by Brry Crimmines
Reprinted from BarryCrimmins.com with permission of the author.
Before the Winter Olympics end perhaps Al Gore will be invited to Salt Lake City and made an honorary member of the Canadian Figure Skating team. If Gore, in a Maple Leaf jacket, were then surprised by a committee's announcement that it had partially reversed the outrageous decision in the 2000 US National Autumn/Winter Games and then the committee named him the 2000 Co-Gold Medalist, that would be the most memorable image to emerge from the Utah Olympics.
As things stand, Gore's nemesis has provided the Salt Lake image I'll never be able to forget -- no matter how hard I try.
On Friday February 8, George W. Bush entered the inaugural proceedings at an Olympiad that was built and funded in a manner that could make Arthur Andersen himself pinken with embarrassment. Who better than our twitchy office-taker-in-chief to welcome an assembled mass that would spend the next few weeks averting its gaze from the greed, graft and corruption that helped bring the Downhill Cumorah Pageant to Mormon City, U.S.A.? After locally flavoring the international gathering with some traditional American jingoistic remarks, Dubster made his way to his place among the U.S. delegation.
17 year-old figure skater Sasha Cohen randomly chose the seat reserved for the court-appointed president. As she moved over to make room for the world's most eloquent argument against nepotism, Cohen apologized for being such meager company for a world leader. Bush graciously said that he couldn't think of any better companion for the festivities. Cohen, who was speaking with her mother via cell phone, excitedly told Mom of her suddenly plum seating assignment. Emboldened by his friendliness, Sasha asked Bush if he'd say hello to her mother, a Ukrainian immigrant. He did. He then assured the flabbergasted mom that her daughter was behaving very well. Whether or not Mrs. Cohen asked Bush to keep his own younger female relations away from Sasha until she had passed any Olympic drug tests was not disclosed.
It was a friendly and warm story. The prez sat down next to a young skater and took time to chitchat with her mother on a cell phone. It would have been nice if we all could have listened. Considering her mother's immigrant status, maybe Kaiser Ashcroft or Fatherland Security Chief Rigid will release tapes of the impromptu moment.
Cohen, already a very recognizable member of the high profile US figure skating squad, immediately graduated to media darling status. The story of her encounter with Dubyahoo burnt up the newswires. Video of the cell phone chat bounced off satellites and into homes all over the world. The next day a breathless Cohen was taken to do an interview with NBC's Bob Costas. This was when the most indelible moment of the Salt Lake Games occurred. After recounting those parts of the story we had already heard too many times, Cohen added a detail for NBC that had escaped earlier coverage.
She told Costas that she had asked the president if he planned to stay and watch any of the athletic events. Bush said he couldn't because "I have a war to fight."
You're cringing now, aren't you? It is unclear whether or not he added "Little lady," to his swaggering exit line. Either way, the image of Bush using John Wayne rhetoric on a fawning adolescent paints a creepy picture that will always be synonymous with the Salt Lake Games.
Here was a man running a war effort, justified by the murder of innocents, that had now killed many more unoffending people than were lost on September 11. Throughout the ordeal Bush has played the crisis for political advantage. Hiding behind a logic-proof red, white and blue shield, Bush has pushed to:
- Liberate corporations from reasonable scrutiny (goodbye worker rights and environmental standards)
- Increase repression of dissent
- Called for yet another tax giveaway to the rich while the nation deficit-spends on munitions, corporate welfare and police state
His under-credited SeaWorld trainers did a magnificent job preparing Bush2 for the State of the Union Address last month. On that night he declared World War on Iran, Iraq and North Korea. In the speech he called the three nations an "Axis of Evil." With the Taliban banished and Moby bin Laden either dead or receiving dialysis treatments from Lex Luthor in some high tech cavern, W decided it was time to imply that these three wildly disparate nations had joined a ludicrously improbable alliance of evil that required immediate and violent dispersal. No matter how lifelike his handlers made him seem and regardless of his prefabbed new threats, Bush's true purpose for cacophonous saber rattling was obvious. It was meant to obscure the growing din of the Take the Money Enron scandal, a scam in which Bush's own Axis of Weasels is deeply implicated.
Not since Ronald Reagan have we had a president who is as stupid as he is evil. This explains how Bush devised and delivered his cornball yet toxic farewell to Sasha Cohen. Only a preposterously pompous dope could tell someone, even a fawning 17 year-old, "I have a war to fight" and then strut off. Even worse, this self-deluded nincompoop made the statement knowing that he had a public record of avoiding real combat in Vietnam by hiding in, and at times from, the Texas National Guard back in the Seventies. His daddy squirreled (and that is the proper verb) him away in a Guard unit peppered with the sons of Big Brother.
His father was re-upped as a human shield with the recent concealment of Junior's Texas Gubernatorial papers at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University. The cloaked documents would likely demonstrate that the Bush Axis of Weasels has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Enron for a very long time. If an upcoming court battle over the papers looks like it could lead to Texas' tight freedom of information laws actually getting enforced, don't be surprised if one of A&M's infamous pep rally bonfires tragically consumes the Bush Library. The utter shamelessness concentrated in the "I have a war to fight" comment provoked a genuine Vietnam combat vet friend of mine to respond, "That Mickey Mouse sonofabitch is lucky he never made it to Nam because he is exactly the kind of chickenshit OCS grad who real combat vets fragged on his first trip to the latrine. 'I have a war to fight!' What an asshole! Idiots like that get a lot of people killed. Nope, he wouldn't have lasted long and Charlie wouldn't have had a thing to do with it." Thirty years after ducking a fatal bowel movement in Southeast Asia, George W. Bush has the US military firing live ammunition with deadly results. To the Axis of Weasels collateral damage is just a pleasant byproduct of its ability to create an international distraction with the world's most lethal flare guns. If not for this ever-escalating battle with a murky and exaggerated enemy Bush could well find himself being gaveled out of office just the way he was gaveled in. And then we would be spared stories of how this shifty little guy tries to impress girls by portraying himself as a single-handed, he-man war-fighter.
In each stage-managed appearance Bush sells his war against an axis here and an evildoer there as if his measly political life depends on it -- because it does. Whenever GWB can get a impressionable child to speak of his sordid endeavor as if his truth is marching on, it means more time has been bought to shred and disconnect himself from a scandal that engulfs him right up to his beady little eyeballs. So even though Bush was probably leaving the Olympics so he could get back to the White House to spend the weekend watching cartoons, he foisted bombast on a child about heading off to war. This is infuriating because had W been anywhere near the violence he so desperately wants to escalate, you know he'd have ordered Air Force One from Utah to Nebraska or Poppy's Library or a National Guard Unit assigned to keep us safe from incursions by the Mexican Air Force. And he would have stayed in seclusion until Andy or Gomer or Cheney told him it was safe to come out again.
George W. Bush has a war to fight. And I have a lunch to lose.
Barry Crimmins is a political satirist and writer. More of his work can be found at http://www.barrycrimmins.com
©2002 Barry Crimmins