FACE DOWN (DEAD LIKE ELVIS)
The day after the Supreme Court decided that, not only does the Emperor have no clothes – he is not even Emperor, Junior Bush took his tired, empty suit to Graceland. There, in the Hall of Ghosts for a real King, Bush got smaller and smaller, eventually disappearing altogether in the shadow of Presley’s greatness and his own shocking inadequacies.
The event was staged for the benefit of Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi, a true leader and rock-and-roller, who took full advantage of the opportunity to revel in the dusty antiques of the Jungle Room. Touching (gasp!) artifacts and dancing on the sacred shag rug of Elvis, circa 1977, Koizumi looked like he could have led his own band and perhaps held his own in the market of the time, in the record bins somewhere between Kansas and Loggins & Messina. Alphabetically, anyway.
Unfortunately, Bush stayed in the shot and was not, er, excused by the Matrons of Graceland, Priscilla and Lisa Marie. I guess in the House of E, everyone must be received (although I don’t think Bush paid the regular admission price for the tour). While Koizumi reveled in the moment and spun his arms in late-Elvis windmill fashion, Bush and Laura watched uncomfortably, waiting, as they always do, to be led off the grounds to the safely of Air Force One and the next fundraiser. Bush had his "when is this over with?" look on his dorky face.
For his part, Koizumi may still be there, for all we know, playing billiards in the pool room, flipping through over-the-air channels with the clicky remotes in the yellow RCA TV room and, perhaps, spending some quality time with Lisa Marie. Hey, she’s done worse.
Watching our classless, clueless president, I couldn’t help but think how wrong it is for him to be the first president to visit Graceland. Imagine if our first and only true rock-and-roll president, Bill Clinton, had visited his soulmate Elvis’ shrine-and-grave while in office (and, now that I think about it, why didn’t he?).
First of all, he would have fired anyone on his staff who wore Halloween Elvis getups and did not treat the visit with the respect it deserved. "Campy" is for when you go see the original Batmobile at an auto show; not for paying respect to an all-American original who magically blended R&B, country, blues and his own broken heart into rock-and-roll as we (should) know it.
Clinton would have strode into the Jungle Room like he belonged there, sniffing the air, touching the tapestries and the leather of the couches. Maybe he’d bring his sax and blow a little "Love Me Tender" into the rarified air, hearing the notes bounce off the walls like a late-night jam session with El and Scottie (Moore, Elvis’ guitar player). Clinton would have brought knowledge and respect to the visit that Bush couldn’t manage even if he cared.
Of course, the media would have quickly trivialized any such visit. Clinton in the Jungle Room? What, are you kidding? The jokes write themselves, do they not?
One thing that Bush and Presley did have in common, though, was/is disastrously bad management. But, where Elvis’ enormous talent was soured, wasted and ultimately destroyed by Sam Perkins, Bush has a different management issue. Junior Bush has proved throughout his life that he has no talent, for anything. He knowingly and willingly offered to serve as the vessel for all the bad ideas of his handlers – Reagan without the natural aw-shucks star quality.
Where Sam Perkins’ mismanagement robbed us of a few great records and, perhaps, a decent career that would have continued to this day (Elvis deserved his elderly Vegas years at least as much as Paul Anka); Karl Rove and company robbed us of our national soul and our international respect.
If anyone deserves to reach the end of his career face down on the bathroom floor, it’s George W. Bush.