Monday, December 20, 2004

In The New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller points out something I've been noticing -- that Bush is really making a habit of choosing rags-to-riches nominees. In this year's round of Cabinet picks we have Alberto Gonzales ("the son of Mexican migrant farm workers who never finished grade school"), Jim Nicholson ("grew up in a house without plumbing on a tenant farm in Iowa and sometimes went to bed hungry"), Carlos Gutierrez ("learned English from a bellhop in a Miami hotel and got his start as a truck driver delivering Frosted Flakes in Mexico City"), Mike Johanns ("grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa"), Condi Rice ("grew up in segregated Birmingham, Ala., and was friends with one of the girls killed in the church bombing there in 1963") ... and, of course, Bernie Kerik ("a high school dropout and the son of a prostitute who may have been murdered by her pimp").

Is this noblesse oblige? That would be understandable -- but we're told it's something else:

... Mr. Bush seems to identify with the hardscrabble stories, as difficult as that may be to believe about a man who was born into one of the most privileged families in the United States....

Stanley A. Renshon, a psychoanalyst and political scientist at the City University of New York, argues ... that Mr. Bush, who said last spring that he had to "knock on a lot of doors to follow the old man's footsteps," truly believes that he had to overcome hurdles on his way to the White House.

"He was born into a family where there were enormous expectations for the kids, and he literally spent a lifetime not measuring up," said Mr. Renshon, whose recent book, "In his Father's Shadow: The Transformations of George W. Bush," is a psychological study of the president.

"In Bush's case," Mr. Renshon added, "he follows in his father's footsteps, he doesn't make it for decades, but he keeps on plugging, and he succeeds. But I think it was very complex for him because he often didn't know where his parents' and family help ended and his own contribution picked up. He had to carve out his own sphere in a very big shadow."

Can you believe that? Can you believe Bush picks people who came from nowhere because he thinks they're like him? Bush spent years trying to figure out how to turn the least possible effort into success; could he really equate his own "struggle" with pulling yourself up by the bootstraps?

Yeah, I think so.

No comments: