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Jewish World Review May 7, 2003/ 5 Iyar, 5763

Mark Steyn

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What counts is what a guy does when he's not talking |
What did you make of Dubya in his Top Gun get-up landing on the USS Lincoln out in the Pacific? Opinion on the Right seems to be divided. Howard Feinman on MSNBC said it was the "strong horse" speech: you'll recall the late Osama, in his farewell video appearance in 2001, said that "when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse". Some, however, thought the stallionesque aspects were excessive: Andrew Sullivan worries that the President appeared "hubristic".

Most of the rest, seeing the Commander-in-Chief climbing out of the cockpit in the north Pacific, are trilling deliriously, as in South Pacific, "I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm In Love With A Wonderful Guy!"

Speaking of horse-like aspects, a significant sub-set of the above group have emailed me photos of the flight-suited jock and drawn attention to the presidential lunchbox, the most prominent political package since Al Gore appeared in tight bluejeans on the cover of Rolling Stone with his thumbs in his belt loops to hoist his gusset tighter. Having spent most of the 42nd presidency discussing the distinguishing characteristics of the executive branch, I think we need to "move on".

Over on the Left, meanwhile, it's business as usual: "Oh, sure, he 'flew the plane'. He flew the easy bits - the straight part in mid-air. Anyone can do that - look at Mohammed Atta. Bush didn't do the tricky tailhook landing, did he? And we're still not winning the hearts and minds in Iraq - did you see that anti-American demo the other day?

"Okay, it was about a tenth of the size of the one in Berkeley, but that just shows you how bad things are going. And don't give me that hung-like-a-stallion stuff. That's just the way they design those army suits, to ease the sexual insecurities of the impotent white American male - see Norman Mailer, at great length. You want a real strong horse? Check out the guy second from the left in the New York City Ballet..."

Meanwhile, a show about a numbskull Prez who thinks he's invading a country called "Iraqistania" looks like being the biggest thing on the West End stage since Cats.

The Madness of George Dubya is really an example of the madness George Dubya causes in his opponents. Let us take it as read that he is not as verbally fluid as his predecessor, who was positively brimming with fluids. On the other hand, few Democrats are, either. Senator Bob Graham was on television last Sunday, repeatedly referring to Sars as "Scars", but no snooty media types made cracks about it.

Speaking as a third-rate hack, I'd say articulacy is greatly overrated. Watching the President fly in, I envied a guy who can control an S-3B Viking. I've been in enough Piper Cubs to figure I'd have a sporting chance if the bad guy shot the pilot and I had to pull the plane out of a tailspin and save me and Pussy Galore.

But if it was an F102 Delta Dagger, like Bush flew in the 1960s, me and Pussy would be in big trouble. If Bush, who got a National Guard deferment for Vietnam, is a draft dodger like Clinton (as the Lefties

charge), he's a dodger of a different order. I shall say no more because I sense a touch of the Rageh Omaars coming on. Like the BBC's squealing schoolgirl giving the full Monica to a Saddamite bureaucrat ("Once you have tasted the waters of the Tigris, you can never forget Baghdad!!!"), I feel the urge to lapse into orgasmic multiple exclamations: Man, you are way cool!!!! That flight was, like, totally awesome!!!!!

The chaps who dismiss Bush as a moron forget that what counts is what a guy does when he's not talking. It's true that he didn't know the name of the leader of Wackistan before he became president. But one advantage of that is that he isn't the prisoner of his past the way, say, Chirac, Schröder and Putin are. Chirac the sleazy deal-maker, Schröder the 1960s anti-American peacenik and Putin the KGB hardman seem incapable of rising above their CVs.

That's the subtext of the Russian president's extraordinary performance with Tony Blair the other day. How would you feel if you were Putin? Your guys kill more people in a single Moscow theatre than Bush's do liberating Baghdad. Bush wraps Iraq up in a month, while you've spent years killing hundreds of thousands and reducing Grozny to rubble and your boys are still coming home in boxes.

I'd say The Madness of Vlad and Jacques would make a good play, but no doubt there's no audience for it. Between now and January 2009, whatever Bush does he'll always be a dummy to the smart set. So the "strong horse" can fly a jet across the Pacific? Big deal. You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him think.

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JWR contributor Mark Steyn is North American Editor of The (London) Spectator and the author, most recently, of "The Face of the Tiger," a new book on the world post-Sept. 11. (Sales help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.

04/30/03: It's named UNSCAM for a very good reason!
04/14/03: Movers and shakers have moved on to the next 'disaster'
03/25/03: Give Saddam credit
03/18/03: 'Eurabia' will have to look after herself
02/27/03: Death wish
02/19/03: The curtain will come down on the peaceniks
02/10/03: Let's quit the UN
02/03/03: Columbia reality-check
01/29/03: Go forth and multiply
01/09/03: America's fake identity crisis
12/31/02: GOP underperforms, but Dems are laughable
11/26/02: A bombing pause --- for 12 months!?
10/30/02: Stop making excuses for Muslim extremists
09/27/02: The more inventively you try to ''explain'' the Islamist psychosis as a rational phenomenon to be accommodated, the more you risk sounding just as nutty as them
08/23/02: Battered Westerner Syndrome inflicted by myopic Muslim defenders
08/09/02: Friends in low places
08/02/02: Armageddon out of here
07/26/02: Enjoy the ''scandal'' while you can, lads
07/16/02: Arafat is toast; Bush knows it --- so why doesn't the rest of the world?
07/10/02: Hey, FBI: So, denial really is a river in Egypt!
06/20/02: A fight to the finish
06/11/02: Rock, royalty a good match
05/31/02: Unless we change our ways ... the world faces a future where things look pretty darn good
05/24/02: Sweet land of liberty: Britain and Europe have free governments, but only in the US are the people truly free
05/14/02: Extreme hypocrisy in the pursuit of 'peace' is ...
05/10/02: The home office of extremism
05/01/02 Slipping down the Eurinal of history: France, the joke is on you
04/23/02 It's time to snap out of Arab fantasy land
04/16/02 Mideast war exposes 'ugly Europeans'
04/09/02 Arafat has begun his countdown to oblivion. Now it's time to crush the Palestinian uprising
03/27/02 The good, the bad and the Gallic shrug
03/20/02 Grand convocation of the weird

© 2002, Mark Steyn