Wednesday, August 13, 2008

CURTAIN CALL. I sort of like the Guardian slideshow of President Bush Olympic LOLs, but something bothered me about it. At first I thought it was because the style was pretty transparently ripped-off of LOL President. But LOL President is itself a rip-off of LOLcats, so I guess by now it's just an hommage without attribution. (You know, like my Shorters!)

Then I noticed that LOL President was moribund, posting nothing since June 4. And I think I know why. There had been some funny Obama and McCain bits in recent months, but nothing brings the lulz like a good Bush photo funny.

This is made painfully clear by the President's behavior at the Olympics. I actually watched him during the Opening Ceremonies. He seemed impatient and petulant during the big parade, thwacking his flag against his leg and looking around as if for a beer vendor at a ballgame. And of course we've all seen him discomporting himself around Misty May Treanor.

I don't normally make much of the President's many social liabilities, which are irrelevant and pale in comparison to those of his governance. But it hit me: this is all he's got left. While the nation attends our ridiculously personalized Presidential contest, looking for displays of elitism or senility, the star of our national drama is mostly becalmed, sullenly reading statements and puttering around the White House. And he's actually a very successful performer, and one who seems to enjoy his effect on people, even when (maybe especially when) it annoys them. For years he seemed tickled that his repertoire of frat-boy stunts and cowboy posturing held the nation's interest. Now, for the most part, he has to lay low, lest he remind voters already disenchanted with the Republican Party of the grim results of his Presidency, or international war crimes prosecutors of signs of depraved indifference that may be used against him in a court of law.

The Olympics provided Bush with a golden opportunity to reinsert himself into the public eye like a sharp stick. As the effect had no domestic political resonance, he could let it all hang out. I'm sure nobody who wasn't extremely high has had as good a time anywhere as Bush had in Beijing. Politics to one side, it was almost charming.

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