March 12, 2007
Harvard Square Observer

His Momma Done Told Us -
Barbara Bush on Dubya’s “Optical Rectosis”

Ernest Cassara

Shortly after the election of George W. Bush to the presidency, my wife and I were visiting the Reverend David Lockwood, a retired Vicar of the Church of England, and his wife, over the English border from Hereford, on the outskirts of the lovely town of Llowes in Wales. After we had drinks in the garden house and were heading down the slope to the house, David and I straggled after the others. He tentatively said, I suppose for fear that he might offend me, “Ernest, I don’t really like your new president.” I responded, “He is ignorant and stubborn!” David responded, “They often go together, don’t they.”

This conversation came to mind, as I was getting caught up on my reading.  I did not see the original article in Vanity Fair, but, rather saw it quoted in a piece by Dolf Honicker in the 14 February 2007 issue of Liberal Opinion Week, a publication, by the way, which I heartily recommend, for it reprints commentators from across the country.  Honicker wrote, “Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair - a superb magazine if you can get past the fashion ads featuring wormy-looking, zombie-like models - has uncovered Gail Sheehy’s earlier published excerpt of The Accidental Candidate.”

Honicker goes on to quote the article: “When Barbara Bush took her 13-year-old son and his best friend, Doug Hannah, to play golf at her Houston club, George would start cursing if he didn’t tee off well.  His mother would tell him to quit it.  By the third or fourth hole he would be yelling ‘F..K this’ until he had ensured that his mother would send him to the car.

“‘It fit his needs,’ says Hannah.  ‘He couldn’t lose.’

“Once, after his mother banished him from the golf course, she turned to Hannah and declared, ‘That boy is going to have optical rectosis.’"  What did that mean?  “She said, ‘A s...ty outlook on life.’

“Even if he loses, his friends say, he doesn’t lose.  He’ll just change the score, or change the rules, or make the opponent play until he can beat him.

“‘If you were playing basketball and you were playing to 11 and he was down, you went to 15,’ says Hannah, now a Dallas insurance executive. ‘If he wasn’t winning, he would quit.  He would just walk off. . . . It’s what we called Bush Effort.  If I don’t like the game, I take my ball and go home.  Very few people can get away with that.’”

Honicker then writes of Bush’s “empty core” that allows him to ignore advice he doesn’t like, such as that in the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, and that we should have been “forewarned.  Bush had revealed that he listens not to his biological father but to a higher father.”

I thank Honicker for calling our attention to the Gail Sheehy book. 

And, by the way, what is it about publications that they abbreviate nasty words, such as “F..K and “s...ty”?  They expect us to know them.  Are they protecting children, who may accidentally pick up the publication?  If so, I have advice for them.  They should just think back to their school days and ask themselves whether they ever knew these words.


Last week I wrote:

“. . . Ye Olde Observer is going to open this column to its readers from time to time.  It probably makes sense to set a theme each time, so we do not end up with a mélange.

“I have been thinking of late of the amount of carnage in the world.  Each national group believes it must be armed to the teeth to protect itself.  Our own U.S. government spends humongous amounts each year on instruments of slaughter.  Imagine had our country from its beginning taken to heart the words of Thomas Paine that we had the opportunity to begin the world over again; of George Washington that we should not get involved in other nations affairs;  and, also, took John Quincy Adams’s advice not to go seeking dragons to slay.  Imagine, if, instead, the U.S. had devoted itself to good works in the world how different our world would be today.

“Am I addled to think that, maybe!, it is not too late for a new beginning?

“Share your thoughts.  I’ll include in this space all relevant communications on this theme next week, and, perhaps, the week following, depending on the amount of mail I receive.

“To lesson the load of work on our devoted HSC Webmaster, ’twould be best to send your message directly to me at this e-mail address: ecassara@aol.com

Although one of my colleagues on the HSC thought it was a great idea, up until Friday, when I am writing this, I have received no messages.  Mea culpa!  I now realize that I suggested a topic that amounted to biting off more than a person could chew, that it was much too profound, given the amount of time most of us have available in an average week. 

So, this week, I renew the offer.  But, this time, I invite you to write on anything that you would like to share with me and our readers.


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