Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Bumiller's Bourgeois Bush

Reporting on President Bush's triumphant visit to Eastern Europe (which is really a triumph engineered originally by Ronald Reagan), the New York Times appears flummoxed. Welcoming Romania and Lithuania, former subjects of Soviet tyranny, into NATO would have been unthinkable as recently as fifteen years ago. Therefore, it is big news, and must be reported. But it is also embarrassing for those who view Reagan and Bush as the Dumb and Dumber of American politics. The reporting of the unsavory events fell to Elisabeth Bumiller, and she didn't disappoint -- not Howell Raines anyway. In a hardly veiled swipe at Bush's supposed intellectual handicap, she argued that Bush feels more comfortable in the smaller countries of Eastern Europe than with the more "intellectual" leaders of France and Germany. What is the proof that Chirac and Shroeder have subtle minds? They are uneasy about capitalism and against American military force. Conversely, if you're unabashedly capitalist and pro-U.S., you must be a moron. So says the New York Times.

According to Bumiller, the Harvard M.B.A. president (who can't pass intellectual muster in the journalist community) feels right at home in countries which are embracing capitalism after decades of planned economies. We learn from her that Bush attended celebrations with C.E.O.'s, handed off a gift-basketball autographed by Michael Jordan, took no time to absorb local art and architecture, ate duck liver and deer filet, and worked out at the ambassador's opulent residence in Prague while at the NATO Summit. This is how the New York Times asseses an historic trip by a U.S. president that affords the journalistic opportunity to recount the astounding events of the last decade beginning with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.


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