So, in a historic moment almost four decades ago, a desperate president suddenly found it strategically advisable to present himself to his enemies as a potential nation slaughterer, a world incinerator (and his aides were privately ready to think of him as such); the leader of what was then commonly termed "the Free World," that is, was considering revealing himself as a mad emperor, a veritable Ming the Merciless.
Skip ahead these several decades and, presidentially, things have only gotten stranger. After all, we now have a president who has openly, even eagerly, faced the world as the Commander-in-Chief of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, Extraordinary Rendition, and Offshore Imprisonment; a Vice President who appeared openly on Capitol Hill to lobby against a bill banning torture; and key cabinet members who, from a White House conference room, micromanaged torture, down to specific techniques in specific cases. Talk about Ming the Merciless.
In all this, you can sense a man in his own bubble world, engrossed in, and satisfied with, his own performance - both as actor and, as in childhood, audience. What Gen. Ricardo Sanchez has added to this is the picture of a man who, even in 2004, was already dreaming Vietnam disaster ("This Vietnam stuff... We can't send that message."); who, perhaps sensing that his blockbuster was busting, like Richard Nixon before him, proved willing to mix the white-hat and black-hat codes of his movie childhood in remarkable ways. Under the strain of a failing war, in private and among his top officials, he didn't hesitate to take on that "guru" role and rally his closest followers with a call to kill, kill, kill!
A confused pep talk indeed. Even if Bush is still exhorting his top officials not to "blink," Americans should. After all, there are almost eight months left to his presidency, and a man of such stunning immaturity, who confuses fantasy with real life, and is given to outbursts of challenge, bluster, and bloodlust should be taken seriously. Nixon's "mad mullah" stayed private until transcripts of the Watergate tapes and memoirs started coming out. For us, the question remains, will this President be able to take a final turn on-screen before his term ends, playing the "mad mullah" in relation to Iran?
Bush is like a spiteful little kid who never learned what "no" means who'll break a toy so no one else can play with it. The only reality that matters is his twisted image of himself and fuck everybody else.