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Another Fake ‘Man of the People’

One of the most absurd aspects of American political culture is watching rich and powerful politicians pretend to be just like the common folk they’re trying to appeal to. ThinkProgress catches a perfect example, a Republican Senate candidate in Massachusetts, state Rep. Dan Winslow, talking about how much he hates yacht clubs while winning a straw poll held at a yacht club:

“They gave us three minutes to speak today; three minutes is longer than I ever wanted to spend in a yacht club,” Winslow said. “I am not a tea and crumpets Republican. I am here because there are activists here. I am running a grassroots campaign.”

This bit of aw shucks, I’m just a regular Joe feigning might be a bit more believable if Winslow hadn’t served on the board of directors of a yacht club as recently as 2011. It reminds me of George W. Bush, the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful political families, who was educated at Phillips Exeter and Yale, pretending to be a shit-kicking Texas cowboy. As Bill Maher pointed out long ago, he was basically wearing a costume. It would have been no less absurd if he had pretended to be a pirate.

Comments

  1. says

    Actually, it would have been less absurd if Bush had pretended to be a pirate, since it would have more accurately reflected the net results of his administration on the public purse.

  2. says

    Bush also masqueraded as a Navy pilot.

    What, you think the guy who protected south Texas from the Viet Cong using land-based F-102s before going AWOL on a coke binge learned how to successfully land an S-3 on a carrier deck? The WH had to quietly walk back implications that C-Plus Augustus had been at the controls, despite his name being painted on the jet for the duration of the performance.

    That whole display was a world of disgusting in itself, amid the atrocity that was the Iraq War.

  3. Greg says

    auditorydamage,

    As an Air Force veteran, it pains me to tell you that Dubya was in the Air Force, not the Navy. He trained in the F-102 as a member of the Texas Air National Guard.

  4. Larry says

    That whole display was a world of disgusting in itself, amid the atrocity that was the Iraq War.

    Ah, yes. The old “Mission Accomplished” theatrics where, once the war turned to shit and more Americans started coming home in boxes, the bushies claimed it was the Navy’s idea to put up the banner instead of it being yet another prop insisted upon by the CinC managers. Not to mention the staging of the whole thing a couple miles off the coast of San Diego but making it appear to be on the high seas.

    My disgust with that POS and his people hasn’t abated one bit in all the years since that debacle.

  5. cswella says

    I would have felt slightly better about the attitude going to war if Bush had announced/given his reasons in pirate speak.

    “Yarr, there’s booty in them iraqi palaces! I gots a treasure map to prove it!”

  6. daved says

    Bush also attended Harvard (specifically, Harvard Business School). Not exactly a good ol’ boy institution either (and I don’t care if Tommy Lee Jones was an undergraduate there).

  7. caseloweraz says

    Matty1 wrote: “Maybe [Dubya] gets seasick really easily or has a phobia of masts.”

    Hmmm… could explain why he was so eager to find those weapons of mast destruction.

  8. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    This bit of aw shucks, I’m just a regular Joe feigning might be a bit more believable if Winslow hadn’t served on the board of directors of a yacht club as recently as 2011. It reminds me of George W. Bush, the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful political families, who was educated at Phillips Exeter and Yale, pretending to be a shit-kicking Texas cowboy. As Bill Maher pointed out long ago, he was basically wearing a costume. It would have been no less absurd if he had pretended to be a pirate.

    The authoritative biography on Ronald Reagan is titled, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, written by Lou Cannon. And while President Reagan used a lot of what he learned as an actor once he became a politician, he was never something he was not. So as much as I loved this book, and how the title resonates, it was not an accurate description of Mr. Reagan. Instead his Hollywood years mostly had him delivering mythical narratives that resonated with far too many Americans. But acting the part, no, he was authentic in his own skin as enigmatic as that skin was.

    Instead I think the greatest actor-president was George W. Bush for the reasons Ed gives here. And yet even in Mr. Bush’s case, the role he took on eventually consumed what he was prior to becoming president. I think because he was so intellectually lazy where his acting job required far less energy than being the type of man his family groomed. Bush learned how to exploit mediocrity into a winning political strategy. Where current and future generations will be paying the price, I predict for centuries given his leadership in solidifying the GOP into reality deniers and the ramifications of that when it comes to geo-politics, global economics, and climate change.

    I also see Mr. Bush as a pivotal character in terms of Republican leaders pandering to their voting base. Thomas Franks’ most-excellent observations in What’s the Matter with Kansas [2004] reveals how some plutocrats leveraged social conservative issues as a way to attract populists to the party and get them to vote for distinctly non-populist economic and regulatory policies. Mr. Bush is a pivotal character because his resume reads like a classic example of the types of politicians who were backed by plutocratic Republicans that Franks describes. However Bush was actually more like the populists in terms of his personality and critical thinking skills when politics and religion were involved (a near total lack of). He led the way into turning the politicians who served the plutocracy coming from the populist movement itself, a phenomena best observed in the U.S. House over the past three elections.

  9. Michael Heath says

    auditorydamage writes:

    What, you think the guy who protected south Texas from the Viet Cong using land-based F-102s before going AWOL on a coke binge learned how to successfully land an S-3 on a carrier deck?

    Citation requested on the cocaine claim. To some of us here, truth matters even when we’re discussing our political opponents or people we find morally repugnant; as I do Mr. Bush.

  10. modeller says

    > As Bill Maher pointed out long ago, he was basically wearing a costume. It would have been no less absurd if he had pretended to be a pirate.

    Or like Romney (who?) “browning up” for the latino vote. Can’t make this stuff up.

  11. Rick Pikul says

    @Greg: I think he was referring to GWB supposedly landing on a carrier while he was POTUS, not his actual time in the military.

    However even had he really landed that S-3, he wouldn’t have been doing a very convincing job of looking like a Navy pilot, (being in an aircraft and all).

  12. birgerjohansson says

    There is an anecdote that Ronald Reagan once -while meeting an Israeli leader- claimed to have been on s ite when the U S Army liberated a concentration camp. In reality ronnie stayed in USA doing propaganda fims for the military.

  13. matty1 says

    @17 The version I heard had Reagan repeating the plot of a WWII film he’s been in as if it had actually happened .

  14. Michael Heath says

    birgerjohansson writes:

    There is an anecdote that Ronald Reagan once -while meeting an Israeli leader- claimed to have been on s ite when the U S Army liberated a concentration camp. In reality ronnie stayed in USA doing propaganda fims for the military.

    It’s a failure of integrity to spread defamatory rumors for which there is no evidence. Just because Mr. Reagan belongs to an opposing political tribe is not justification to defame him. In fact it weakens the moral authority and integrity of the group others perceive that you represent; even if your opponents display the same bad behavior.

  15. slc1 says

    Re matty1 @ #18

    I think that matty1 is correct. This was commented upon back when Ronnie the rat was president as an example of his inability to separate fact from fiction.

  16. slc1 says

    Apropos Dubya’s service in the Texas Air National Guard, it should be noted that he jumped the queue to get in using his father’s influence; it is my understanding that there were some 130 men ahead of him.

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