Guccifer hacked the Bush family email server and all I got was this stupid painting! Okay, not stupid. Let me backtrack, because this hasn’t exactly been well covered. Earlier this week, The Smoking Gun reported a hacker by the name of Guccifer got into six email accounts of Bush family members and friends.
The information included some things that are quite poignant. The most notable of these involved an “emergency meeting” regarding funeral plans for Bush Sr in December when the family feared he would die. The email sent to the Bush children explicitly stated to not tell their mother. I’m torn about this revelation. On the one hand, no one has a right to know such personal family details. On the other, I’ve never felt so empathetic toward the Bush family.
What caught my eye, however, were images of two Bush Jr self-portraits. Apparently, the younger Bush has taken up painting quite recently. The one that is at the start of this article is rather interesting. I’m not very inspired by the color pallet, but the composition is quite interesting. I really like the surreal use of the shaving mirror. I could really get a rant on about that: the public man who can only show his true self when he is turned away; the little boy still stuck with seeing the world from a small porthole; the disconnected public face of the man he wanted to be.
In fact, I think there is something tragic about the life of George W. Bush. Many of my liberal friends hate it when I say that he wasn’t that bad a Republican President—for the two years he was president. I still think of the first six years as the Cheney years. These were the years when Cheney let Bush “decide” between the 1-3 options Cheney liked. But in those last two years, I got the impression Bush took control—maybe just because Cheney’s work was done. But during those two years, Bush was as good a president as a Republican ever is. And I can’t help but imagine that Bush realizes that his legacy is not only not his, but that it is counter to what he ever wanted.
Many critics are taking a stab at the young Bush’s paintings. Other than Jerry Saltz, everyone tends to agree that Bush is not all that talented. I won’t go along with Saltz; his critique is typical of the masturbatory ravings of an intellectual. But I think it is wrong to be harsh with Bush. Unlike with L. Paul Bremer, Bush isn’t selling his art. We should all applaud people making art for its own sake. (But I won’t be at all surprised if Bush starts selling it. At that point, I will revisit his work!)
In another chapter of "dollar-book Freud" (points for IDing where that phrase comes from), Jacob Weisberg’s "The Bush Tragedy" presents dear W. as a simpering wuss desperately trying to hold up the (ignoble, but that’s aside) family legacy. Not a valuable read, but has some tidbits like how G.H.W. owned heirloom cuff links he wore when being a WWII pilot, getting shot down and rescued, etc. They got passed along. Apparently W. accidently referred to them as "handcuffs."