William Rivers Pitt | What I Think of George W. Bush

(Photo: Muddy Waste via Shutterstock)(Photo: Muddy Waste via Shutterstock)

I think of mud, but that doesn’t work, because mud is just wet soil, and wet soil is fertile. Good things grow in mud, and so I apologize to mud for making the comparison, even though it was only in my head a scant moment.

I think of oil, of scum, viscous and stinking like a fetid scrim across a Northeastern pond that has literally been shat to death by geese who stay the year round because the idiots who live beside what once was bucolic splendor feed those geese throughout the winters, and so the geese never fly south in their iconic wedge formation, but instead stay, and eat balls of begged Wonder Bread, and defecate into blue goodness until it becomes a green and murky gloom.

I think of rot. Of deep odor. Of a smell so overwhelming it becomes a sound in itself, a buzzing, a roar, a perfect maelstrom of helpless vomit and swimming eyes, of shaking hands and splintered nerves, of sightless pupils staring up from the gyre of shredded bodies birthed by war, of viscera lying in the dust of the road beneath the pitiless sun next to the shrieking orphan, the howling widow, the fatherless boy who in his wrath collects the dropped rifle and holds it tight to his narrow chest in a perfect pledge of vengeance.

I think of mud, and scum, and rot, and death, of the deep wheel of rage and revenge that has been unleashed even as it turns, I think of the futility before it, and the greed behind, I think of malice aforethought, of punishments so richly deserved but as yet unlevied … and in doing so, I think of George W. Bush.

I think of almost 5,000 men and women who came home under the cover of his darkness as afterthoughts beneath folded American flags.

I think of the tens of thousands more missing arms, legs, touch, taste, sight, skin, cognizance.

I think of the sickening smack when the metal meets the meat, I think of aftermath, the wives, the husbands, the parents, the children, the lives upended, the horrors of the dark and the bleak pathos of the daylight. I think of how “Please take a number” is now the thanks they get, a message delivered by the long ton to those who served, and gave, and now must wait … and wait … and wait for even the most meager crumbs of solace.

I think of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX gas, mobile biological weapons labs, and uranium from Niger for use in a “robust” nuclear weapons programs. I think of those lies, and all the other lies besides.

I think of mushroom clouds as “evidence.” I think of plastic sheeting and duct tape. I think of “Run on the war.” I think of the sound of bodies hitting the ground from a long plunge of 86 floors up, and all those who ran in when others ran out, because someone was more interested in clearing brush and playing golf than in paying attention to the late-August Presidential Daily Briefing which said in no uncertain terms that something was about to happen.

I think of the millions who have died or been “displaced” in Iraq – one of our kind modern euphemisms. It used to be “shell shock,” but now it’s “post-traumatic stress disorder.” Much more tidy, yes?

Such a marvelous tool is language.

When Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership eats your job, you’re not “laid off” or “fired” or even “screwed.” You are “trade adjusted.” So it is in George W. Bush’s Iraq: You’re not bombed screaming in horror out of your home with nowhere to run and a child in your arms bleeding from a gash caused by our shrapnel.

You’ve simply been “displaced.”

I think of the treasure – that’s what the Smart Ones on the TV call it whenever I misplace the remote on a Sunday morning and am forced to listen, “blood and treasure” they say – but treasure is something pirates find in children’s stories. The blood-sodden trillions George W. Bush poured into the coffers of his friends, and his friends’ friends by way of the still-ongoing Iraq war, wasn’t “treasure.” It was your money, stolen in broad daylight with a smirk and a flag and a “Watch what you say.” It was your future stolen from you, from me, from your children, and from mine.

I think that future has been broken most deliberately. I think a few people stole enormous amounts of money, and continue to do so, thanks to that breaking.

I also think this.

Some days ago, George W. Bush had the towering gall to speak at a benefit for wounded veterans for a fee of $100,000 … plus $50,000 for his wife a year before, and $20,000 for the private chartered jet to get him there.

I think of the shadow that must exist within the soul of one such as this, one who can so callously unleash such carnage and then make joking videos of that folly, one who breaks the dam on such bloodshed and then cashes checks penned in that dearly spilled ink. I think he was and remains the end of reason, the numb heel of the mailed fist which only halts its smashing when it extends its rust-painted fingers to collect the cash on the barrelhead.

I think he belongs in prison, beside his cohorts, as an example of precisely what not to do, a message to a nation still plowing out the wreckage of his passage.

I think it will be a white and frozen morning on the skating rink of Hell before I see such a thing come to pass, but I think it needs to be said, and said, and said again. “We must rediscover,” said Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich, “the distinction between hope and expectation.” I distinctly hope my expectations see the broad light of justice one day. The bones howling their grim dirge from beneath the cold ground are joined in a bleak chorus of agreement.

At the bitter end of things, I think of the Bard, of his soldier Williams in Henry V: “But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry all, ‘We died at such a place.'”

I think.