Bad Attitudes, a magazine of culture, politics, art, literature, 
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Real Bushmen Don’t Cry,
At Least Not for Anybody Else


Jerome Doolittle

America has come a long way since Edmund Muskie was forced from the 1972 presidential race by a forged letter from Nixon’s dirty tricks department that got him so mad he cried during the New Hampshire primary. Or maybe he just choked up, or his voice broke, or something. Anyway, it was in public and it just didn’t look, well, manly.

Since then, though, television news has turned us into such a nation of whiners and weepers that now it’s perfectly okay if a fellow wears his feelings mushy side out. Governor Jeb Bush did it the other day during a war-on-drugs speech in Tallahassee.

The Miami Herald reported, “‘I want to thank you on behalf of my wife for your prayers and for your quiet counseling in the last few months about our daughter Noelle,’ he said, his voice trailing off and shaking with emotion.

“‘Bush men always cry,’ he said, perhaps alluding to his brother’s teary tribute in March to the families of two Florida Army Rangers killed in Afghanistan. ‘I apologize. It’s some genetic problem I got from my dad, I think.’”

The Orlando Sentinel’s  man remembered the quote a little differently, reporting, “‘It’s a genetic problem I got from my dad. He cries a lot.’

“Bush’s father, President George Bush, wept on a visit to Hungary after being handed a piece of barbed wire that symbolized the Iron Curtain coming down. He recalled in a 1997 interview that ‘I cry too easily. I did then and I do now.’”

So there you have it. The Bush men have no trouble getting in touch with their inner Mr. Softee, and this is not a bad thing. It is a very, very good thing.

We would not want them bawling all over the place, would we? Of course not. The Bush men are arms merchants and ball club owners and oil men and CIA directors and governors and presidents and stuff like that. Most of the time we want them to be strong, like our own dear daddy. And they are!

For example, take when George W. Bush had to execute a murderer who was a reformed drug addict and born-again Christian just like he was. Her name was Carla Fay Tucker, and Pope John Paul II and Pat Robertson and all sorts of other bleeding-heart pinkos thought he should spare her. But he was governor of Texas, dang it, and right was right.

Did he blub all over the place when he did his duty? I should say not. Time magazine reported, “Although he was anguished by the decision, in an interview with Talk magazine, writer Tucker Carlson described Bush mimicking the woman’s final plea for her life. ‘Please,’ Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, ‘Don’t kill me.’”

He did, though. He killed another 151 death row inmates, too, which is more than our real daddy ever did. Let’s hope.

But not more than his  real daddy ever did. Remember the Highway of Death in Kuwait? And Remember the U.S.S. Vincennes? Don’t remember that one? The Iranians do.

On July 3 of 1988, Iran Air’s Flight 655, on a regularly scheduled flight from Bandar Abbas to Dubai, was shot down over the Persian Gulf by trigger-happy gunners on the Vincennes. The 290 people aboard died.

Did President George Herbert Walker Bush cry? Certainly not. “I will never apologize for the United States of America,” he said. “I don’t care what the facts are.”

So Lieutenant Commander Scott Lustig, anti-air warfare officer of the Vincennes, was awarded two Navy commendation medals for his service on the cruiser. And its commander, Captain Will C. Rogers III, got the Legion of Merit for “exceptionally meritorious conduct during the period of his command.”

Facts being what they are, however, the United States was obliged by the courts to pay $300,000 for each wage earner killed by the meritorious captain, and $150,000 for each non-wage-earner (this included the 57 children aboard). And the Iranians got another $40 million dollars from the U.S. taxpayer for loss of their plane.

This leaves Governor Jeb Bush, who lost it so notably when talking about his drug-addicted daughter before the drug professionals in Tallahassee. It’s plain that he has inherited those squishy New Testament Bush genes, but how about those stern Old Testament ones?

Turns out the governor is okay on that, too. In that same speech, the Miami Herald reports, “he derided the ‘clowns’ who were until recently pushing a constitutional amendment that would have let certain first-and-second-time drug offenders avoid jail and go to treatment.”

He seems to have gotten through this part of his speech without a quaver, a sob, a catch in his voice, or even so much as a hint of the embarrassment you or I might feel if everyone in the room knew our own daughter had somehow managed to avoid jail and go to treatment.

May, 2002


Copyright © 2004 by Jerome Doolittle