His face glows. He gets a far-off look in his eyes. That's his Bush.
It's like a scene from a John Waters movie. What all does it mean?
The right-wing website Free Republic is infamous for galvanizing harassment campaigns against ideological enemies, but it also has a lighter side: a robust culture of George W. kitsch. "Freepers" display and study the famous photograph of Bush embracing Ashley Faulkner, whose mother perished on Sept. 11, a woeful, iconic look on his face ("The protective encirclement of her head by President Bush's arm and hand is the essence of fatherly compassion," Freeper luvbach1 writes); the ladies exchange snaps of the president in resolute pose, rendering up racy comments about his sexiness; they reference an image of Bush jogging alongside a soldier wounded in Iraq like it's a Xerox of his very soul. "He's the kind of guy who's going to remember to call a soldier who's lost a leg," one citizen of the Free Republic reflects, "and go jogging with him when he gets a replacement prosthetic." Revering Bush has become, for people like this, a defining component of conservative ideology.
Once I interviewed a Freeper who told me he first became a committed conservative after discovering the Federalist Papers. "I absolutely devoured them, recognizing, my God, these things were written hundreds of years ago and they still stand up as some of the most intense political philosophy ever written."
I happen to agree, so I asked him—after he insisted Bush couldn't have been lying when he claimed to have witnessed the first plane hit the World Trade Center live on TV, after he said the orders to torture in Iraq couldn't have possibly come from the top, all because George Bush is too fundamentally decent to lie—what he thinks of the Federalists' most famous message: that the genius of the Constitution they were defending was that you needn't base your faith in the country on the fundamental decency of an individual because no one can be trusted to be fundamentally decent, which was why the Constitution established a government of laws, not personalities.
"If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."
Conservatives see something angelic in George Bush. That's why they excuse, repress and rationalize away so much.
And that is why conservatism is verging on becoming an un-American creed.