By MARC MCDONALD
They were both petulant, arrogant, and convinced that they were doing God's work. They were both out-of-control, power-mad leaders. As youngsters, they both enjoyed torturing small animals. Both spent their ruling years engaged in horrific wars against Islamic nations. And despite their cruel, bloodthirsty and savage ways, both have fanatical supporters who defend their actions to this day.
Who am I talking about?
George W. Bush and Vlad The Impaler.
Vlad, who is believed to have served as the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula novel was, in real life, a 15th century prince of the East European state of Wallachia (now part of Romania).
Like Bush, Vlad was born into a background of wealth, power and privilege. Like Bush's dad, Vlad's father, Vlad II Dracul, was a head of state, as well. Both father and son spent their reigns engaged in bloody wars against Muslim nations (the Ottoman Empire, in the case of Vlad).
Even as youngsters, George W. Bush and Vlad The Impaler had creepy similarities in their lives. Both shared an enthusiasm for torturing small animals.
The 1990 book, Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times points out that as a youngster, Vlad amused himself by torturing and mutilating small animals:
"...he could not cure himself of the evil habit of catching mice and having birds bought at the marketplace, so that he could punish them by impalement."
As The New York Times reported, in a May 21, 2000 article, George W. Bush also enjoyed torturing small animals as a youngster. "We were terrible to animals," Bush childhood friend Terry Throckmorton was quoted as saying. Throckmorton described how Bush and his friends treated frogs they found on the Bush family estate.
"Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them," Throckmorton said. "Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up."
The life stories of George W. Bush and Vlad The Impaler share other similarities. Taking a look at their time in power, one can't help but notice the eerie similarities in both rulers' bloody, savage wars against Muslim nations.
The atrocities that occurred in Vlad The Impaler's military campaigns against the Muslim nations are well documented. Reading about these atrocities, one can't help but be reminded of the various horrors of Bush's war in Iraq, including the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse case, as well as the use of flesh-melting white phosphorous chemical weapons against the population of Fallujah.
Both Bush and Vlad, of course, were advocates of torture during their time in power. Bush enthusiastically embraced waterboarding. And Vlad, of course, was a big fan of the torture technique that gave him his nickname ("The Impaler").
Another similarity is that Bush and Vlad were both famous as tough, law-and-order rulers (as long as those accused of breaking the law weren't wealthy cronies). In Vlad's time, the peasants were so frightened of breaking the law, that it is said that one could leave a bag of gold on the street and return to find it untouched the next day.
Of course, "law and order" has long been one of Bush's favorite campaign themes, dating back to his time as Texas governor. In Bush's five years as governor, Texas executed 152 prisoners, by far the highest total for any state and more than any other governor in modern American history.
One final notable similarity between George W. Bush and Vlad The Impaler is how both men have fanatical followers who continue to passionately defend their legacies to this day.
While Vlad is recognized in the West as a bloodthirsty monster and tyrant, many people in Romania regard Vlad as a national hero to this day. As Dracula, Prince of Many Faces points out, oral Romanian folklore made Vlad "a national hero, a kind of George Washington of Romanian history."
Compare that to today's worship of Bush by the nutcase right-wing fringe. From Fox News to hatewing radio to the right-wing blogosphere, Bush has a fanatical following that throws a temper tantrum any time someone dares to criticize their beloved hero.