Monday, December 20, 2004

Don't ask me

Fareed Zakaria quipped on Sunday’s This Week that the bad news is that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld only has one supporter, the good news is that it’s President Bush.

In his “traditional” holiday news conference this morning, the President made it clear he is 100% behind Rumsfeld. “He’s a good, decent man. He’s a caring fellow.” Apparently Rummy and his wife are at the Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals “all the time”. I think he’s personally knitting socks for amputees. That’s why he can’t sign condolence letters, I mean there’s hundreds of them, what do you want from the guy?

Bush also remains100% behind Kerik, a figure whose rap sheet is so troubling it is widely believed an illegal nanny was ginned up to put the press off the scent. “He made the decision” to withdraw his nomination, Bush told the press pack. Mister President, have you given any more thought to that debate question about a mistake you’ve made, have you been able to identify one yet, sir?

The mistake Bush is now intent on correcting, of course, is Social Security. Pressed for information about reforming a system that impacts every American citizen, Bush was ready. “[I know the press will try] to get me to negotiate with myself in public,” he told a network correspondent, “I just want to condition you. …I know there’s questions about what [reform] means. I will repeat, don’t bother to ask me.”

Fox news was recognized to make a paid political announcement. “Mister President, can you tell us why the Democrats have their heads completely up their tailpipes on this issue?”

“The crisis is here,” said Bush. “The current system cannot support that which has been promised to the workers.”

Later, when the President had turned “away from the media” and was talking to the L.A. Times, its reporter tried to get Bush to give us a hint about the ground rules, you know, like which of us should start laying in supplies of dog food. He was told, “Nothing will change. Promises will be met.”

A British reporter asked about Osama bin Laden. “Well, if I had to guess…” Bush was so bored he could barely complete a sentence on the topic. What’s the big deal? 9/11 was never about Osama, it was about my reelection. Mission accomplished. Next?

The Mideast peace process after Arafat? “I gave a speech June 24, 2002, in the Rose Garden that laid out the vision…” What and you’re asking me again??

There was just time for one more important announcement. “The Crawford Pirates are the state 2-A champs. And we look forward to waving the championship banner over Crawford.”

Many will see that last item as irrelevant. But it was wholly thematic, a distillation of the message as pure as a Biblical parable. Why are we in Iraq? Why were we in Vietnam? If you can’t see the answer in Texas high school football, well, what planet are you from?


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