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Number 21:

Uncle Frank’s Diary
Number Twenty-one

Glory Days:
Boy George as High-School Jerk

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”   George W. Bush, Aug. 5, 2004

Is there a Freudian in the house?

     Any practitioner of the classical psychiatric trade would find a world of revelation in the Weasel-in-Chief’s most egregious slip of the tongue. From a man who has wistfully remarked on the advantages he would enjoy as dictator* of the United States, assurances that he is doing his best to wreck the country are surprising only to the extent that they are so public. What, one wonders, has George W. Bush said in private that, given the light of day, would turn even a few of his loyalists against him?

     George W reminds me vividly of an old high school classmate, whom I’ll call Ron Clark. (If your name is Ron Clark, I’m not speaking of you; I’m talking about someone else.) Ron Clark epitomized the worst of high-school snot-nosery, clubbiness, jock-jerkery, and contempt for those not favored with election to the ruling circle of adolescent rotarianism.

     Ron was a starting guard on the basketball team, a position of such regal and rarified influence that it infected his gait with a perpetual loping swagger, and his lip with a curling expression of condescension toward his inferiors. His inferiors included everyone, particularly males, not a part of the above ruling circle, and many who occupied it.

Rights of the Nobility

     To all appearances, Ron believed that his transient success with a basketball imbued him with certain inalienable rights, chief among them the right to act like a complete baboon’s ass, and to get away with it.

     Ron was a naked cheat. During closed-book exams in our European history class, presided over by a not terribly alert instructor, Ron sat at his desk in the back of the room with his book open in his lap, looking up the answers. Not a student in the room didn’t know that Ron was cheating, but no one said a word to the instructor.

     You don’t rat out the starting guard on the basketball team; not unless you’re eager to make the ordinary misery of high-school life all that much more unpleasant. Ron smirked and mugged and cheated his way through class, confident that no one had the guts to call him on it. As far as I know, no one did. I sure didn’t.

     Ron employed an entourage of not-very bright but well-muscled sycophants who were adept at intimidating anyone Ron found an annoyance. Ron didn’t have to do his own dirty work—except the dirty work that gave him special pleasure. Like aspiring fascists everywhere, Ron found his favorite targets in those with unusual physical characteristics. He considered it the height of good fun to call mocking attention to some classmate’s awkwardness, acne, dumpy clothes, crooked teeth, overweight, large ears, or other distinguishing marks of a superficial and meaningless nature. His taste for torment was unquenchable, and he had a deadly ability to home in on his victim’s most vulnerable point.

A Shared Expression

     I hated the guy. He seldom directly bothered me, but I hated watching him pull his bullying, mean, dishonest, arrogant, smug act, day after day, and—as far as I ever knew—never pay any consequences for it. That smug expression of which George W is a master is the same one that settled on Ron Clark’s face whenever he asserted his nasty notion of superiority in the face of some hapless classmate, left writhing in humiliation before Ron’s appreciative, or at the least, acquiescent, audience.

     I saw Ron Clark in George W. Bush the first time I watched Boy George on television. The difference between the two is that Ron Clark was a passable high-school basketball player. George W. Bush has never been good at anything, except selecting a family in which to be born. True, he operates at a level of sophistication well beyond Ron Clark’s. Instead of a couple of broad-knuckled toughs at his side, he relies on thugs like John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, and Antonin Scalia to carry his message to the people.

     But no matter. The essence of Ron is the essence of W: the condescension, the assumed superiority, the pleasure in pushing people around, the pure contempt for those who do not kowtow to his eminence, or who struggle to survive materially in a world in which he has never known the meaning of real struggle.

Careers Different in Scale, but the Same in Nature

     Ron Clark, I trust, went on to a career of small things: stealing from his employer, perhaps, or cheating his customers, or both; abusing his wife, beating his kids, borrowing money from friends and not repaying it. If he lives yet, he is well into middle age, and no longer a prince of the basketball court. It is unlikely that any audience applauds him, or that any retinue of hangers-on hoping to benefit from his reflected fame is willing to do his dirty work for him. Ron Clark is, I have no doubt, little more than one more pathetic has-been whose glory days ended with his high-school graduation.

     By any measure of justice, that should have been George W’s fate. Instead, this prissy, sanctimonious bully occupies the most powerful office on the planet, and devotes himself, as he says, to thinking of new ways “to harm our country and our people.”

     I never believed anything Ron Clark said, but this is one statement from Boy George that I think I shall take at face value.



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