Washington sniffs the scent of defeat
Linda S. Heard
You've got to feel sorry for a mother who is scared to watch the news on television in case she's faced with a scathing snippet concerning her own son. Apparently Barbara Bush avoids such upsets by wearing earmuffs when the channel is changed and rarely reads the dailies, according to her daughter Doro Bush Koch, who has recently released a memoir, titled My Father, My President.
That, perhaps more than anything, illustrates the general mood of a country poised to vote in an upcoming mid-term election. Indeed, George W. Bush's approval ratings are so low, Republican candidates are said to groan when they hear the president plans to support them on the campaign trail.
His government's failures during Hurricane Katrina, GOP corruption, sex scandals and the ongoing carnage in Iraq threaten to reduce the Republican majority in both the House and the Senate.
It's little wonder that this much-maligned leader -- who has visibly lost his bounce and developed an occasional stammer -- gathered together selected crony conservative columnists for an "informal chat" to garner last ditch media support.
He began his coffee klatch with a predictable scary monologue that mostly revolved around the evils of the Middle East.
"It is conceivable that 20 or 30 years from now, the world will see a Middle East in which violent forms of -- extreme forms of Islam -- compete for power, moderate governments will be toppled, oil will be used to extract concessions and Iran will have a nuclear weapon . . ."
"I see the threat and will use American power to protect ourselves and at the same time try to create the first victory in this ideological -- the first victories -- in the ideological war of the 21st century."
"The problem, Mr President, is people don't believe we're at war," someone told him. But Bush knows America is at war. "There are people out there that would like nothing more than to have another spectacular moment by killing the American people."
"And they're coming," he warns, sounding more and more like an actor in a bad "B" Martian movie.
On the forefront is Iraq, which, according to Bush, is a veritable hotbed of "Al Qaida look-alikes" and "Al Qaida wannabes" inspired by "Al Qaida central."
The president credits General John Abizaid -- "one of the really great thinkers" -- as coming up with this profound pearl of wisdom: "If we leave, they will follow us here."
Doesn't say much for US border controls does it? No wonder Bush has signed the bill authorising a fence between the southern border states and Mexico.
He may have seen the discarded out-take from the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, where Borat carrying a large bag and dressed like an Arab, is caught by minutemen attempting to cross over into California. "He's probably got a nuclear bomb in there," concludes one patriotic vigilante.
Protection of America
The president views the protection of America as his number one issue and admits he views this "as a struggle of good versus evil," while allowing that his philosophy might not be "nuanced enough for some of the thinkers . . ."
It certainly wasn't nuanced enough for the former German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, whose memoirs have recently been released. Schroeder was concerned that religion was the driving force behind Bush's political decisions.
But who are we to scoff at the president's unshakeable faith that the war in Iraq is worthwhile? "Things are happening. It's an entrepreneurial group of people," he says before asking the cozy group not to "write me down as hopelessly naive and trying to always put lipstick on the pig".
And now for an example of the crony columnists' incisive questioning: "Can't Syria get some payback for sending all these guys over the border to subvert Iraq?"
"Now you're thinking," says Bush, eliciting jolly back-slapping laughter.
Another brings up an article suggesting North Korea is developing chemical and biological weapons - "anthrax, botulism" and "the plague."
"You're trying to get diplomacy to work, but what else are we doing to protect ourselves?" he asks.
"A lot of nations have agreed to inspect cargo ships," says Bush, adding, "He's [Kim Jong-il] isolated, he's out there in the middle of nowhere. Don't worry about him. Let him starve his people to death -- which he is doing."
On the subject of the mid-term elections, the president says he's "campaigning like mad" telling people "you better have a government that does everything in its power to protect you from attack."
"Whatever excuse they need, they have made up their mind to attack and they grab on to things to kind of justify. But if it's not Iraq, it's Israel. If it's not Israel, it's the crusades. If it's not the crusades, it is the cartoon. I'm not kidding you. They are cold-blooded killers."
"If it's not the crusades, it's the cartoon -- that's a good slogan," suggests one of the loyal propagandists.
Barbara Bush had better ensure a hefty stock of earmuffs. The toadies were impressed but judging by polls the American people's ears are already deaf to Bush's rallying calls. They just don't get it. They can't understand how invading, bombing and coercing the rest of the world makes them safer.
Poor President Bush may eventually be the last man standing in his endless war but before you get out your hankies, remember the commander-in-chief's noble words - "Look, I'm not looking for sympathy. It's a volunteer job."
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