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Bush at the jamboree: Please tell me it was all just a bad dream
Date published: 8/5/2005
Editor's note: The following column is an Opinion column published in the Editorial pages of The Free Lance-Star.
SOMEBODY PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one who saw the coverage of the Boy Scout Jamboree arena show Sunday night and thought: Yikes, that’s a bit too much like some of the scary weirdness that torments me in my sleep.
I mean, isn’t there something nightmarish about our misleader swooping down on a steaming pit of sweat and testosterone and whipping a throng of brown-shirted youths into a nationalistic frenzy?
And what’s not surreal about the author of an unnecessary, costly, and wholly counterproductive war claiming that his policies are “laying the foundations of peace for decades to come”?
But President Bush’s appearance at the jamboree was more than just a bad dream. It was one of those grandiose expressions of state power that, at least briefly, transforms a bumbling and dishonest politician into protector of all that is good and true in the fatherland.
Despite the patriotic fervor, there’s actually little about these kinds of events that marks them as distinctly American. Swap out the little American flags for little Cuban flags, and Bush’s visit with the Scouts would have seemed a lot like one of those government-orchestrated rallies in Havana over which Fidel Castro presides (although if el jefe had been speaking Sunday, he’d have gone on for hours and hours, precipitating another rash of heat-related illnesses at the jamboree).
The extravaganza featuring our commander in chief felt especially creepy coming on the heels of a weeklong effort by the military to turn the jamboree into one big recruitment fair.
But I guess it’s fitting that this president would be flown in to wrap up the recruiting blitz. It’s thanks to him that the military is in such desperate need of warm bodies.
And there’s always more democracy-spreading to be done. It’s no secret that some of the ideologues who whisper in the president’s ear subscribe to the notion that “everyone wants to go to Baghdad—real men want to go to Tehran.”