Manufactured Cult of Personality
Much has been written through the ages, of course, on the predictable ability of man to go tribal and reverently elevate a singular person to godly-like political status: the cult of personality. The ability to generate such a following is a form of charisma; expressed as a psychosis in human behavior it means blindly following whatever the charismatic leader says, no matter the felonies proposed or the utter failures of the past.
Politicians with such innate powers of personality are thought to be rare and are of course highly sought after by their respective political parties. A lot of Democrats still inwardly lament that if only Bill Clinton were still around they would never be in this abysmal spot.
Here in 2006 it can be definitively stated that the Republican party is classically in the grip of cult of personality, for surely they do not revere Bush on empirical results: the trade and budget deficits are horrendous, government grows more massive by the day, Iraq is a flaming horror scream of failure, law and order Republicans are being indicted with felonies left and right.
The creepy, frightening new observation for political scientists, sociologists, and psychiatrists is that the Bush cult of personality phenomena is a manufactured event, for it can also be empirically confirmed that Bush has no charisma either.
Bush is certainly not exceptionally intelligent. He has no record of past accomplishment. He’s short. He never appears in “spontaneous” public events of cheering crowds, shaking hands and creating great quotes, he always invokes fear and excuses for crimes, and he’s a clumsy, foolish liar. He never got Osama and every cherished principle of the historical Republican party (honesty, conservation, prudence, limited government, caution, fiscal discipline, careful future investment) has been squatted upon with 100% regularity.
Even the night Bush was inaugurated in 2005, the alleged pinnacle of his triumph, he scorned the adoring faithful at almost all the balls and parties, going to bed at ten o’clock. A charismatic politician would never, ever do something like that.
An obviously captured corporate media that covers and enables Bush, a uniquely traumatizing event like 9/11 and a viciously mean, underdeveloped President (willing to exploit 9/11 with a lying war of choice) are good parts of the answer as to how the manufactured cult of personality currently fills our days with sunshine and harmony.
Theft of election 2000 should never be ignored in how this horror show came about; Republicans being acidly and repeatedly claimed as traitors to Democracy made them extremely defensive, naturally. A part of the denial of Election 2000 is the reflexive elevation of Bush, no matter how absurd the scenario, just to demonstrate that no matter what really happened when the Supreme Court created the junta everything worked out fine.
But not even an American political psychosis can stop the behavior of presidential retirement after eight years. In three years Bush is gone, period. Atrios has had some fascinating posts lately about what happens when the manufactured cult of personality hits that brick wall of oblivion; is it possible, somehow, to keep the phenomena going in a seamless transition to a new personality? Some kind of awful family affiliation transition smacking of monarchy to Jeb?
Impossible—fresh and new are two indelible characteristics irrevocably hardwired into the American consumer-obsessed populace, as Hillary is about to find out. The manufactured cult of personality for George Bush is a unique event in the American experience that the Republic will recover from, just like it always has from past abuses and failures.
That could be characterized as an unrealistically optimistic scenario, and yet the past 225 years of American history precisely follows that pattern of behavior: recovery and progression. Not on anyone’s idea of decent timing or full implementation, Lord no, but if there is one overriding judgment to arrive at from American history it’s one of an amazing resiliency.
We’ve overcome far worse than this pipsqueak Bush, and soon we will in fact do that and start to build a future for our children again with a Democratic win of Congress in 2006. It’s not some sunny feel-good projection by a hopeful liberal on the Sabbath, that’s what the history of the country demonstrates over 225 years of human growth.