Mind the gaffe
Comedy meets criticism as author Mark Crispin Miller explores how our quasi-elected president turned from harmless-seeming bumbler to dangerously ignorant war-monger in the one-man show "Bush Are 'Us.' "
By JOSHUA TANZER
In the 1972 presidential election, the lying, cheating, power-crazed, war-mongering candidate of the day distributed buttons with the slogan "Nixon. Now more than ever."
It's a slogan that would fit the current president. Whatever one might have suspected of George Bush when he took office is now proving true, more than we ever imagined at the time.
In 2001, NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller wrote a cautionary little book called "The Bush Dyslexicon" (see the official site and our review), claiming that the quasi-elected president's verbal incompetence was not just laughable it was a window into his dangerously inadequate mind. It was a warning sign of the new administration's potential for dishonesty and abuse of power. George Bush was, in his own phrase, not to be "misunderestimated."|
Now more than ever, Miller is trying to spread the word about President Bush, but one of the things that changed after Sept. 11 is that major bookstores suddenly shied away from holding events for his bestselling book. "People were afraid it was unpatriotic," he says. "I just couldn't promote the book, even though it was selling. It's a very strange thing."
So his latest adventure in combined bookselling and rabble-rousing is to take his act to the stage. He's tried the one-man show "Bush Are 'Us' " out five times for invited guests, and there's been enough interest to take it public. Miller will take the stage at Cherry Lane Theater Sunday (March 30, 2003) at 8, and plans more of these performances in the future.
Miller has an exceptional ability to analyze the messages in the media and explain his insights with clarity and vision. Add to that a dose of humor and you have the new show.
| ||Mark Crispin Miller|
"It's a combination of standup comedy and independent news service," he explains. "It's an opportunity to get together with people who feel like they too have been psychotic. Everyone who comes to see me feels like they've gone crazy they don't recognize the country they grew up in."
Audience members sometimes join in the discussion, though there have thus far been no hecklers. Not that Miller would shrink from a debate, but, he notes, "I don't think somebody like that is inclined to spend 20 bucks to come and be annoyed. But it will happen eventually."
With the country embroiled in war a war launched, over the opposition of almost everybody outside our national borders, for only one reason, the determination of a small cabal in Washington to have it this is an increasingly appropriate time to examine those people's state of mind. I don't know what Miller plans to say on stage, exactly, but examples of official mendacity are everywhere.
Colin Powell holds up an vial of plain white powder to the cameras to make people think it's proof of biological weapons in Iraq. Dick Cheney claims the Iraqis won't even fight. George Bush's list of alleged allies shrinks as fast as countries can issue denials. Documents are forged, bogus terrorist connections are made, and intelligence reports prove false. One of the most interesting stories of the war so far has been this one in the Guardian newspaper noting that the BBC can't trust statements from the U.S. and British military anymore because they don't check out.
The president's boneheaded rhetoric is, as Miller suggested in his book two years ago, no longer a laughing matter. The combination of ignorance, lying, false images, and diplomatic incompetence coming from Washington demands to be exposed and opposed, now more than ever. Perhaps this gathering is one of the places where that can start.
|MARCH 30, 2003|
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