Firehouse Visit, Bush Announces End to Fire Threat, Slides Down
Pole Wearing Helmet
Satire by David Albrecht
York, N.Y., 18 October 2003 President George W. Bush,
in an aggressive effort to reverse a recent slide in his approval
ratings, today visited a New York fire station and announced
that "the American people have defeated the threat and fear
of fire," before donning a fireman's bunker coat and helmet
and sliding down a brass pole.
"For many years,' the president stated, 'Americans have fought
tirelessly against this capricious and destructive force both
in their homes and in their workplaces. But today, I am proud
to announce that the terrorist threat of fire is no longer
a menace to the peace and security of the United States of
America." The president spoke to an audience of campaign contributors
at a lower Manhattan fire station specially prepared for his
visit. A large red banner hung behind his podium, prominently
displaying the message "Threat Extinguished."
Bush spoke of the concerted efforts his new Office of Faith
Against Fire (OFAF) has made in the past few months. "Its
hard work has paid off. Americans are now fully aware that
fire is hot and dangerous. Americans are now more conscious
than ever of the fact that fire safety is in their hands -
and in God's - and that God is not neutral in the struggle.
The introduction of OFAF has, according to the president,
made it possible for city and local governments to save billions
of dollars in staffing and equipment costs that had been dedicated
President Bush also spoke of his plans to further streamline
remaining emergency services. Under the provisions of the
America Prays Against Fire Act, local governments will be
allowed to privatize remaining emergency services and to replace
current employees with low-cost immigrant laborers under a
new visa program, allowing further savings for cash-strapped
municipalities. "The era of heavy-handed regulation and expensive
mandates in public safety is over. God knows that market forces
provide a better way. In fact, He told me so."
At the conclusion of his remarks, the president went to the
second floor of the station, where he donned the bunker coat,
boots and helmet of a firefighter killed in the attacks on
the World Trade Center. He then leapt out to grasp the brass
pole leading to the first floor truck bay, and slid deftly
down. "Whee!" he exclaimed, "This is fun!"
Many members of the Washington press corps predicted that
this would become the defining moment in the president's reelection
campaign. MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews stated that "The
Democratic contenders may as well hang it up now." Fox News
analyst Fred Barnes explained the irresistible appeal of the
firehouse visit. "Howard Dean may be the last angry Democrat,
and John Kerry may be a combat veteran. But those qualifications
- if you can call them that - don't matter any more. After
seeing the way President Bush grasped that pole with his firm
thighs and muscular arms, voters know that this is a man who
can and will lead America to victory, both in the War on Terror
and the War on Fire."
Although a few hundred firefighters and their family members
protested the president's visit, security concerns led the
Secret Service to confine their demonstration to a special
First Amendment zone in Camden, New Jersey.