BUSH'S WACO-CRAWFORD PIG FARM
My friend Harry had a unique response to my little story about visiting Cindy Sheehan in Crawford the other day. Most people who called or e-mailed, commented on the emotional (or political) impact it had on them. Harry, however, wanted to know all about the Bush compound. "Why would he live out there in the middle of nowhere?" he wondered. I did a little diggin' around and I want to tell you about the Bush Compound. My favorite L.A. band is actually a Texas band living in L.A. I can't reveal their name because the drummer told me a story in confidence. His great grandfather was the local grand-something-or-other of the Ku Klux Klan in that part of Texas. And he owned a pig farm. And that pig farm is now "the Western White House."
Bush bought the pig farm-- the KKK fella had long departed for the Great Klavern in the sky... or wherever-- in 1999, soon after reaping a $14.3 million dollar profit in the sweetheart deal he got by selling the Texas Rangers. (Bush's value-add on the deal was the brilliant move to trade away Sammy Sosa just before he became a household name.) Bush bought it as a prop. It isn't a real ranch and he's afraid of horses anyway. It really and truly is just a photo-op backdrop for the "reality" tv show, "The Tragic Presidency of George W. Bush," that masks the biggest theft in the history of our nation.
Harry wants to know why Bush chose a place so remote from civilization and in so desolate and barren an area. It is more than just a choice to avoid reality-- something Cindy completely shattered anyway (ruined the whole damn vacation and pissed him off no end!). Back in 2001, before 9-11 made anyone pay any serious attention to Bush, complainers were already complaining that he was spending as much time out of D.C. as he was in D.C. He was looking like he was going to preside over a very hands-off, passive presidency (wow-- did we ever get that wrong!). "I think it is so important for a president to spend some time away from Washington, in the heartland of America," Bush explained.
Is Crawford "the heartland?" Before Cindy even said anything when I met her last week, she brushed a fire ant off my face. Crawford's environs are crawling with 'em. If the area doesn't insulate the inhabitants from aggressive, stinging insects, it does insulate them from people, the kind, presumably, that represents "the heartland" (unless "the heartland" is just about geography and not about the American community). The roads are narrow, unmarked, some are rutted; a stretch is dirt. And the re-done pig farm sits behind electronic fencing. KOS made some very good observations about Bush's pig farm: "The world of Crawford insulates travelers in another way as they leave the shopping malls of Waco behind. An invisible ideological cocoon seems woven around mid-Texas. Its threads consist of strong strands of conservatism knotted together with strings of distrust of all things from the outside world. Simply put, 'If you're not from here, you don't belong here.' But membership can, it seems, be bought. The president isn't a long-time resident of this community, having moved into his new digs on Election Day, 2000, but his picture, as well as that of the First Lady, grace a tall billboard welcoming travelers to the area. He literally gives all who enter a 'thumbs up'." (My pal Andy has written me some instructions for how to insert a photo and if it works you see that billboard at the edge of town with me standing in front of it.)
Cheryl Seal wrote a well-researched piece in 2003 that goes into a lot of details about the pig farm Bush revamped and had ready for action on the exact day he, his brother, Katherine Harris and the U.S. Supreme Court stole the 2000 election. "Have you seen all those article and pictures of Bush 'at home on the ranch' in Crawford-- the ones that imply that he is 'just an ole ranch hand' more comfortable on the family homestead than in the 'Big City,' be it Austin or D.C.? Well, if you bought this image, you've been royally snookered. The Bush family homestead in Crawford is nothing more than an elaborate set," she wrote. "The whole idea behind the ranch set, of course, was so that the public could be treated to footage of Bush seeking a quiet 'retreat' at the family ranch. Americans would thus assume that the ranch was a rooted family homestead or compound like the one Kennedy's had in Martha's Vineyard or FDR had at Campobello. But when Bush retreated into his 'homestead' in November, 2000, he was merely walking onto a prepared set upon which the paint had barely dried, let alone even the barest of roots put down! Until Bush and handlers decided that a rural ranch would be a slick bit of PR for the presidential campaign, Bush had no interest in a 'home on the range.' Instead, his preferred weekend retreat was to the Rainbo Club, an exclusive lakeside hunting club in Henderson County, about an hour south of Dallas."
It is widely assumed that when Bush is finally out of the White House he'll sell the pig farm and move to Dallas. The pig farm compound is closer to Waco than the Branch Davidian Compound was but no one ever mentions that for some reason. And, of course, Bush doesn't own any of the cattle on his "ranch". They are the cattle of the previous owner, who still lives there and actually runs Bush's little movie set for him. As for the horses you see in the backdrops... Bush is afraid of them and has never ridden any; like so much in his anti-reality-based presidency, it's all window dressing and all for show).