Wednesday, January 21


• Now that it's possible, how 'bout we end the smirky, smarmy '41' and '43' business, and clear up any further confusion over whether President Bush means George Herbert Weepy or George Doofus, Jr., by never referring to either of them ever again?

• Or at least not as "President". "The Defendant" would be acceptable.

• Mr. Real President, who, now that you are safely ensconced in the office I would like to begin referring to as "Barack Hussein Obama" at every opportunity--it's not quite so funny now that he's really the President, eh, wingnuttosphere?--just who was it decided to punt on the speech, and why? Afraid of trying to live up to your reputation? I'm agnostic about it, myself--and some other things we'll get to in a moment--but it felt like turning up for some big-name rock star who plays nothing but his new material, straight through, no encore.

• Going short was good--you wanna draw parallels to Lincoln that's a good place to start--but how do you go short and still have filler? Valley Forge? Whoever put that there should be named US Trade Representative to the Northern Mariana Islands, starting tomorrow.

• Same, and long overdue, for this Westward Ho the Wagons shit. This country was settled by slaughtering the indigenous peoples and destroying their way of life. We can argue about smallpox, if you really want to; we can note that those peoples were, in their turn, frequently as ruthless and bloodthirsty as the rest of our damnable species. But the general pattern is clear: Europeans, especially the English and Spanish, and less so the French, took the land for their own use, through numerical and technical superiority and certain biological advantages (disease, horses), slaughtering and enslaving thousands; and the United States of America warred on any tribe with the impudence not to git when we said Git, then broke the resultant treaties as soon as it was desirable.

I'm not saying I was hoping you'd announce you'd be reviewing every treaty back to 1778, in your office, starting noon Friday. Anybody who'd run on such a platform--or, hell, was discovered to have expressed the idea in an undergraduate paper, for that matter--is not going to be elected President. But lemme tell you a little story.

My wife has been watching a particular soap opera since her college days. She used to have to catch up on vacations; now we get Soap Net. And I've been known to sit in, just to spoil her fun.

And here's the thing: there will be the most ridiculous story lines designed to get someone from A to B; currently, as one example, one of the wealthiest women in the world has suffered transient global amnesia, been declared dead and buried (it was actually her doppelgänger, a waitress from the wrong side of the tracks. I'm not sure how many doppelgängers this makes over the last twenty years). But wait, that's not the ridiculous part. She's arrested for trespassing on her own property--the cops in town don't recognize one of their most illustrious citizens, of course, but that's not the ridiculous part, and thrown in the clink for what seems to be several days without a court appearance. And my question, my usual question, is this: given that you'd settled on this absurd chain of events, and given even that you imagine the conventions of the genre give you a free hand with Coincidence, Probability, and advances in DNA testing, how hard could it be to write it so that it doesn't insult the intelligence at every fucking turn? If we need this "toiling, straining, carving out a better life for their descendants" routine, does it have to be at the expense of our knowledge of the enormity that came before?

• Going topical, well, your call, and who knows? I'm all for slagging the greedy, of course, and the line about "favoring only the prosperous" was when you were in your best rhythm. (Speaking of which, can we do something about that lack of modulation, or is it simply too late and you too famous to bear correction? You're good one on one; you certainly are capable of taking flight; but every speech sounds like you practiced it with a bullhorn. Vast stretches of the transcript ought to be typed in ALL CAPS. Silence. Spaces. Mezzo-fucking-piano, dude.) I just think your audience wanted to soar.

• And thanks for sneaking me in at the back there, sir, but in a day given to interminable expectant exhortations of the Almighty, who, so far as we know, remains steadfastly on the side of the bigger battalions, may I just note that I'm not a Non-Believer? I am, under the circumstances, a Dis-Believer. It's not that I chose not to participate; I think you're all full of shit. If we could at least get that much settled I'll go back to being more patient about my second-class citizenship than y'all have a right to expect. 

• Why was John "Box Turtle" Cornyn seated so prominently? What's it going to take before The Comically Oversized Stetson is recognized as the path-crossing black cat of Presidential inaugurations?

• Dick Cheney. I believe we now know why he's really been hidden for seven years: because he's a fucking drama queen with a gun. If I didn't know better I'd swear he did it just for the satisfaction of taking someone else's handicapped space. I am also now convinced that it's really Lynn who's been running the VP's office all this time.

• "...not Andy Card, Dan Bartlett, nor Dan Senor will miss any meals"
-Jimbo Riley, January 18, 2009

So thanks, CBS, for making all our dreams come true, not just by hiring Bartlett, but having him on hand so that Katie's platitudes wouldn't just hang in the air unseconded. Oooh, Dan Bartlett is wishing the new President well!  Gee, I guess the extremist Right really is reasonable! I watched the speech on C-SPAN, but I turned over to CBS for a slog just after, in time to hear Katie ask Dan "What's the overwhelming feeling right now for President Bush?" which was not answered with "Drunk, probably" or "God, Katie, do you still not realize the man's dumb as a stump and a complete sociopath?" but, instead, more platitudes. Let the Weasel Soar, indeed. At one point Bartlett said he didn't think Bush would "try to interject himself into the public debate". Thank you, Amazing Kreskin. After Katie volunteered the African legacy bullshit, Bartlett said something about how Bush had "given voice to people living under authoritarian regimes". I know, I know, I'm a little older than Dan, but I distinctly remember Jeanne Kirkpatrick saying we liked authoritarians. Tempus fucking fugit, I guess.

• There was someone on hand--he couldn't get a word in edgewise, so I'm not sure who it was--who finally managed to note above the Bush panegyric that a lot of people were just thrilled to see him go. Which caused Katie to suddenly go all epistemological on us, and Dan to add that this was true of every President. Sure, Dan. Just never as true. Thanks for your help.

• Even better, though, was a taped exit deal when some CBS news supernumerary or other told the story of "one of the most touching moments in recent inaugural history", which gave me about 0.5 sec to think "it's gonna be Reagan". And sure enough, it was the tale of that bittersweet moment when the Just Ex-President and Unindicted Co-Criminal, flying over the White House on his way to personal oblivion and public aircraft carrier christenings, said--as the CBS flunkey had it--"Look, honey, it's our little bungalow." Awwwwww. And everybody broke down, included hardened Secret Service men, he says.

Oh, yeah. My Poor Wife reports students openly weeping in the hallways after hearing that one in class.

Look, maybe if you've still got the man's dessicated member in your mouth the Lou Cannonization of Reagan is touching, and never mind that it's entirely possible by that point he thought it was a bungalow.  Or a painting. Or the in-flight movie. But as far as I'm concerned it's a first-class example of how Wit and Wisdom were devalued in those days, and with predictable long-term results. Plus, he called his wife "Mommy," not "honey". Funny how that little detail got garbled.


Narya said...

I did appreciate the shout-out, as well, though I agree with you about dis- rather than non-. I liked that Hindus got thrown in the mix, too; perhaps they can get Ganesh (remover of obstacles) on the case.

I ended up watching on ABC (someone scrounged a TV and got some rabbit ears, and that's the channel that came in). As one of the blatherers was watching Nancy P. and Dianne F. and the President-elect come out, she noted that it "wasn't a scene you could have seen 100 years ago."

I was trying to behave, but couldn't resist saying out loud that one could not have seen it 50 years ago. (there was much agreement around the table, not least because many of my coworkers are black & female.)

Also: Aretha Franklin can wear any damn hat she wants.

Monkay said...

Over at MSNBC there was clear audio of a large part of the crowd singing "Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye" when Dubya's helicopter took off. That was fun.

D. Sidhe said...

Now that it's possible, how 'bout we end the smirky, smarmy '41' and '43' business, and clear up any further confusion over whether President Bush means George Herbert Weepy or George Doofus, Jr., by never referring to either of them ever again?

I'm in. But I'll make an exception for "convicted war criminal George Bush".

Kathy said...

I'm curious about the letter Bush left for Obama. Not about the contents, but whether it was written in crayons or "blendy-pen" markers. Inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

I think it was actually "Loohuhsahbuaglow" and gained something in translation.

And yes, if Puddin'head didn't say "Mommy", it ain't no quote.