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WHAT HAPPENED HERE by Eliot Weinberger


Bush Chronicles

by Eliot Weinberger

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 2005
ISBN: 0-8112-1638-1
Publisher: New Directions

Is Mickey Mouse a Bush supporter? No doubt, writes Weinberger, translator, essayist and conspiratorialist par excellence.

Weinberger offers a centrifugal journal, in several takes, of the first Bush term. He warns that he is a literary writer, not a pundit, but this is a book of the moment (and one that might have benefited, in spots, from more literary reflection and less white heat): It may be true of George W. Bush that “like a Chinese emperor, his only source of information was what his ministers told him,” but the fact that the peanut butter sandwich is the president’s favorite food is not sufficient cause for dissent. Most of the time, though, Weinberger’s criticisms are spot-on. Writing that the 2000 election was really a contest to see who could emerge as the superficially nicest fellow, he characterizes the contenders thus: “Gore had the mannerisms of a very nervous kindergarten teacher trying to be patient, while Bush was simply the guy who brings the beer to the party.” That seems about right, as does Weinberger’s lively “Republicans: A Prose Poem,” a longish, smart piece that argues, among other things, that “Mickey Mouse is a Republican,” as evidenced by the vast investment the Florida pension fund, controlled by Jeb Bush, has in Disney stock, to say nothing of Disney’s near sovereign-nation status in Florida, to say nothing of Disney’s attempted suppression of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, to say nothing of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 incitement to Americans to “go down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life.” In its best moments, Weinberger’s little book suggests a surrealist Gore Vidal.

It’s the sort of thing to make Rush Limbaugh scream treason, but for patriots of a certain bent, it’s witty confirmation that something very strange indeed has happened here.