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Election 2004 - Some Food For Thought



George W. Bush has a unique relationship with the English language and public speaking, as these audio clips demonstrate.
Click to listen/ download (mp3 format):

Plus a couple bonus mp3s:

by Barbara Gibson

I’m trying to love you, George,
or even just accept you.
I think of reasons: you own
a Scotch terrier--that's endearing,
but it doesn't help my negative attitude.
You resemble a Scottie, too:
full of aimless energy, barking
for no reason, jumping on people
who don't want you.

I'll try another tack: to see
the young boy you are inside--
maybe ten years old--awkward,
self-conscious, and strangely
innocent but at the same time
mindlessly arrogant, like young
boys often are. So unsuited
for the role you play: son
of the king, whose heavy robe
was thrown on your shoulders
because a chorus of seductive,
sinister voices said: "You have to do this."
You weren't prepared--not at Yale,
and certainly not in Texas. You were lost
in the coke and alcohol zone.

Admit it: you've made the world
worse: more hatred, wars, poverty,
violence, destruction--not all
your fault, but all on your
scorecard, George. You know it.

Maybe some morning--
this is my hope--you'll wake up
to the truth of how things really are,
and that truth will knock you
on your sorry ass. Maybe
you'll laugh in a scared, humble way,
and wonder "How can I get out of this?"

The people you think of as friends
will be too freaked out to help you.
Ask your mother. She seems sensible.

If all else fails, get down on your knees
and confess your sins. Pray to the God
you say you serve for guidance
on how to get out of the mess you've made.

George, think of it: wouldn't it be great
to retire early and play golf all day
or drive your SUV around the ranch,
hooting at cattle? No more
boring meetings, no big decisions
about matters you don't understand.

The world might stop hating you.
The world might come to love you,
when we see, in all its splendor,
your essential goodness, how vulnerable
you are--like us--and even how likable
you are just as a guy.

I could see you as a stand-up comic,
or a sports commentator, or maybe
you could go to Afghanistan
or Iraq and clean up the rubble,
pass out medicines, something
lowly, something real.

If the God you worship
bears any resemblance
to the One I love, that God
would be pleased, more than
pleased: ecstatic. Want to see
Jesus in a state of bliss, George?
Give up, resign, start over again.

I want to do that too. I’m starting
here, with trying to love you.


---Barbara Gibson grew up in Normal, Illinois, which is, she thinks, ironic. She taught writing and women's studies at several colleges before becoming a mental health councelor. Her latest book is 'Psalms for Troubled Times', in which she interprets the Psalms in contemporary language and imagery. She lives in Olympia, Washington.

Bush and America: The Awkward Goodbye
by Scott Allan Stevens

Imagine this scenario being discussed on Oprah. The boyfriend has moved in, has maxed out credit cards for dubious reasons, has been violent to neighbors, is unresponsive to the girlfriend's concerns about his behavior, and continues to be inarticulate, secretive, and misleading about important parts of their relationship. He seems constitutionally incapable of admitting his mistakes. But she still finds him compelling and strong.

Oprah asks the audience: "After four years of this, should she give him one more chance?"

" No!" shouts the audience. They're thinking of the welfare of the girlfriend, of course. But ending a bad relationship frees both people and gives them new avenues for growth.

The four-year relationship between America and George W. Bush has hit the rocks, and it's time for them to go their separate ways. It's not really the fault of either; the match was forced by Bush's overzealous de facto parents (the Supreme Court), and neither he nor America was ever quite comfortable in the relationship.

His family connections have always gotten him jobs, including this recent position in the White House. He never seemed to make the job his own, never resolving the conflict between his clear compassion for ordinary people and the behind-the-scenes pressure to cater to the administration's friends and business cronies. He seemed to thrive on the reaction to terrorist attacks, but never articulated a clear vision for America's future.

Now it's time for America to start seeing someone else. Maybe John Kerry can bring more to the relationship. He shows promise in being articulate, thoughtful, willing to admit mistakes, and aware that life and politics are complex and can't be reduced to simple categories of good and evil.

But right now-prompted by a thoughtful email I received from Olympia poet Barbara Gibson (see right column)-I'm wondering what Bush will do with his post-presidential life. He will have some soul-searching to do about what he did right, and where he failed. Unable to succeed in the White House at his intended role of national unificator, will he step up for some particular cause or ideal?

Jimmy Carter also left the presidency with a mixed record. But instead of retiring into obscurity, he stepped back into public life. He built houses for the poor, he helped the spread of democracy by monitoring elections around the world, he wrote books, and he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on peace, democracy, and human rights. By most accounts he has been the most successful, productive ex-president ever.

George W. Bush isn't yet 60 years old; he is healthy and energetic. As an ex-president, will he continue to be buffeted by family and political forces, or will he find his own path and set a unique, personal seal on his legacy? I'm eager to find out, and I wish him the best.

©2004 Scott Allan Stevens, Earball Media



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