Yes, I'm reading "Dead Certain," by Robert Draper, which just came out today. And those are the first 2 lines of the Prologue. Why does Draper start that way?
We get the basic proposition that Bush is playing for the good opinion of history or that that's his excuse anyway for the low opinion in the current polls. We get the surprise in the second clause that it's Bush himself speaking, and Althouse laughs to see her President referring to himself in the third person. We get the expression of perplexity: it's impossible to figure things out as they unfold in the present. And we get the image of a dead Bush -- so pleasing to Bush haters, yet so acceptable because it's Bush himself conjuring up the image of the dead Bush. And "dead" is one of the two words in the title of the book.
Althouse, are you going to simulblog your reading of this book sentence by sentence, with that unhealthy level of stream of consciousness?
You never know! Look out. This blog could go years reading a book that way. But perhaps that is the direction a blog like this will take. Keep reading.
Are you telling us to keep reading the blog or telling yourself to keep reading the book?
Mmm. Well. There's some perplexity in figuring that out. Let's go on to the second sentence.
"George W. Bush slipped a piece of cheese into his mouth."
There's something so loathsome and slovenly about slipping a piece of cheese into one's mouth.
Did Draper really remember the exact point in the 5 days of transcripts when Bush slipped cheese into his mouth? And how long did Draper search for the mot juste and come up with "slip"? What went through his mind? Surely, it wasn't anything about the way Bush actually put the cheese in his mouth. I bet he popped it in. Why would he slip it in? Because he was just too lazy to open his lipless orifice any more than a thin slot? Or is Draper shaping our malleable brains for what he's about to slip in like a piece of cheese?
Slip -- it reminds us of all the slips Bush has made. Slip it in -- that's sexual innuendo. Bush is screwing us!
And why cheese? It's that bland, fatty fare so widely consumed in the parts of the country where they don't notice when Bush is screwing them.
It's a slang term:
In modern English slang, something "cheesy" is kitsch, cheap, inauthentic, or of poor quality.Like the Bush presidency.
One can also be "cheesed off"— unhappy or annoyed.As we are with the Bush presidency.
Such negative connotations might derive from a ripe cheese's sometimes-unpleasant odor.Bush stinks!
Almost certainly the odor explains the use of "cutting the cheese" as a euphemism for flatulence, and the term "cheesy feet" to mean feet which smell.Bush cut the cheese! [ADDED: On page 9, we're informed of Bush's "farting on the plane," as an aspect of his "realness," which made the politicos love him in 1999.]
A more upbeat slang use is seen in "the big cheese", an expression referring to the most important person in a group, the "big shot" or "head honcho."That would be Bush.
This use of the word probably derived not from the word cheese, but from the Persian or Hindi word chiz, meaning a thing.Iran!
"Cheese it" is a 50's slang that means "get away fast."Impeach him!
A more whimsical bit of American and Canadian slang refers to school buses as "cheese wagons," a reference to school bus yellow.Bush is dumb.
Subjects of photographs are often encouraged to "say cheese!", as the word "cheese" contains the phoneme /i/, a long vowel which requires the lips to be stretched in the appearance of a smile.We can only smile fake smiles now because of Bush. We are so glum these days that without artificially stretching our mouths, we can only slip in tiny bits of sustenance.
People from Wisconsin and the Netherlands, both centers of cheese production, have been called cheeseheads. This nickname has been embraced by Wisconsin sports fans — especially fans of the Green Bay Packers or Wisconsin Badgers — who are now seen in the stands sporting plastic or foam hats in the shape of giant cheese wedges.Go Badgers! Where's my hat?
Althouse, are you capable of reading a book anymore?
You can't possibly figure that out until I'm dead.
ADDED: As the Prologue continues, Bush does proceed to pop cheese into his mouth. Page x:
He had flung himself into his chair like a dirty sweatshirt and continued to pop pieces of cheese into his mouth. Stress was hammered into his face.Aw, come on now. Why does the sweatshirt have to be dirty? And why flung? We're given a sense of his carelessness -- just from the way he lounges or sprawls in his chair. (How was Draper sitting? Did Draper drape himself across the chair?)
And note the violent imagine of hammering into his face. But Bush is not hammered. He hasn't had a drink in 20 years -- page xiii -- though he still remembers "the feeling of a hangover," and he realizes he wouldn't be President if he'd kept drinking: "You get sloppy, can't make decisions, it clouds your reason, absolutely." Good point!
Anyway, back to the food. While slipping/popping cheese -- eschewing the menu -- Bush orders a hot dog.
Bush ate rapidly, with a sort of voracious disinterest. He was a man who required comfort and routine.You can tell a lot about a man by the way he eats his hot dog. The food even falls out of his mouth as he talks about Iran. He speaks "through an ample wad of bread and sausage." An ample wad of bread and sausage? That sounds dirty. And not like a sweatshirt flung on a chair.