"Our Putin" and Son: the Bushes Revealed

Click to listen to Chris’s conversation with Russ Baker. (36 minutes, 16 mb mp3)

Russ Baker: “on assignment… but not ours”

A perceptual gap is at the essence of the Bush enterprise. The actuality has tended toward wars for resources and the preservation of class prerogative, all abetted by secrecy, intimidation and the dark arts of both psychological and covert ops. The appearance has been of a genial Poppy and a born-again if bumptious George W. …

What Poppy had done quietly, even furtively, W. often did with the swagger of the entitled prince. The result was a government that in essence was not unlike those of third-world oligarchs — a vehicle for military dominance and bountiful favors for supporters and friends. The ruler would preside unchallenged. Dissonant truths would be suppressed, and the tellers of them banished.

Russ Baker on the lingering Bush mystery, in Family of Secrets, page 466.

Who were those masked men, after all, “41″ and “43″? They were spooks, Russ Baker reports, persuasively enough. They were our version of Vladimir Putin. Men “on assignment,” as he says in conversation, “but not our assignment.” They were political operators in service for generations to the “extractive” industries (oil, gold and other minerals) and the CIA. For all the cute speculations about an Oedipal rift between Poppy and “W,” they were always more like than different. The essential outlines were obvious from afar.

Baker says his main questions came into focus when he was teaching journalism in the former Yugoslavia five years ago, and people kept asking him: who are these Bushes, really? Telescope once again beats microscope for the best take on politics. If our 2000 presidential election had unfolded in Zimbabwe, I note, we would have seen the essentials: son of ex-prez (and ex-spy chief) in dead-heat election takes power on disputed votes from a province run by his brother, and on a “supreme court” ruling by judges his daddy appointed. We’d have recognized the game, and we’d not have called it democracy in action.

So much of the long Bush story flunks the “if it had happened in Zimbabwe…” test. The 2004 “war-time” reelection, for example, without debate on the war, against a weak opponent from the secret brotherhood of Skull-and-Bones. The war on Iraq, more egregiously. As if Zimbabwe, sneak-attacked from the general direction of Zambia, had turned and invaded oil-rich Angola — not for the oil, of course, but to “bring freedom” or “spread democracy”.

George H. W. Bush is the rare ex-president who has not produced a serious memoir or authorized a detailed biography. George W. Bush will likely be another. Through a long, murky career, Russ Baker notes, “Poppy always had perfect cover.” Yet the labels on both father and son were always beyond belief. Really compassionate? Really conservative? Real patricians? Real ranchers? Real Christians? Real Texans? “Real Texans,” as the sainted Mollie Ivins used to say, “don’t use ‘summer’ as a verb.” We can’t say we were outright fooled by the cover stories, but we didn’t have a plausible real one to repair to. It’s too late, of course, but Russ Baker’s earnest inquiry helps fill an abysmal gap.


Comments

55 thoughts on “"Our Putin" and Son: the Bushes Revealed

  1. If he promised a serious memoir or a searching biography or autobiography, I missed it. I think even Sean Hannity knows the kind of book W. will offer us. What if it’s already been written?

  2. O Russ, Russ! Wherefore wert thou Russ in 2000? Better late than never? I doubt it, but since “hope” is the currency of the new age, we’ll have to wait and see. No surprise really about 41 and the CIA, Yale being such a hotbed of CIA recruitment, among more obvious factors… I never put much stock in the Oedipal aspects of Bush’s attack on Iraq; it seemed pure realpolitik, calculated to re-election, the better of course to further other interests. But it was fun to contemplate in terms of, say, The Yearling, with Bush Jr. wailing that Saddam “tried to kill my Paw!” What strikes me most about Bush is his sociopathic combination of self-regard and self-pity: love me for who I present myself to be, pity me for what others present me to be, etc. Your basic monster, in other words. Anyway, great conversation, as usual.

  3. Re Hannity, a friend sends this:

    Ode to Sean Hannity

    by John Cleese

    Aping urbanity

    Oozing with vanity

    Plump as a manatee

    Faking humanity

    Journalistic calamity

    Intellectual inanity

    Fox Noise insanity

    You’re a profanity

    Hannity

  4. I’m with you Chris when you say that you suspected it all along. I’m sure lots of folks did, in fact much of the most scathing information was already known and discussed quite a bit during the 2000 election — such as 41′s CIA links going way back even beyond 1963, there was even a connection made to the bay of pigs debacle that didn’t come up in this conversation but hopefully it’s addressed in the book. I’m not going to go all the way into conspiracyland, but we do know (or at least we SHOULD know) that there have been shadowy powers attempting to subvert the government, especially the White House, for some time. Russ’s point about FDR was very poignant in this context, as the “real power” in Wall Street was seriously considering a violent military takeover early in his presidency (the so-called “business plot,” exposed in 1933). It seems to me that the integration of these power brokers and the clandestine world of the “intelligence” has found a better way to take over, by installing what are essentially puppet regimes in the USA. While we laugh and joke about how dumb the president sounds when he speaks, we lose track of what he’s saying and where it comes from. In a time when the federal government is engaging in “data mining” to track every single minute piece of information about average citizens, it’s appalling to see how very little we are allowed to know about the people in power and their motives. After having a “dumbass” for 8 years, and a “playboy” for 8 years before that, it will be interesting to see if our new “rockstar” has a mandate from the people, or from these shadowy powers.

    Only half joking…but I found an interesting document on wikileaks (which is not accessible right now, probably overwhelmed from the “UN bombshell” documents they posted yesterday), a list of those attending the “Bohemian Grove” gathering. It seems 41 was camping out with Micky Hart! I always knew the Grateful Dead was a clandestine psyop!

  5. Hurley, I enjoyed that. Thank you so much. I would add the word banality in there somewhere.

    One of the most perplexing things for me regarding this administration is the way it handled the absence of WMD in Iraq. I’m not sure if it is a measure of my cynicism or this administration, or both, but I fully expected WMDs to be found after a special ops team engineered propaganda, faux evidence and facilities. A compelling fact: The Bush/Cheney administration felt no actual WMDs needed to exist in order for this “Julius Caesar takes down Gaul” campaign/escapade. It is rather illuminating as too how much arrogance, incompetence, and good ol’ fashion stupidity exists within the current wings of the WH and national security arm, and the lack of backbone within the general public’s willingness to go along with such matters.

    Here’s one for the memory hole, I fully expect more of this kind of white washing to continue into the future, ad nauseum:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/01/bush-portrait.html

    Thanks Mr. Baker (I enjoy Russ and Russell) and Chris. Great conversation.

  6. OCP: That would be “banaliti,” rhyming with, etc… Who knew Cleese was a rapper? You’re correct, of course, not withstanding that blatant attempt to subsidize nuts…Hope you find the time to crack that nut and lay it out. alum and all. Look forward to it; happy to contribute. Best, with a healthy SQUAWK!

  7. More of the same, those with the bucks sure as heck don’t want to give them up. It’s a family affair, and a fascinating piece of American history. Wonderful interview, Chris and Russ!

  8. Another extraordinary, shocking, thought-provoking interview. Keep up the fine work.

    My question is how do we prevent this from happening again?

  9. As we address these challenges – and others we cannot foresee tonight – America must maintain our moral clarity. I have often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere.

    Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This Nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense and to advance the cause of peace.

    While driving home, listening to GWB’s farewell revisionism, the above statements stood out in particular. I’m sure the semantic contents of the bolded text was overlooked by many but given the fact that millions of “innocents” were murdered by the will of GWB and the past administration to advance the ideology of DEMOCRACY it is a testament to the intellectual capacity and character of our 43rd president that fails to appreciate the irony embodied in that sentence and its absolutist declaration. He might believe that it’s O.K. to murder the “guilty” (as when he was governor of Texas) to advance an ideology (the guilty must be punished) or that collateral damage in the pursuit of the same is regrettable (ax dents will happen) but justified.

    Freeing people from oppression and despair is a noble aim but only peacefully by suasion and is “eternally wrong” when accomplished by violent means. Always willing to act in their defense (it’s ambiguous as to whether he means the defense of truth and justice (the height of hypocrisy in his case) or the oppressed and despairing (hopefully by diplomacy) and advancing the cause of peace by less than peaceful means is an oxymoron (he is sort of ox like except unneutered till tomorrow.)

    I wager the irony was not lost on PE Obama and shortly after tomorrow President Obama (while less than a pacifist in my estimation) is likely to be introduced to the same interests which held/hold the Bushes fils and pere in thrall. I think he has the character to parry those interests and can find ways to loosen their grip on the rest of Washington.

    Peace to ALL and especially the 44th POTUS,

    Jazzman

  10. What a wonderful conspiracy theory. Still needs black helicopters, but they can be added in the next book

    W isn’t mediocre, he’s brilliantly devious. And his looking like a dope was just his cover. And I bet the Clinton’s really did have Vince Foster killed.

    I suppose it’s possible that this convoluted tale is at least partially true and it’s not just a way to sell some books, or throw red meat to people who truly hate the Bushs. But Chris, can’t you be a bit more skeptical during these interviews?

    BTW, I didn’t vote for W. I thought he had only average intelligence and the wrong policies.

  11. He did not take us to war as a last resort. That he took us as part of an entirely self-serving plan, and that he dragged this country to a low point has also to be blamed on those many many who played supporting roles, including the Republican Party and half of the electorate.

    They can’t help what kind of people they are, these Bushes, but we had the means that could have prevented at least GWB’s plans. Blame Democrats too. GWB’s “smarts” were evil, taking advantage of the 9/11 opportunity. The way Baker tells it – we are talking about a family of whatever the word is for the opposite of patriot( true traitors). We applauded that awesome helicopter flying the Bushes away on inauguration day, “poppy” and that nasty woman of his included. They will march forward completely deaf to, untouched by, all these kind of assessments and revelations. In fact we may even see the emergence of Jeb Bush. Lord help us.

    If Obama does not fulfill a fraction of our expectations at the very least he stands as an enormous contrast to what we have had. We are so relieved and have hardly gotten used to the fact that we don’t need to have our finger on the mute button ( our last resort in self defense) for the portions of the nightly news that featured Bush.

    Sorry for going on- I really came here to say how wonderful to hear Dan Rather’s name mentioned more than once and in the proper context.

    Thanks again.

  12. “If he promised a serious memoir or a searching biography or autobiography, I missed it. I think even Sean Hannity knows the kind of book W. will offer us. ”

    You’re Welcome America

    Anger Class

  13. Well, it should be interesting if Bush does wind up writing some kind of autobiography. After all we have been through with his presidency, he’s going to need a real whopper of a book to salvage whatever is left of his legacy.

  14. “One of the most perplexing things for me regarding this administration is the way it handled the absence of WMD in Iraq. I’m not sure if it is a measure of my cynicism or this administration, or both, but I fully expected WMDs to be found after a special ops team engineered propaganda, faux evidence and facilities. A compelling fact: The Bush/Cheney administration felt no actual WMDs needed to exist in order for this “Julius Caesar takes down Gaul” campaign/escapade. It is rather illuminating as too how much arrogance, incompetence, and good ol’ fashion stupidity exists within the current wings of the WH and national security arm, and the lack of backbone within the general public’s willingness to go along with such matters.”

    Well put

  15. More of the same, those with the bucks sure as heck don’t want to give them up. It’s a family affair, and a fascinating piece of American history. Wonderful interview, Chris and Russ!

    Resveratrol

  16. One of the most perplexing things for me regarding this administration is the way it handled the absence of WMD in Iraq. I’m not sure if it is a measure of my cynicism or this administration, or both, but I fully expected WMDs to be found after a special ops team engineered propaganda, faux evidence and facilities. A compelling fact: The Bush/Cheney administration felt no actual WMDs needed to exist in order for this “Julius Caesar takes down Gaul” campaign/escapade. It is rather illuminating as too how much arrogance, incompetence, and good ol’ fashion stupidity exists within the current wings of the WH and national security arm, and the lack of backbone within the general public’s willingness to go along with such matters.

  17. I can’t wait for George Bush book as well. I agree, I think there probably were weapons in Iraq at some point. Either very well hidden moved to Iran.

    Iran for sure has weapons of this sort and over the coming years will become a super power because of the minerals they have.

  18. Is this some part of George W. Bush book? : So amazing

    i think this is a great one article so i’m waiting to see his work more.

    …..THANK YOU for this useful information

  19. I fully expected WMDs to be found after a special ops team engineered propaganda, faux evidence and facilities. A compelling fact: The Bush/Cheney administration felt no actual WMDs needed to exist in order for this “Julius Caesar takes down Gaul” campaign/escapade. It is rather illuminating as too how much arrogance, incompetence, and good ol’ fashion stupidity exists within the current wings of the WH and national security arm, and the lack of backbone within the general public’s willingness to go along with such matters.

  20. A compelling fact: The Bush/Cheney administration felt no actual WMDs needed to exist in order for this “Julius Caesar takes down Gaul” campaign/escapade. It is rather illuminating as too how much arrogance, incompetence, and good ol’ fashion stupidity exists within the current wings of the WH and national security arm, and the lack of backbone within the general public’s willingness to go along with such matters.

  21. It would be very interesting hearing Bush’s biography. And sine Bush has been one of the most influential and famous person, we should get to know him. Above was a great interview. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Do we really know who or what we are electing as president nowadays? It would seem that America’s voters are complacent if they can maintain their current comfort level, or one that they perceive.

    The Bush family is an interesting story, but not so much unlike the Kennedy family and other power brokers over the years. Our country is not so much different than other countries, except we had the freedom to a larger degree to pursue individual adventures in capitalism with the opportunity to fail, or perhaps succeed, if we were savy enough. Where we are headed now is anybody’s guess.

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