My first reaction to seeing so-called leftist radicals in Latin American rioting and setting American flags on fire in anticipation of Bush’s visit was that Bush had to be a masochist to submit to that. But on second thought I realized that this did not fit into his personality profile as a hard core narcissist. On third thought I saw the public relations fingerprints of the post-Libby trial Karl Rove.

This is a great way for Bush to play the hero of democracy and wear the noble robes of a diplomat.  As a bonus, he can symbolically stick it to those pro-flag burning "ACLU commie"  Democrats.

Get ready to see more giant burning American flags on the television news and images of our grin and bear it president.

Some of the flags I’ve seen seem to have been professionally manufactured with skulls instead of stars. The demonstrators are carrying signs with Bush spelled with a swastika for the S. They are said to be setting off homemade explosives. Even CNN is reporting that leftist "guerillas" are planning acts of sabotage, although I have yet to determine how they know this is true. 

This all is sure to lead to hyperactive outrage from the Fox newscasters and other right wing commentators who will cast the demonstrators as Yanqui hating Chavezitistas, even though (according to ABC News)  polls taken in Latin America show widespread opposition to the Iraq war, state sponsored torture, as well as U.S trade and immigration policies. 

Bushites must be viewing with outrage images of rioters who they are probably convinced are al-Qaeda sympathizers, or worse, as they stomp on the embers of burning flags. They are no doubt cheering as they watch the riot police gas and club them. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if prompted by their favorite pundit, some will think Bush is fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them at home.

I doubt few, if any, of these blind loyalists will ask themselves if there is any country where George W. Bush can go where he’s held in high regard by the majority. They won’t wonder where he could go without at least some kind of anti-Bush demonstration.

You can be sure you will hear the "compassionate conservative"  Bush repeating what he told the Columbians, that we want to their friends, that he wants to tell the people of Latin America that the United States cares deeply about the human condition.

If anything the Libby conviction has shifted Bush and Rove’s  public relations into high gear.

As the flags burn in Latin America, Bush is supercharged south of the border and burning NASCAR rubber. 

We’ll know next week when polls of his approval ratings are out how successful this image rehabilitation has been.

Hal Brown is a clinical social worker and former mental health center director who is mostly retired from his private psychotherapy practice. He writes on the psychopathology of public figures and other topics that pique his interest. He can be found online at