Straight up the union

President vows to increase security against a sudden attack of humanitarianism.


Joyce McGreevy
January 27, 2004 1:30AM (UTC)

To signal awareness of "the environment," President Bush recycled a petrified turkey in the form of his State of the Union address at the Capitol last Tuesday. Previously, Bush had offered the fake-food centerpiece to hungry troops during his Thanksgiving Day visit to Iraq.

Bush countered charges that the fake turkey was hollow by revealing that it was stuffed with pork, then seasoned with whatever Bush was smoking when he announced that because of tax cuts, "this economy is strong, and growing stronger..." As evidence, he noted that "jobs are on the rise," an allusion to his upcoming "Gigs in Space" program.

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Other dishes on the menu included:

Leave No Child Unmaligned: To clarify what he meant by educational testing, President Bush proposed $23 million in funding for schools to conduct drug investigations on children. Finally, a common-sense answer to one of life's greatest mysteries: What do you give the school district that has nothing? Urine cups for all! By preventing children from "gambling their lives and futures on drugs," while streamlining their basic needs, more lives and futures will be available for an administration to gamble on war.

We've Got Plenty of Nothing: In keeping with the current vogue for accentuating the positive -- lest anyone evince unseemly anger at being collectively held down, used and then thrown away -- the president thoughtfully made no mention that virtually every state in the union has been forced to enact drastic budget cuts to social services. Instead he assured us that he would cut the deficit in half, fund the war, and meet domestic needs by "limiting growth in discretionary spending." This is short for "With luck, you may not live long enough to feel the pain." And there was more good news. Young workers will be allowed to use their own shredding machines as safety deposit boxes for their Social Security.

God Really is "Dog" Spelled Backward: Evoking a bestial beatitude, the president announced, "It is also important to strengthen our communities by unleashing the compassion of America's religious institutions." Anticipating the full onslaught of goodness envisioned by the hounds of heaven, many argue that church and state go together about as well as pit and bull. But the president showed a dogged determination to hand over the state and its citizenry to any churches that might wish to sink their compassionate teeth into them.

This should help the president safeguard the sanctity of marriage from those who, unlike his brother Neil, fail to appreciate that marriage is a union of a man, a woman, and whoever shows up at the man's hotel room.

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To help train citizens to roll over and play dead as hate-, I mean faith-based initiatives get paid to save souls and swell the ranks of conservative voters, the president made repeated references to God, faith and religion. He also took pains to acknowledge social service providers that have "a crescent on the wall," a right neighborly little shout-out to Muslim Americans that should more than make up for the erosions of their basic privacy rights and personal liberty under the PATRIOT Act.

Speaking of which...

I'll Be Screening You: To set the tone for his conclusion that our country is being guided by a "greater power" whose "purposes are just and true" (and classified), the president assured us at the top of his address that "analysts are examining airline passenger lists." But give credit where credit is due. Let us not fail to thank JetBlue Airways and Northwest Airlines for reportedly supplying passenger data, without which the government might have had to do its own violating of federal and state laws, thus taking time away from the important business of detaining readers of the Farmer's Almanac.

Such joint efforts shed light on the meaning of the president's words that "we now move forward with confidence." As those of us who spent an unusually long time going through security screening at Des Moines Airport the day after the Democratic Caucus can attest - and many who missed their flights may still be available for on-the-spot interviews - we can be confident that our confidences will be thoroughly noted, reported and analyzed, and that we will enjoy the opportunity to pay for this violation of our civil rights not only through our tax dollars but also through our private dollars, among other tolls. If that doesn't make you whistle while you work mandatory unpaid overtime, what will?

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The Job of Growth: No doubt it was modesty that caused the president to refrain from boasting that during the entire month of December an average of 20 jobs per state was created. These dramatic results, offset only by a loss of 22,000 jobs per month since November 2001 -- clearly justify the president's desire to:

  • Make tax cuts permanent for big campaign contributors.
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  • "Open up new markets for America's entrepreneurs" to send millions more jobs offshore.
  • Stop "the death tax [from coming] back to life" and haunting defenseless billionaires.
  • Drive down already pitiful wages of existing jobs.
  • Use workers' own high productivity to eradicate their livelihoods.
  • Award no-bid contracts to politically connected corporations.
  • Offer a tax deduction for the cost of inadequate health insurance to workers who still couldn't afford it.
  • Train people for jobs that aren't there.
  • Support Our Troops: Who would not be moved by the greeting-card language directed to a 10-year-old girl named Ashley? It was a pleasant change from the president's science fiction of the year before. Now is apparently the time for all good men -- and also President Bush -- to speak softly. But while some grant Bush poetic license to kill, some families of those put in harm's way passed up the chance to listen to pretty words.

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    That same night, Military Families Speak Out formed a human chain on the Mall in Washington. Each person bore the name of a soldier who died in Iraq and held a candle to symbolize the light of that person's life. Along the line were persons bearing the names of Iraqi civilians. They bore witness to these lost lives as the president and VIPs drove by on their way to the Capitol.

    As President Bush began his State of the Union speech, a banner with the following 16 words was unfurled: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." With that, military families began a death march down the line of lights. As it moved, a drum sounded and people called out the name of each fallen soldier and Iraqi. The candle was then extinguished to symbolize that President Bush's words brought death to this person and cast a pall of darkness over the nation.

    So, for all of you who couldn't attend the State of the Union address because you were busy pointing out that a lie killed your loved ones, or because your repeated requests for leave from Iraq continue to be denied, or because (despite paying for your own safety equipment and sandbagging the un-reinforced doors of your Humvee) you got killed anyway -- Darn. You missed a heartwarming performance.

    Yes, it was truly a night to rally the troops.

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    Joyce McGreevy

    Joyce McGreevy is a writer in Portland, Ore.

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