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May 27, 2006

Performance Problems? Or, No Longer That Kind Of Guy?

Whosmacho



Reporter: Mr. President, you spoke about missteps and mistakes in Iraq. Could I ask both of you which missteps and mistakes of your own you most regret?

Bush: Sounds like kind of a familiar refrain here. Saying “bring it on.” Kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. But I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, “wanted dead or alive.” That kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted. And so I learned from that.

  – From Thursday evening Bush/Blair Press Conference

Here’s where I’m a little confused about this cover.  The illustration equates the loss of virility with the failure of Bush’s aggressive and adventurist policies.  With Bush’s more moderate stance on immigration, however, and now the admission that his macho attitude was a central failing in prosecuting the war, what does the illustration say about Bush’s political shift to a more humble style?

And, does a softer Bush make any sense at this point?

The wingnuts have been completely taken aback by Bush’s sudden “emasculation.”  In what stands as a profound statement, Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs didn’t even mention the Bush-Blair press conference.  On Hot Air (Malkin’s new conservative video blog), on the other hand, the discussion thread attached to the clip of Bush’s statement of “regret” was dripping with disgust over Bush’s “wimpification.”

Although supportive of the new, more fortified Democrats, The Prospect’s lead article ultimately builds an argument for American leaders abandoning the macho act.  For someone like Bush, however, who has built his whole persona around testosterone and swagger, you have to wonder how soon the death of “Bring it On” might spawn similar illustrations in the right wing press.

(Full transcript/video of Bush-Blair press conference)

(image:  Aaron Morales. Sculpted illustration by Liz Lomax.  The American Prospect, Volume 17, Issue 6. June 2006)

  • http://www.wreckingboy.com/madworld Nezahualimón Johnsettia, Jr.

    I love how he couldn’t even bring himself to form a complete sentence in which to envelop his fake Lesson/Regret.

    “Sounds like kind of a familiar refrain here. Saying ‘bring it on.’”

    So heartfelt.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/richsodergren/ rchsod

    even a penile implant isn`t going to inflate bush`s virility. yet this new whimpy bush is just an act and after the elections he`ll be back to blowing up frogs

  • PTate in MN

    LOL! One picture is worth a thousand words! This image has such glee that I am having trouble reflecting about how the “the death “Bring it On” might spawn similar illustrations in the right wing press.” The flaccid missile, the withered body, the swollen, scuffed head, the chagrined expression, the narrowed, gulping neck… it’s the visual equivalent of a punchy, raw stand-up comedy routine!
    I’m struck that that while the image is of failed macho, the image itself is pure ebullient male humor. It’s got gusto: The artist/viewer feels powerful and upbeat.
    I think the right wing would not draw such a image–they regard the wimpification of Bush as a matter for dark contempt and disgust, not sunny good humor. Their images would be darker, more shaming.
    Turning from the image to the text–so when asked about missteps and mistakes in Iraq, Bush responds with a response straight out of marketing communications. He needed to express himself “maybe in a little more sophisticated manner….in certain parts of the world [his tough talk] was misinterpreted.” So the only mistakes he has made with regard to Iraq have to do with the message he communicated? This is the logical equivalent of saying that the problem with torturing people at Abu Ghraib was that someone took photos.

  • http://www.jaxxattaxx.com/ black dog barking

    The missile, once locked on the enemy, now targets the Decider. An intercontinental boomerang.
    There’s a story that LBJ kept Hoover as head of the FBI because he’d rather deal with J Edgar inside the tent pissin’ out than outside pissin’ in. Contrast recent statements by 8 or so Generals in re: the failure of the civilian administration of our military. Maybe the cartoon President should keep the helmet on.
    PTate’s comment is dead on, perhaps a bit too kind. There’s no apology in the President’s remarks. He wasn’t wrong, his words were “misinterpreted in certain parts of the world”. In the grand bullshit tradition of the non-denial denial witness the non-apology apology. Apropos the slouching missile in the illustration, the President didn’t even bother to stand up straight at his pulpit-lectern while delivering these (not)contrite words.

  • lytom

    You can fool all the people some of the time…
    For bush it is becoming impossible to find a strategy to do anything to lift the spell of his failures and idiocy. Excuses won’t do.
    The fact that he is still a president is mind boggling.

  • Thor Likes Pizza

    I am male.
    Wonder what it must be like to be female and have your friends/acquaintances rave about that stud, ‘oh – he’s so hot, makes me moist,’ etc.
    Only to look at the ’stud’ , scratch my head and mutter ‘eh?’
    Must be what the bush fanboys are thinking.
    The chris matthews types.
    the assholes.
    ‘Why – I don’t think he’s so tough’ – as if it is a fucking godly revelation.

  • Cactus

    When people (men?) get masculinity and missiles confused, they tend to use the missiles in war to prove that they are masculine. Don’t bother to remind them that they never served in a war themselves (oops, with a couple of notable exceptions). I’m sure W’s contrite attitude cloak will increase in inverse proportion to the distance from November 2006.
    A friend of mine uses the term ‘male-identified women’ to describe women who subscribe to the male hatred of women. We can all name examples: Schlafly, Malkin, Coulter (pay no attention to the rumors that Coulter actually IS a man). As such, Malkin’s reaction, or lack thereof, can be seen as a response to the betrayal of that identification. She’s pinned her persona on the he-man/breast-thumper who’s turned into a wimp just because 70% of the people hate him.
    If this were a cartoon cel, that slouching missile would wink at the viewer and promptly swallow up W, writhe on the deck while digesting, then emit a big BURP!

  • readytoblowagasket

    This strikes me as funny, but I don’t think the missile is supposed to be seen as flaccid. The missile is definitely aimed at Bush, so it still has to have some “Oomph” left in it to count, yes? So, the cover line “Who’s Macho Now?” might refer to the fact that Bush isn’t so convincingly macho now that the *war* has turned against him. In other words, it’s easy to be macho when you strut around in a codpiece and talk about showing the terrorists who’s boss, but it’s not easy to be macho when everything you set out to do is an unmitigated DISASTER, you’re wildly unpopular, and your party abandons you. I think the illustration has more to do with the polls than the Bush/Blair press conference.
    As for Bush’s admissions of “failures,” what choice does he have but to try something new (like admit he’s a fuck-up)? He has stubbornly refused to do that until now. Meantime, the wingnuts can’t pretend that the polls are even remotely good anymore, and so they are starting to turn on him too.
    Maybe the illustration misfired. Or maybe men read a few “wrinkles” differently than women do. A woman made the “sculpted image,” btw, which I’m assuming is the missile. Bush himself is still standing erect. *He* hasn’t softened, so to speak.

  • marganonymous

    He will never admit he’s a fuckup. The fault is OURS. We misinterpreted his words.
    The missile bears a striking resemblance to an extinguished cigarette. It seems both flaccid and battered, all the while turning on the dub… who wants his mommy…

  • jt from BC

    I didn’t see him admitting failure it was all about linguistics, a renowned part-time English speaker he confirmed as a student, he had been partly left behind. The ‘No Child Left Behind’ missile, is the test. Think I’m joking, check out the test at http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread190931/pg1
    This cover could be about the recent senior drug plan, the war on drugs, gee its fits every internal/external–policy/program of his administration.
    This warrior has demonstrated no performance anxiety to me, only when out of office will PTSD affect him, as researchers investigate whats behind that cod piece in search for clues to his historical legacy.

  • itwasntme

    “I didn’t mislead you — you misfollowed!”
    Another non apology, which I don’t think goes well linked as it is with this illustration.
    The illustration is very good and I think simply states that Bush is now powerless on Iraq issues: he himself states that “it’s up to the generals” when we get out, so presumably they still keep their missles pointed in the right direction.

  • http://solarray.blogspot.com gmoke

    Any person secure in their sexuality doesn’t have to make a big deal about it. A secure woman doesn’t have to flaunt her sex appeal by excess cleavage or tight dresses or provocative hip-swinging. A secure man doesn’t have to wear a codpiece or mistake a missile or a gun for his penis.
    The homosexual panic wafting off the Right is palpable. These guys have to prove they are men over and over and over again because they really aren’t very secure in their manhood, no matter how many “kills” or “conquests” they rack up.

  • readytoblowagasket

    gmoke: If you haven’t read the Francis Wilkinson cover story linked above, it’s an amazing extended metaphor of your second paragraph.

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    “It’s fallen, and I can get it up!”
    Military power as an extention of maculine power. Raw impetus of the warrior (or in this case, would-be johnny-come-lately warrior) to throw himself at the “enemy” or die trying. But of course this image is all the more devastating because flaunted what he never had and now that his pants are around his ankles people are saying “is that it?”
    Poor George, and poor us….

  • http://www.roblanderos.com roberto

    I rewatched Air Force One the other day. The film begins with the president, played by Harrison Ford, delivering a get-tough-on-terrorists, regime change, cowboy speech that could have come right from the pen of David Frum and out of the mouth of Bush. I’m sure it played well in 1997, but with benefit of hindsight of the Iraq debacle, that kind of tough guy foreign policy doesn’t sound so good anymore.

  • Blue Patriot Woman

    Michael, I was hoping you’d analyze this little gem of a picture. As I can’t paste it here and you don’t share your e-mail, here’s a link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/26/142512/143
    If you don’t see a photo just refresh.
    Contrite my ass.

  • ummabdulla

    Blue Patriot Woman, the BAG’s e-mail address is on the right, under “Contact”.
    But I’m glad you posted that link; I had read the quote from Richard Wolffe, but hadn’t seen the picture of Bush, who looks very strange…

  • bluecollarscholar

    He so confuses me!
    How, exactly, does one “misinterpret” something like “wanted dead or alive”?

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