OPINION

Backstage with Bush

Before President Bush started delivering his proclamation of war to the people of the USA, we had the opportunity to enjoy the following unbelievable scene: the president, already seated in his chair, in front of a microphone, in the White House, is getting preened prior to his appearance on television. The makeup lady carefully combs him, but suddenly notices a rogue hair and tries to flatten it gently with her palm. Then she brushes her hands gently over the president’s shoulders – half dusting him off, half stroking him. The president has relinquished himself to his assistant’s attention, staring straight ahead – as if at a mirror. Once or twice he appears to change the look in his eyes or the set of his mouth – to ensure his expression is appropriate for the historic moment to come. And meanwhile the whole world has been watching this silent performance – a kind of presidential pantomime – holding its breath in anticipation of the imminent declaration of war; the whole world, that is, except for the USA, where the program appeared to be suspended once the TV channels realized their mistake. A psychoanalyst would doubtless draw many conclusions from these scenes of presidential aloofness. Indeed, Bush seemed like an actor backstage in his dressing room, donning his mask and costume. And the US president did not betray even a hint of concern during the tragedy of those moments that the rest of mankind was experiencing.