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Bush Ditches His Ranch for Ritzier Digs in Dallas

From cowboy to cowed boy, W. crawls outta Crawford for yet another image re-do.

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If portraying George as a cherished Western archetype made the media's story-telling job easier, it also made any reporting that pierced the hype just seem off, if not also wrong and school-marmish. Geomythologies can work anywhere. The awful reality of Sarah Palin was, and still is, buffered by the very snow of kute'n'kooky Alaska. Which is one reason the media slathered over Sarah: A gal who can skin and dress a moose is the true heir of Bush's faux frontier spirit.

As for creating a post-presidency image, Rove, Hughes, and gang are hard at work on the "Bush legacy project," setting up mealy "exit interviews" on network TV and issuing talking points for officials to mouth when they discuss Bush in public. Most laughably, they claim he has upheld "the honor and the dignity of his office," code among the morally shortsighted for not having sex in the Oval Office--as if there is no dishonor in lying a country into war, nor any indignity in torturing helpless captives.

Some of those exit interviews, however, do reveal the new, probably unintentional Bush persona that is shaping up: not cowboy but cowed boy. He's the pleasantly henpecked, suburban house-husband, bumpin' around the kitchen, getting underfoot, submitting to Laura's will, as she drags him by the spurs from the ranch back to civilization.

"She's got this great, idyllic vision of me kind of with a little apron on that says 'Barney's Dad' on it, flipping burgers," Bush told NBC news. At times he looks ashen, as if she was holding him together, almost as if she realizes that he's a fragile husk. The buzz is that she could sell her memoir for millions, but he might not even be able to "replenish the old coffers" with speaking fees, once upon a time his idea of a gold-plated presidential 401k.

The move from the ranch, which Laura never much liked anyway, and George's creeping dependency on her, have been underway at least since July. That's when, at a private Houston fundraiser, a cellphone camera caught the reformed alcoholic president explained the economic crash by saying, "Wall Street got drunk...and now it's got a hangover." Bush had to shout over the rising laughter as went on to say that the "housing issue"--a reference to the toxic mortgage securities that were destroying the global financial system--wasn't a problem in Houston, whose loyal Republican wealthy were toasting him at the fundraiser, "and evidently not in Dallas, 'cause Laura's over there trying to buy a house today." Horselaughs rip through the room as someone yells out, "What about Crawford?"

"I like Crawford. Unfortunately, after eight years of asking her to sacrifice, I am no longer the decision maker," he said, adding, "I did tell her, 'We've been on government pay now for 14 years, so go slow.'"

On the big wide screen of stereotypes, if a ranch masculates, house-husbandry emasculates. But such weakness could provide Bush with just the patina of innocence, even infantilization, that someone who refuses to ever accept responsiblity needs. It's like his recent admission that he was "unprepared for war"--who can blame him for failures he could not foresee? Those of us who have reviled his administration and longed for the day when justice would take its eye for an eye are supposed to stay our hand now, like Mel Gibson does at the end of "Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome." After Mel finally knocks the orc-metal helmet off the evil MasterBlaster, he's shocked to find it hid an innocent, baby-faced mongoloid.

Do you want to take revenge on Barney's Dad?

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