Friday, October 28, 2005

Commander-in-Zilch Escapes

The one thing a war lover cannot deal with is the imminence of defeat.
--John Hersey, The War Lover (1959)

It’s nothing new to anyone that this war-addled administration’s most important members—Bush, Cheney, Rove, Card, Rice—either didn’t have to serve in the military (Rice) or racked up deferments (five student and marriage deferments for Cheney) or pretended to serve in safe stateside assignments (Bush) or served in pretend-military service (Card, in the Merchant Marine from 1967 to 1968). But it’s been one of the great, dingy ironies of the administration, and of Bush in particular, that whenever the polls have needed a boost from depression or the president has needed a shield from reality, he’s donned military camouflage, flown the coop, and landed, at times literally, in seas of soldiers cheerfully choreographed to, like a support group with nothing but an hour to lose, applaud him and reassure him and let him play his commander-in-chief role the only way he can: From the safe confines of a presidential dais, on the safe grounds of an armor-plated military base or a an aircraft-carrier-turned Hollywood stage for an afternoon’s commercial at taxpayers' expense.

He’s done it again. Where was our Lord and Savior President Friday, as the special prosecutor was handing down his indictment of the vice president’s aid and teaching the White House a lesson about law-breaking, hubris, spilling life-endangering secrets of state (as opposed to, say, spilling sperm on a blue dress)? Where was the president? Recovering from his morning appearance at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia, where he repeated his now-familiar magic act about emerging peace and democracy in Iraq and winning the war on terror, to an adoring crowd camouflaged in head-over-heels love and appreciation: “…and the Commander-in-Chief is incredibly proud of you. (Applause.) And to the veterans, thanks for setting such a good example. I'm proud of your service. (Applause.)” And those five soldiers who got blown to bits in western Iraq and Baghdad yesterday? Invisible, as always. Not on the program. Nor should they be, of course. It would insult their memory to share a stage with so much canned fakery. Bush is escaping his own political funeral by tap-dancing (with rhetoric three years past its expiration date) on the graves of soldiers. Leave it to the Virginia Symphony’s “Haunted Orchestra” concert at Chrysler Hall tomorrow night to make up for the embarrassment with a scheduled performance of Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette.”