Ask Mrs. Vera: Is it possible that Americans have come to think well of George W. Bush?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

A recent poll reveals that for the first time since 2005, more Americans have a favorable view of George W. Bush than an unfavorable view. How is this possible?

Dwight D. Eisenhower, dec’d.

Mrs. Vera, peering.

Mrs. Vera Newman,
San Francisco, California.
Photo: Michael Johnstone

Dear Dirty “I Is In The Shower”,

You are very naughty, indeed, if you think Mrs. Vera will be so easily fooled by such a transparent letter just because I answered a dead man’s question last week. You, sir, are very much alive, which is not a federal offense (unless tried, convicted and escaped from a crimes against humanity war trial), but, even worse, you’re fishing for compliments, which is the rich man’s version of poor people asking how much that lamp from your grandfather is worth, or how much you paid for it, or where can they get one.

One mustn’t be ashamed to ask difficult questions as long as they are asked respectfully and at not inopportune times, George. Because I can hear you chewing on your colored pencils over the mails in furious puzzlement, I’ll tell you right away how I knew this letter was not written by the severed, autonomous hand of our 34th President, or a mischievous Poltergeisenhower, or a girl from the late ’50s White House Steno Pool awaking from a coma with an urgent memo on her fingertips. Although your life has shown you that you can, will and have gotten away with an astounding amount of things, there is one thing you can never get away with when corresponding with someone, and that is proper spelling and punctuation. The word,  “deceased,” is not spelled, in oversized, capital letters of alternating colors, beneath a shiny smiley sun: D-I-S-E-A-S-E-D, then heavily crossed out, written the same way again but with just one line through it, then incorrectly contracted to an illegitimate, abbreviated form of a term, like “dec’d.”

Furthermore, Mr. Eisenhower was well known for his elegant penmanship and avoidance of crayon and mustard in all his communiques and even recipes. Mamie Eisenhower’s handwriting, on the other (good) hand, was so chicken-scratchy the then-alive president had to personally write out her grocery lists and hat sizes for her, or she’d end up coming home with no shopping and oodles of spare change from kind strangers, probably wearing a multicolored beanie with a propeller on it. They couldn’t have that, now, could they? You would have really liked Mamie, George — I’ll bet you both had a lot in common, like knowing all the best hide-and-seek spots in the West Wing, and where they used to keep the liquor.

But, honestly, there’s nothing lovable about a scamp; people only pretend it’s cute in order to avoid offending the wealthy parents of obnoxious, dull children, or they will force themselves to laugh uncomfortably at such impish, shirking shenanigans to better cover-up after-the-fact evidence of their own poor judgment skills, personal culpability or shameful Wicker Mannish guilt in the disasters they leave for others to fix after the lamp or economy no one was supposed to be playing with got broken somehow. They say we can all learn from our mistakes, but the jury is still out about whether the country has learned anything at all from your mistakes, although any increase in your popularity would seem to indicate pretty strongly that we haven’t.

Each time I look back at the history of Presidential elections in the United States through the split personalities I’ve shared over my many lifetimes, it becomes harder to do without taking a pill first, preferably a strongly anti-nauseal one. I am increasingly convinced, and have written for quite a while now, of my theory of The Neoconservative Movement as a poorly explained Progressive one, albeit dressed up all fancy in the Elephant’s New Clothes, such as they are (that’s a lot of pinstripe for so many wrinkles, in my opinion…  I’m just saying.)  It boils down to this: Every election cycle, I am convinced that the Republican Party has selected the most inept, least qualified, unfit and mentally deficient candidate there could possibly be to run as a barely viable candidate, knowing, with crushed exasperation, that surely, the next time, they will be unable to locate a progressively worse individual about whom to suggest it would be a good idea if that person were to hold public office.

Yet time and time again they do just that, and I find I must lower my standards, and language skills, to accommodate the next election’s treasure trove of undelectable unelectables. And, about half the time, these half-wits are half-assedly elected, by about half the people, to about half the available open positions. It seems to me inevitable that, at some point, we will elect, by a narrow margin, a Moustachioed Dustbuster, an Alligator-shaped Bubblebath Bottle, a Googley-Eyed Toilet Brush Holder or a maverick, Pretty Lady Quilted Toaster Cover unafraid to toast from the hip or finish covering Alaska when not in use, whichever is easier, as our next president.

When these candidates are combined with our current choices and prospects for future Republican political leadership found in the coagulating mess accumulating at the top of the pot these days, it should not be seen as surprising that some random Bush, yesterday’s nightmares of doom, would seem more like a dreamy pastel vision of a gentler time in comparison, back when the victim was, say, the poor horse and buggy maker being driven out of business by the new tech, and not the toddler itself being run over by that dang, new-fangled auto-mobile of destiny. People like that toddler are going to have to learn to get out of the way quicker, in the new America of ToasterBabe MacPresident, because next time there won’t be any George W. Bush around to fight for their freedom from Social Security.  Not like in the good old days from a few years ago, when you could invade a country for, apparently, the fun of it, and still see a rise in popularity down the line, in the fullness of time, among any survivors of your foreign policy.

But the real reason, of course, of George W. Bush’s recent rise in popularity isn’t due just to the fact that people are increasingly assured that he is, thankfully, walking away from them, not towards them, like some kind of Bad News Lucy Ricardo with some Uh-Oh Hair-Brained Scheme that’s going to make ViviAmerican Vance’s outfit, or life, get ruined if she listens to it.  On top of that is the simplest of all explanations — He simply refuses to let go of that huge bunch of bright and shiny balloons Barbara just bought him, to shut him up, for even a minute’s rest.


Vera with toys and greensMrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!


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