everywhere, but the museum also seems haunted by a Bush doppelganger, unsubstantial: a bloodless presence that always escapes closer inspection. The only time one sees Bush break into a political sweat is when he has to explain to his affluent constituents on Houston’s west side why his vote for the Fair Housing Act won’t hurt their property values. For the most part, it’s hard to figure out exactly what George Bush has stood for over the years. Other than getting ahead, that is. Which he did. And here’s the proof of his labors: A replica of his office at Camp David, down to the coffee cups and pencils in the deSk drawers. A replica of his office in Air Force Onethe ultimate ticket upgrade. A replica of the north White House portico, where the four Presidents had their photo made earlier in the daybig men in a scaled-down world. There are no surprises. The museum’s highlight is the Gulf War exhibit, a fast-paced, interactive introduction to the use of mass destruction in the service of political expediency. Peaceful Kuwait. Bad boy Iraq. American technology. Your tax dollars at work. Huge photographic murals of burning oil wells shock the mostly Texan crowdimagine a group of animal-rights activists watching a video of baby seals being clubbed. The war itself is represented as a huge multi-media video gameand it’s hands-on. Ten-year-old boys push a button to launch a tank attack across the Iraqi desert, roll up the southern flank, or return the residents of Baghdad to the stone age. Looking into simulated night-vision goggles, you can watch an Iraqi tank explode. That’s it. No visit to the mountaintop for this president. From the Gulf War exhibit, it’s a short walk down a ramp past a photo of Bush and Gorbachev launching the New World Order. There’s a brief, bitter discussion of the 1992 elections. There’s more tokens of gratitude from the Kuwaitis. There’s Barbara’s charity projects. There’s gifts from Bush admirers. Then there’s the museum shop. By the time the crowds start re-emerging from the museum, the festivities in the big tent are over, the parking lots start to thin out, news crews grab a few last shots and wrap up their broadcasts. A group of boisterous college students takes over the speakers’ platform, taking photos of each other sitting in the very places where the seats of government rested less than an hour ago. The groundskeepers reappear, and start cleaning up. Across the field you can watch the corporate jets launch, one after the other from the little airport: missiles targeting the next unsuspecting population. Paul Jennings is a Houston writer at work on a book about the early history of the city. THE MUSEUM SEEMS HAUNTED BY A BUSH DOPPELGANGER, UNSUBSTANTIAL: A BLOODLESS PRESENCE THAT ALWAYS ESCAPES CLOSER INSPECTION. Subscribe to The Texas Observer Texas Politics, Investigative Reporting, Dateline Texas Ivins, I lightower, Political Intelligence 32 pages, two staples Delivered to your door every other week. A Journal of Free Voices since 1954 I want to subscribe to The Texas Observer. Name Address City/State/Zip Subscribe online at http://texasobserver.org , or e-mail [email protected] Cl 11 11 Bill me. n Check enclosed. 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 5, 1997
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