Washington Post Mildly Describes Bush-Hating Ballet As Work of 'Zealous Gadfly'

December 18th, 2006 7:06 AM

In the era of Bill Clinton, the liberal media was not shy about locating "Clinton haters." In March of 1994, Washington Post reporter Ann Devroy reported from the front of conservatism, "Bill Clinton’s enemies are making their hatred clear, with a burning intensity and in some case with an organized passion." She listed as haters Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Reagan, and so on. But the Post doesn’t seem to use the term "Bush hater," even when Bush haters are dancing right in front of them.

See Monday’s Style section for a feature on a Bush-hating ballet. Sarah Kaufman’s review of a Kennedy Center performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company is mildly headlined "Paul Taylor, Hitting Close To Home: At His 'Banquet of Vultures,' George Bush Is the Centerpiece." What a treat, another "antiwar" artist trashing the warmongers, with Bush cast as uncaring about troop deaths, and even committing one himself:

If anyone doubted who the savage character in the suit and tie was supposed to represent in Paul Taylor's unsparingly brutal antiwar work "Banquet of Vultures," Taylor himself minced no words in explaining.

"Frankly, the guy in the red tie is Bush," the ordinarily reticent choreographer told the audience during a discussion after Friday's richly textured performance of the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Taylor said he was inspired to create a dance focusing on President Bush after watching him move.

The first time I saw Bush walking, on television, I did not trust the man," he said. "His walk is a lie.

"Walks are like fingerprints," he continued. "They tell a lot about us. And this one was not sincere."

This matches the Jonathan Chait standard of Bush hate, even hating the way a man walks. But the Post seems to delight in the distaste, and how it unravels on a stage almost walking distance from the White House. Taylor is not a "hater," but merely a colorful speaker, a zealous gadfly:

Taylor's own body language, his animated demeanor, his very willingness to speak colorfully in a large public forum made clear how pleased this native Washingtonian was that "Banquet of Vultures" -- an obvious denunciation of the Iraq war and the politicians who started it, a work that Taylor created last year -- was being seen just a short hop from the White House.

Despite the wholesome athletic appearance of the dancers he hires, and despite the generally upbeat nature of his works, Taylor harbors the zealous heart of a gadfly. He likes to shock.

The idea that Taylor is a gadfly, and not a hater, collapses when Kaufman attempts to describe what happens on stage. The ballet casts Bush as evil: "the wellspring of evil is within the human heart -- particularly, in 'Banquet,' in the heart that holds the power." Taylor is painting Bush not only as loathsome, but as a rapist and murderer.

Taylor puts his self-described presidential figure right in the middle of the battlefield, watching stonily as agonies fell the troops. Trusnovec, all angles and edges, dances the [Bush] role with surgical exactitude, and his eyes were sharpest of all, cold and unflinching. After he violates a female recruit, kills her and tosses her aside, the spotlight shifts upstage to a second power figure in a suit and tie. Wracked as if by inner demons, throwing himself to the stage and rising again, this man is has a clear identity as well: He'll be the next sicko to wage war.

Kaufman did conclude she would not want to see it again, since it was too end-of-the-world for her, and "In its obvious topicality, it lost complexity. It was not easy on the ear with its screeching score," and ultimately the Bush-bashing was too unsurprisingly familiar.

Especially if you work at the Washington Post.