“Generalissimo El Busho” is my chronicle, in essays and cartoons of the most polarizing presidency in modern American history, a tragicomic week-by-week dissection of the Bush Administration’s follies and crimes.
I’ve traveled to Third World trouble spots,so I recognize a dictator when he see one. Having seized power extraconstitutionally, Bush and his cabal of corrupt businessmen made it obvious from the outset that they intended to rule with ruthless zeal. Unlike many of my fellow journalists, however, I refused to be cowed or water down my rhetoric–even in the wake of 9/11. It’s easy to forget just how radical the Bush Administration was — and how the changes he made continue to have repercussions today.
Ted Rall, a cartoonist and columnist for Universal Press Syndicate, is more hostile to President Bush than most members of Saddam’s inner circle, as this collection of his work from recent years makes scaldingly clear. There’s nothing really humorous here; the satire mixed into Rall’s screeds is far too bitter for that. In a piece from October 2002, he calls the military mission in Afghanistan ”Operation Enduring Failure.” In another 2002 piece, he refers to the Bush administration as a ”circus of hypocrites.” The best part of the volume, though, is its earliest material, centered on the 2000 election. Rall, unlike practically everyone else, allowed the president no honeymoon. He labeled the election stolen early and often. The resolution of the whole mess was far too casual for his taste; there was, he felt, too much at stake. Given all that has happened since, it appears he was right. —The New York Times
Even when the country was rallying around President Bush, syndicated cartoonist and columnist Rall remained in a state of outrage—one he effectively maintains throughout this book, a set of essay-like meditations on a Pinochetesque figure he calls “Generalissimo El Busho.” Each of 60 or so short salvos is typically accompanied by one to three cartoons (at most four to six panels). Bush’s election (“The Seizure of Power”) is followed by a post-9/11 cartoon on the president’s attitudes toward civil liberties violations titled “Martin Niemoller Now”—referring to the priest who said, in part, “When they came for Jews, I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.” A prescient cartoon imagines the prison at Guantánamo as the reality show Gitmo House . A “Canyon of Heroes” cartoon cites a 9/11 victim: “My death helped create the political climate that allowed tax cuts for rich folks during a recession.” Love him or hate him, Rall is never less than provocative. The material is current through March 2004, and much of it still stings. A specialist on Central Asia, Rall actually went to Afghanistan and wrote, “We won the war but we lost the peace. Will we do the same thing in Iraq? Count on it.” —Publishers Weekly
Essays and Cartoons, 2004
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