Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Maybe Oedipus Had The Right Idea

One of the things that seeing the movie "W" did for me was to bring home the point that anybody, regardless of status, money, education or advantage, can have a fucked-up homelife and asshole parents. Particularly poignant in this scenario is the reiterated theme that, though Dubya (or "Junior" as his parents called him) was first-born son, it was clear that second-born Jeb was always Daddy's favorite.

At every turn, Oliver Stone's film has the younger George trying to get his parents' attention in both positive and negative ways. (Incidentally, and totally off-point, Josh Brolin is brilliant in this part, and deserves an Oscar nomination.) After crashing and burning in every nepotistic endeavor he attempts, George finally finds some success as owner of the Texas Rangers. In an alarming and painful scene, he proudly is ushering Daddy around the brand-new, just completed, state-of-the-art stadium, and is soon devastated by his father's pre-occupation with Jeb's doings and beings. Owning a major league ball club is clearly not prestigious enough for the Bush family.

The scenes where Bush seems most sympathetic are those where he's being addressed by his father, compared to and constantly falling short of Jeb's apparently sterling example. That's why I almost managed a spark of compassion when watching the elder Bush's interview with Chris Wallace, where he made out that his eldest son's presidential mistakes were so prolific he didn't want to enumerate them, telling Wallace to look it up on the Internet, and was easily coaxed into cooing about son Jeb's potential as a national politician, including as a senator or possibly (kill me now!) Bush President #3. (What do they think? Third time's the charm?)

If I had any fragment of empathy for GWB left (and I just might, because, hey, we've met his mother, haven't we), this would be the time it would be ignited. The guy actually took very little in the way of brains and talent and managed to get himself the job of President of the United States---and he's still in his younger brother's long, long shadow.

Jesus, those Bushes are one tough room.


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