The President of War Detailed in Verse

Progressive poet Elizabeth Gerteiny recounts Bush years in verse

When poet and progressive activist Elizabeth Gerteiny became discouraged by the follies of George W. Bush and his administration, she began writing a blog that poked fun at the Bushies in political verse and prose.

After eight years of chronicling the administration's escapades at www.bushandcompany.org the longtime Westport resident decided to collect her verses in a manuscript titled:

THE PRESIDENT OF WAR and the Cowards, Villains, and Fools Behind Him: an unfolding record of the George W. Bush Administration in verse.

The book was featured at the International Book Fair, Book Expo America, held recently in New York City at the Jacob Javitz Center.

The Bush memoir Decision Points (W's viewpoint on his reign as president) will be released a week after the 2010 midterm elections, and Gerteiny believes it may not only renew interest in his time spent in office but on her perspective of what those years entailed.

With more than 100 verses, preceded by the news events that inspired them, the author hopes that readers will find themselves chuckling while wondering how the President of War could have been permitted to ruin the reputation of the United States.

"I like poets who rhyme and use cadence and alliteration," says the author who perhaps is best known for her English translations of French poetry, including the works of Jean Passerat. "It's not terribly popular these days, but I don't think many people can understand much of the current blank verse except those who wrote it. Some of my favorite poems –'In My Craft or Sullen Art' by Dylan Thomas and 'Remembered Gaiety' by Mark van Doren are rhymed."

Gerteiny has served on the editorial staffs of New Story Magazine, The Paris Review, and Poet Lore. She has also worked in the editorial departments of Harper & Brothers and Rinehart publishers. Active in politics since the 1970s, Gerteiny has supported such causes as the anti-war movement, historic preservation, wildlife, and the environment. Her columns and op-ed pieces on the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq have appeared in newspapers nationwide, gaining her a following among progressive activists.

The author's first verse came to her on the day Bush 43 stood on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in front of the banner that read "Mission Accomplished."

She began jotting down notes about it that night.

"I have paper by the bed, and I scribble my thoughts down in the dark so I won't forget while I'm asleep. When I wake up, there it is. During Bush's tenure, I had plenty of material to work with," Gerteiny said.

The author writes in her preface: "For too long, President Bush and his team enjoyed a run of luck in which their every blunder, perversity and breach of faith turned to dust as in much of the public consciousness they were ignored, dismissed or forgotten. Finally, "enough rope" given them by the cosmic powers that be, began to slacken… How will the politicos charged with leading us be remembered?  A handful of historians may be too kind, but facts, still hidden, will eventually debunk them."

The author thinks that Bush's legacy will forever be defined by 9/11, the Iraq war, torture, Hurricane Katrina, the dismantling of the U.S. Constitution, environmental recklessness, and deregulation causing the economic meltdown. She believes the Decider's decisions adversely affected not only the United States of America and its citizens but the world community as well.

"The thing that bothered me more than the war was his attitude toward wildlife and the environment for the sake of Big Business and his obsession with drilling for oil in President Eisenhower's tiny wildlife haven in Alaska even though the rewards would be negligible," Gerteiny said.

She notes that stewardship of the land is one of the sharp contrasts between President Barack Obama and President Bush—although our current leader did nothing to alter the Bush/Cheney energy policy that could have prevented the massive oil spill by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Obama on his very first day in office issued executive orders that cancelled drilling, mining and logging by Big Business in the national parks and wilderness areas that Bush had ordered," she said. "There is more Obama could have done—but he has done a lot."

Gerteiny has continued to add the occasional verse about Bush, Cheney and the rest, because "they refuse to go away. "

In her preface she notes: "Whether beneficiaries of his tax breaks or not, we're all casualties of the Bush regime. In the end, who benefits from poisoned air and toxic waters, tainted imports, devastated open lands, strapped and strangled municipalities, an inhumane health care system, a depleted economy, a trillion-and-climbing debt to China, worldwide animosity and a collapsing infrastructure? Ironically, the polluters and exploiters themselves also fall victim to the ruinous conditions of their making."

"I made tough choices to ensure

America would be secure.

My conscience always guided me---"

(But will historians disagree?)

 So much taints that grand old Bush name,

Still President Bush takes little blame.

His attitude remains the same---

"This presidency is just about me."

 "Bush loyalists—confirmed Republicans no matter what, religious/political extremists, the uninformed who believe what they're told, those who profit from his fiscal policies and Democrat haters—may someday find themselves personally afflicted by the twice-stolen presidency of George W. Bush," the author concluded.



Dalma Heyn September 16, 2010 at 05:50 PM
How clever of Gerteiny to wake us from our numbness (ours, but not hers!) at this crucial moment--and to do so in the grand old political satirical style of verse. She joins writers like Dickens and Orwell in harnessing prodigious knowledge and passion and then offering it up in a form that allows us to laugh amid our tears. --Dalma Heyn
Gloria Gouveia September 16, 2010 at 07:28 PM
Thank you, Elizabeth Gerteiny for a brobdingnagian effort in rhyme and reason. You have transformed the proverbial lemons into lemoncello. Please let us know when the book signings are scheduled. Gloria Gouveia
billybob May 11, 2011 at 12:50 PM
How ironic that Gerteiny remains boisterously silent on the current idiot in the White House. She couldn't wait to bash President Bush, and just weeks after Obama took office, she lavished praise on him as he "slipped into office as though it were made for him" So, how about it, Liz? No snarky tomes bashing Obama's idiotic Lybian war? No teeth gnashing over continued 10% unemployment? No cutsie rhymes about trillions of incurred debt that will cripple my children and grand children? Can't think up a clever snippet when it comes to Obama broken promises? Close Gitmo in 6 months? Out of Iraq in a year? Stimulus funds will create 100,000 jobs? Whattsa matter? Cat got your tongue? Your hypocrisy is showing, old girl.


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