Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Monkey Shines

Filed under: Constructive Criticism — MrBogle @ 4:06 pm
When I was a kid, everybody loved chimpanzees. The Today Show had J. Fred Muggs. Reagan had Bonzo. Toby Tyler had Mr. Stubbs. Zippy the chimp could be found hanging with everyone from Ed Sullivan to Howdy Doody. Heck, Cheetah even cracked Tarzan up! We liked funny chimps because they made us laugh.

What nobody knew, of course, that chimps forced to dwell too long in the world of humans often displayed odd character traits. They shrieked, spit and sometimes bit. When all else failed, they crapped in their hands and flung it.

Which, somehow, brings us to Bush’s interaction with the press this past week; indeed, with the American people.

On Presidents’ Day, standing in front of George Washington’s home, he grinned (as bombs went off in Baghdad): “I feel right at home here. After all, this is the home of the first George W. I thank President Washington for welcoming us, today. He doesn’t look a day over 275 years old.”

Aheh-heh. Stop it! You’re killing us! Literally!

He also likened America’s Revolutionary War to his War on Terror, not quite getting the fact that, in the first war mentioned, Americans were the guerilla fighters battling the occupiers.

Crap, anyone?

Bush began flinging it in earnest last week, hot on the heels of a botched “off the record” U.S. presentation linking the Iranian government to Iraqi insurgents via weaponry. When many of his military leaders responded with a ‘WTF?’ chorus, Bush decided to stage one of his kamikaze press events: gatherings to prove that he’s still in charge (although, at this point, nobody is quite sure of what) and that he’s on top of whatever situation he chooses to ignore.

In terms of Iraq, he immediately got the White House press corps and the American populace in an upbeat mood by dropping such bunker busting bon mots as: “The operation to secure Baghdad is going to take time, and there will be violence.”

And: “If you think the violence is bad now, imagine what it would look like if we don’t help them secure the city, the capital city of Baghdad.

“I fully recognize we’re not going to be able to stop all suicide bombers. I know that.”

And, the always cheerful: “You know, victory in Iraq is not going to be like victory in World War II. It’s one of the challenges I have to explain to the American people what Iraq will look like in a situation that will enable us to say we have accomplished our mission.

“First, the — Iraq will be a society in which there is relative peace. I say ‘relative peace’ because if it’s like zero car bombings, it never will happen that way.”

So, we’re sending in a surge of troops to make sure that car bombings only occur on odd numbered days of the year?

On the Iranian/Iraqi insurgent connection, when confronted by the fact that even General Peter Pace said there was no way of knowing where Iranian munitions came from, be it the black market or Tehran, Bush twitched and replied: “What we do know is that the (Iranian) Quds force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq. We know that. And we also know that the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. That’s a known. What we don’t know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did.

“But here’s my point: Either they knew or didn’t know, and what matters is, is that they’re there. What’s worse, that the government knew or that the government didn’t know? But the point I made in my initial speech in the White House about Iraq was, is that we know they’re there and we’re going to protect our troops.”

The reporters in attendance arched their eyebrows, rolled their eyes and dropped their jaws in a synchronized manner that could actually qualify as a future Olympic event.

Bush, moments later, tried to clear things up: “I can say with certainty that the Quds force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops. And I’d like to repeat, I do not know whether or not the Quds force was ordered from the top echelons of government. But my point is what’s worse — them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening? And so we will continue to protect our troops.”

There was a collective ‘WTF?’ visual moment from those in attendance.

A moment later, Bush definitively cleared up the issue, stating: “…and I told you, I was confident that the Quds force, a part of the Iranian government, was providing weaponry into Iraq. And to say it is provoking Iran is just a wrong way to characterize the Commander-in-Chief’s decision to do what is necessary to protect our soldiers in harm’s way. And I will continue to do so.”

Bush’s explaination was the verbal equivalent of Cheetah jumping up and down in place, while shrieking and slapping himself over the head with both hands. Unfortunately, neither Tarzan nor Jane was there to calm him down. Not even Tony Snow.

When asked, a minute later, if the American people could trust this new intelligence – intelligence that eerily resembled the solid stuff that led up to the Iraqi invasion (and is rumored to be based on a study of Magic Eight Ball technology as well as conversations with a Gypsy woman named Bernice), Bush looked steamed: “I can’t say it more plainly: there are weapons in Iraq that are harming U.S. troops because of the Quds force. And as you know, I hope, that the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. Whether Ahmadinejad ordered the Quds force to do this, I don’t think we know. But we do know that they’re there, and I intend to do something about it. And I’ve asked our commanders to do something about it. And we’re going to protect our troops.”

Reporter: “But given some of contradictions, Mr. President…”

Bush: “There’s no contradiction that the weapons are there and they were provided by the Quds force.”

Reporter: “What assurances can you give the American people that the intelligence this time will be accurate?”

Bush: “Ed, we know they’re there, we know they’re provided by the Quds force. We know the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. I don’t think we know who picked up the phone and said to the Quds force, go do this, but we know it’s a vital part of the Iranian government.

“What matters is, is that we’re responding. The idea that somehow we’re manufacturing the idea that the Iranians are providing IEDs is preposterous. My job is to protect our troops. And when we find devices that are in that country that are hurting our troops, we’re going to do something about it, pure and simple.”

Fortunately, Bush didn’t actually bite anyone.

Nor did he cover his eyes, bare his teeth, shake his head from side to side and scream “eeeek, eeeek, eeeek.”

But it was close, as he hovered in a zone existing somewhere between Zippy the chimp and Zippy the pin-head.

Now, words can’t accurately describe Bush’s performance before the cameras, a combination of snark and psychosis. He blinked, sneered, laughed, smirked, squinted, licked his lips and clutched the podium while curling up one leg behind him and raising it up on its tippy-toe in quite the coquettish manner.

He also showed great disdain for the reporters, tweaking them about their jobs and their equipment as well as their questions. Here’s an exchange with one reporter who asked our Zippy-in-chief to comment, not on the Libby trial per se, but on the other three (then) Bush staffers who also leaked the name of Valerie Plame to the press.

“Thanks, Pete. I’m not going to talk about any of it.”

“They’re not under investigation, though.”

Peeved, Bush replied: “Pee-ter. I’m not going to talk about any of it.”

“How about pardons, sir? Many people are asking whether you might pardon…”

In full frat house mode, now, Bush smirked: “Not going to talk about it, Peter. Would you like to think of another question? Being the kind man that I am, I will recycle you.” (Aheh-heh.)

As the uncomfortable audience tittered, Bush grinned at one attendee. “You like that one? ‘Recycling’ him.”

When asked about holding talks with Iran, Bush replied in a singsong voice: “This is a world in which people say, meeeet – sit down and meeeet.”

So, I’m guessing no-one’s meeeeting soon.

Told by one reporter that, in interviews with troops on the ground, he found that morale over the Iraqi invasion is flagging, Bush said: “What I hear from commanders is that the place where there is concern is with the family members; that our troops, who have volunteered to serve the country, are willing to go into combat multiple times, but that the concern is with the people on the home front…I know there’s concern about the home front. I haven’t heard deep concern about the morale of the troops in Iraq.”

If you think that last comment suggests that Banana Boy is still in his infamous bubble, check out this response to the question “Do you think there’s a civil war in Iraq?”

Flashing a Bonzo smile, Bush stated: “It’s hard for me, living in this beautiful White House to give you an assessment, firsthand assessment. I haven’t been there. (Note: So, the phony turkey Thanksgiving trip was done in a phony location?) You have. I haven’t. But I do talk to people who are and people whose judgment I trust, and they would not qualify it as that. There are others who think it is. It is, however, a dangerous situation, thereby requiring action on my part.”

When in doubt, shout ‘Ungowa!’

Bush’s last bit of snappy patter prompted Keith Olbermann to remark that Bush was admitting “he is isolated inside the confines of the White House, so much so he does not really know what is going on in Iraq, never mind that he’s commander in chief, including whether or not that conflict is civil war.”


A guest on Olbermann’s show, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, suggested: “Clearly he doesn’t want to call it a civil war, because if he does, Democrats are going to argue, ‘Well, we didn’t authorize the dispatching of American troops to that part of the world to preside over a civil war.’

“So that’s the reason he shied away from it. Professing his own ignorance, however charming he was trying to be, wasn’t a very good way to do it. And his allies outside the White House cringed when they saw that.”

During his non-news conference, Bush also dissed those who are dissing his new “surge” idea (before they even know whether it’s a success or not) and, in a somewhat Freudian slip, admitted: “I’ve listened to a lot of voices; people in my administration heard a lot of voices.”

That would explain sooo much.

Meanwhile, Bush’s monkey madness was spreading, with Republicans beating the tribal drums, accusing anyone who opposed the new General Custer surge of, not only aiding the enemy, but killing troop morale by even bringing up the concept of a Congressional debate.

Again, Olbermann: “To anyone with a brain or faith bigger than a walnut it remains a mystery why anyone would think democracy’s vital signs, debate, dissent and disagreement, would demoralize defenders of democracy, the men and women of America’s armed forces, but that is a central claim of those who argue that true Americans would not question the president’s deployments of those troops, presumably any deployment of those troops.”

Highlighting the senseless scrambling of the Republican simian suck-ups was the fact that while hawks John McCain and Joe Lieberman were claiming that, per their recent trip to Iraq, U.S. troops were supporting the surge, Fox’s Ollie North, also a recent returnee, claimed that these guys were both full o’ crap. North spoke to the same troops on the ground in Iraq and claimed that U.S. forces didn’t want any part of it.

Paul Rieckhoff, author of “Chasing Ghosts,” and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, weighed in on “Countdown,” “Everybody I talked to inside Iraq, and most of the people coming home, who have come home in recent months, don‘t support the surge because they don‘t think it will work. An increase in troop numbers, especially this small level, is not going to be the silver bullet solution to all our problems in Iraq.

“And the administration hasn‘t listened to any of the generals throughout this war, so what makes anyone think that now they are going to start going down to the sergeants and lieutenants, who are at the tip of the spear and kicking in doors every day? They are not talking to the troops on the ground, because they don‘t support this, and surprisingly, Oliver North gets that.”

Asked about debate hurting U.S. troop morale, Rieckhoff said, bluntly: “I think it‘s a (political) shield for a flawed policy and I’m personally offended by it. You know, the troops are not anybody’s political chew toy. We’re not somebody you can just throw back and forth, or some kind of a political shield. We are tough. We are taking mortar fire, there are roadside bombs going off. We are going back for repeated deployments. Those are the things that affect morale profoundly, not what Trent Lott or Nancy Pelosi is saying back home.

“The reason guys like me join the military is to preserve that free right to have a real dissent and a real debate about the most important issue facing our country. That is why we joined the military. It’s why we take up arms, to defend exactly that type of right. So I think it is a really dangerous road to go down when it comes to the political dialogue.”

A few days after both Bush’s monkeyshines and Rieckhoff’s comments, the Republican pols of the Apes, shrieked, spit, bit and flung their crap in the Senate, shutting down any real debate about Bush’s last stand. They wrapped themselves in the flag and called all would-be debaters cowards and troop dissers.

(Then, they went home to try to bash gays and undercut middle-class workers even further. Taa-daa!)

Get your hands off my government, you damned, dirty apes!

Meanwhile, on the chimp’n’chief front, on Presidents’ Day, Bonzo, waxing eloquently about President George Washington’s legacy, intoned, “After winning the war, Washington did what victorious leaders rarely did at the time. He voluntarily gave up power.”

Hey! That’s an idea! Dubya? Just declare the war over and move on, okay? Give us all a break. There’s too much monkey business going on, these days.

I mean, as much as the world loves the funny things chimps do, nobody is laughing, anymore.

Except you.


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