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A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance Co.Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Nouns and Pronouns BY LEWISH. LAPHAM State business is a cruel trade; good nature is a bungler in it. Marquis of Halifax Of all the lies that President-elect George Bush so obediently told during the autumn election campaign, none was more preposterous than the one about how he wished to change America into “a kinder and gentler nation.” I can understand why a politician would tell the customary lies about clean water, lower taxes, and the flag; but what would prompt him to think that a nation especially a nation remarkable for its military prowess and its frenzied devotion to money can acquire the virtues properly associated only with individuals? An abstract noun neither smiles nor sings nor tells bedtime stories. The promise of human feeling on the part of any institution whether a bank or an infantry regiment debases the language and props up the effigy to whom George Orwell gave the name “Big Brother.” When governments claim the rights of individuals \(just as when individuals claim the prerogatives been supplanted by the rule of men. The question remains as to what it was that Bush or, more likely, his speechwriters had in mind. Were they being cynical or elegiac? Had they become so contemptuous of native opinion as to think that by saying so they could change cruise missiles into birthday balloons? Or, having become frightened by what they had seen of the moral squalor of the Reagan administration, were they promoting a happy return to Christianity and the third grade? Given the barbarous lessons of the twentieth century, I don’t know how anybody can still pretend that any nationstate whether American, Soviet, or Chinese can afford the luxuries of mercy or compassion. Cruel by nature and dishonorable by definition, the state recognizes no law other than its own need. Were the state to be cast in an animal form it would be seen as a hideous and mutant thing reptilian, stupid, rapacious, and half-blind. Surely even Bush must know by now that the state doesn’t play by the same rules as those in effect at Andover or a Connecticut country club. As director of the Central Intelligence Agency he presumably had occasion to reflect on the ways in which the United States was obliged to sacrifice human life and happiness \(in Cambodia, say, or years of his service in President Reagan’s household guard, Bush undoubtedly had further occasion to notice that the United States sometimes found it expedient to abandon its debase its currency, default on its debts, repudiate its treaties, cheat its own citizens \(of medical care, a school forward the shipment of cocaine to Shreveport and points north, and lie repeatedly and complacently about the environmental catastrophe leaking out of the government’s nuclear weapons factories in Ohio, Colorado, and South Carolina. If this were not instruction enough, Bush certainly had occasion to study the mechanics of political chicanery during the course of his presidential campaign. He proved to be a diligent apprentice. Prior to the Republican convention in New Orleans last summer, it was thought that Bush didn’t have much talent as a demagogue. Everybody knew that he would do and say what he was told to do and say, but could he convince the television cameras? The nominating conventions bear comparison to the medieval practice of readying a knight for battle. Just as the knight’s squires raised him onto his horse and forced over his head the iron mask of power, so also the candidate’s political valets dress him in the glittering plates of armed cliche. For the Republicans in New Orleans, the mounting of Vice President George Bush presented the awful possibility of clownish parody. The plumed helmet was too big for the candidate’s head, and his grooms knew that he was likely to slide off the other side of the horse. Never was there a novice captain so unsuited to the illusion of command. By all accounts a once decent man attentive to his family and friends, as well intentioned as the first day of school Bush unfortunately possessed none of the attributes expected of an equestrian statue in a public park. His manner was that of the eager and perennial sophomore, and his voice, which was thin, carried the overtone of upperclass privilege in tennis clothes. Despite his considerable experience in government service, Bush conveyed the impression of boyish fecklessness undisturbed by the labor of thought. Well aware of their candidate’s weaknesses, Bush’s attendants in New Orleans relied on the arts of advertising: If they couldn’t turn him into bronze or stone, they could transform him into a salable product, which, in a commercial society, is the next best thing to immortality. The problem was so well understood by political cadres in New ‘York and Washington that they spoke of Bush \(as they also spoke or a Japanese car. The marketing plan devised in New Orleans made use of the two principal strategies known to the sellers of what Madison Avenue calls “message icons”: “comparative “brand-imaging” \(lies about the wonders of one’s own BERNARD RAPOPORT Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer American Income Life Insurance Company EXECUTIVE OFFICES: P.O. 80X 208, WACO, TEXAS 78703, 817-772-3050 20 MARCH 10, 1989