Satire by Michael Paine
long after George Bush spoke to the nation last Sunday, the
New York Times - that bastion of liberal elitism -
ran on its front page an article by David M. Halbfinger which
purported to take "the pulse" of the American public's reaction
to the speech.
And just where did the Times and Mr. Halbfinger decide
was the best place to ask around? Why Georgia, of course -
the nation's melting pot of diverse political opinion.
The responses - from self-described liberals, conservatives,
Democrats, Republicans, etc., ran the gamut from unqualified
enthusiastic support for the president all the way to enthusiastic
support qualified by a small level of discomfort with the
mounting casualties in Iraq. Well, to be fair, Mr. Halbfinger
did find one political extremist - a 27-year old waitress
named Candi (or Ditzy - I forget), who said that soldiers
dying was "like, icky and stuff".
I suppose in a way it's comforting to know that in order
to continue propping up the narrow-eyed, dissembling twit
in the White House the Times had to go all the way
to Georgia to solicit opinions on his speech. Georgia is,
after all, the state that thought Saxby Chambliss was more
patriotic than Max Cleland.
Sure, the Times could have asked around in, say,
Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles,
Madison, Montpellier, or even - here's a stretch - New York.
But why poll blue-state elitists when you can talk to "Democrats"
Democrats like Dan Conaway, who described himself as "somewhere
between Bismarck and Winston Churchill" on foreign policy.
Oh yes, I think I remember Mr. Conaway from a Bella Abzug
rally. The Times referred to his support of Bush as "thinking
across party lines".
I may be picky, but to me, looking for a diverse political
reaction in Marietta, Georgia is kind of like Bush letting
Ken Lay pick the head of FERC - which, come to think of it,
he did. So let's say it's like Bush choosing Henry Kissinger
to head a truth-finding commission - oh wait, he did that
too. Well, you get the idea.
For those picky readers interested in opinions from less
broad-minded parts of the country, I offer the results of
an informal poll of viewers I took here in Boston. Up here
where the American Revolution started opinion also covered
a wide swath, all the way from "does he really think we're
that stupid?" to "Is he on drugs?"
And, as in Marietta, opinion here crossed party lines. Ultraconservative
Republicans shared the shock and dismay of Progressive Democrats
upon hearing Mr. Bush repeatedly juxtapose "The War in Iraq"
with the terrorist attacks of 9/11 without actually making
a connection between them.
"Why does he keep doing that?" asked Roger Moore, a Republican.
"If he can prove a connection between Iraq and 9/11 why doesn't
he just come out and say so?"
Heddy Lamarr, a Green party functionary, agreed. "It's clearly
just a sneaky rhetorical device meant to mislead people. Frankly
I found it grossly insulting."
"Insulting" was also the word used by self-described "hard-right
conservative" Horatio Hornblower in recalling his reaction
to the president's claim that any change of policy in Iraq
would "encourage the terrorists". Mr. Hornblower, who owns
a chain of scented candle shops in Cambridge and who says
he is "to the right of Ivan the Terrible", thought the president
was "way out of line."
"I voted for Bush several times in the last election. But
now he's basically saying that anyone who disagrees with his
policies in Iraq is supporting the terrorists. That's an outrageous
statement. I mean, he knows that plenty of Americans disagree
- is he calling them all traitors? Heck, half the Democratic
candidates running against him - many of whom served this
country in uniform when he ducked it - have come out against
"I agree completely," said Democrat Bruce Springsteen, a
steelworker from Lincoln, MA. "He gets on national television
supposedly to inform us of the progress of the war on terror,
and he finds time to take a cheap-shot at his political rivals?
I thought he was going to be a 'uniter,' not a 'divider?'"
Support across party lines also plummeted in reaction to
Bush's statements of his intent to ask the UN to become more
involved in Iraq.
"What the hell is up with that?" asked Amber Lynn, a member
of the Know-Nothing party. "A few months ago we were calling
our allies 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys,' and now he expects
them to send their kids to Iraq to bail us out? Wouldn't it
have been smarter to involve them from the beginning?"
Springsteen agreed. "Look, this administration decided that
rather than give the UN its props and go into Iraq as an international
force, they'd go it alone. And worse, they and their supporters
played to their base by calling the UN 'irrelevant' and some
our oldest allies childish names. They even changed the name
of french toast - which is a completely American food invented
in Albany, for God's sake. Now he's saying maybe they'll forget
all that and help us out - but by the way if they don't it'll
cost at least $87 billion. Hello? Can you say 'blindingly
Hornblower summed it all up: "I may be a radical right-winger,
but I simply cannot wait to vote this clown out of office.
Heck, I'd vote for George McGovern before I'd vote for George