter doofus. Indeed, that’s a conclusion that about half the US population has already drawn for itself. But for those righteous souls who feel that characterizing the leader of the free world as a dimwitted child isn’t fair, consider that the Clinton era has given us a whole new standard by which to judge our leaders. And which is worse, anyway? A philanderer, or a man who can’t (okay, just doesn’t want to) read? We’ll let Dems and Republicans agree to disagree on that one.
But at least this book settles one question: Democrats are funnier.