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JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: THE DEVIL AND GEORGIE BUSH   Leave a comment

THE DEVIL AND GEORGIE BUSH

The Real Story behind a Possible Second Term

John Chuckman

George Bush sits quietly at his desk in the Oval Office. Suddenly, with a puff of acrid, yellow smoke, a dark figure appears at his shoulder, arrogantly leaning an elbow against the back corner of the big leather chair. He wears a soot-stained stovepipe hat, a rumpled, dusty suit, and his whiskered, rather cherubic face has an almost benign smile as he gazes down.

“Ahem, ah, Mr. President, I do believe we have some business?”

Although he immediately recognizes the figure, the President is astonished at this sudden appearance. With his face drained of color, he reaches instinctively for the hidden buzzer to the Secret Service at the edge of his desk.

“Mr. President, all those gadgets have been disabled. Surely, by now, you have more respect for my powers than that?

“Oh,” with a rude little chuckle, “and until we’ve transacted our business, no one will be able to come through the door.”

“Mr. Scratch, I meant no disrespec’…”

“I’m sure, Mr. President.”

“It’s what they all taught me to do if anyone’s here, ya know, without an appointment an’ all…”

“Yes, quite, Mr. President. Now, about our business…”

“But ain’t there more’an two years left on ma contract?”

“Ah, indeed, two years, one month, eleven days, and fifty-four minutes, to be exact.” The dark figure reaches out, and, again with a sulphurous little puff of smoke, a sheet of paper appears in his hand. He reaches down and waves it in front of the President’s face.
“Perhaps, you would care to review the terms, Mr. President?”

“I’m sure you’re right, Mr. Scratch, you’re mighty careful ’bout these things.”

“Careful, indeed, Mr. President, which brings me to the point of my little visit.
As you know, the original contract was for seven years.”

The President, his face withered and frightened, mechanically shakes his head in agreement.

“And then there was the matter of an extension we negotiated?”

The President again shakes his head.

“And I trust there’s no disagreement about the party of the second part,” with another gruff chuckle, “that’s me, having met fully all terms agreed?”

Still another doleful shake of the head.

“It says here, ‘One George W. Bush, having succeeded at virtually nothing in his adult lifetime, except getting into a whole lot of embarrassing trouble, fighting with his family, and consuming inordinate amounts of alcohol, in return for certain services, specified below, promises his immortal soul to the said Mr. Scratch,’ that is,” chuckle, chuckle, “yours truly.”

Here the figure makes a slight flourish, briefly doffing his hat and creating a small cloud of soot.

“Services rendered in return,” clearing his throat, “Ah, just summarizing here, Mr. President, include making a killing on a baseball team, becoming governor of Texas, and in general having gained recognition for turning around a worthless life.”

The figure looks down at the President with a somewhat twisted smile.

“Yielding you, I might add, boundless goodwill from legions of pious-fraud fundamentalists. Is that not right, Mr. President?”

Again, almost like a sleepwalker responding to unseen voices, the President shakes his head.

“The extension to the contract assured your becoming – you’ll note, Mr. President, the very careful language about ‘becoming,’ with nothing said about ‘being elected’ – President of the United States.”

Another dull shake of the head.

“Well, it doesn’t allow for a second term, now does it, Mr. President?”

“Mr. Scratch, I jus’ reckoned when ya consider the kinda president I been…”

“You mean loosing the forces of war, ignorance, and misery upon the world?”

“Why, sure, ain’t I done a good job on that?”

“Agreed, Mr. President, but I wouldn’t expect anything else of a man who’s made the kind of bargain you have.

“You’ll recall, when we negotiated the extension, that you wanted credit for all the prisoners executed in Texas. And all the slimy business deals you winked at, defrauding all kinds of decent folks. I admit such activity keeps good trade coming my way, but, strictly speaking, Mr. President, they just aren’t part of our terms.”

“But look’it the stuff we’re doin’. We’re redesignin’ the country. Givin’ it back to the folks what owns it, an’ armin’ ’em to the teeth so’s they kin keep it. Ya can’t go makin’ omelets like that without breakin’ a mighty heap of eggs. Why, I kin guarantee it’ll mean years of misery for all them losers out there.”

“Again, Mr. President, I hate to be like one of your heartless corporate contributors, but that’s just not part of our deal. No, No, what you do with the office I gave you is up to you.”

“But surely, Mr. Scratch, recognizin’ what a great job I’m doin’ here for you, we could come to some understandin’ ’bout another li’le extension?”

“Well, I see what it is you want from me, Mr. President, but it just fails me what you’re offering that I don’t already have. The contract states clearly that the immortal soul of one George W. Bush is to be delivered up promptly at expiration….”

“Ain’t there nothin’ I kin do for an extension, Mr. Scratch?

“Ah, that desperate, pleading tone does appeal to my better side. Come to think of it, there just may be, Mr. President.”

The President regains some color, and, for the first time, there’s some animation in his manner, “Yes, yes, what is it?”

“Well, I’m not so sure you’ll share my enthusiasm for the idea.”

Looking like a puppy about to be handed a treat, “Mr. Scratch, I’ll do jus’ ’bout anythin’, honest to God!

A severe, disapproving look flashes across the dusty figure’s face.

“Oh, I’m mighty sorry ’bout that, but like I said, I’ll do jus’ ’bout anythin’.”

“I do like your attitude, and I’ll note it in my little book.

“Mr. President, it does bother me considerably that a mob of evangelical frauds in silk suits – you know the ones I mean, there isn’t one of them not headed my way when their days of fleecing lonely folks watching television are ended – get all the credit for your conversion. You and I both know the truth of the matter. I would be strongly tempted,” ha, ha, “to further extend your contract in return for a promise to tell people the truth.”

The President again turns ashen, “I jus’ don’t see how that’s possible, Mr. Scratch?”

“Oh, I don’t insist you just go and blurt it out. You may do it slowly over a period of time. You may use all the arts of twisting the truth, so long as in the end this one truth comes out. That doesn’t seem like too great a task for the caliber of people you’ve surrounded yourself with.”

“But, Mr. Scratch, how kin I tell folks I made a deal with the devil?”

“Well, given your resources and past record of achievement, I do not see an insurmountable barrier. A lot of folks will have already guessed the truth. It’s the ones that roll around in church aisles babbling incoherently or go to meetings to get slapped in the head to heal cancer that are going to be a might difficult to reach. But these are your people, and you are, after all, asking a great service of me. I rarely extend contracts. Two extensions is almost unheard of.”

“But suit yourself, Mr. President. Right now it’s the only offer that would entice me,” chuckle, chuckle, “into so extraordinary an act.”

“I, I jus’ don’t see…”

“As you please, Mr. President. I will claim what’s mine on the stroke of midnight two years, one month, eleven days, and forty nine minutes, hence, unless, of course, you see your way to improving my image with the public. After all, it’s no small miracle I’ve worked in your case. People just might look at me in a whole new light if they only knew the truth.”

“But…but…”

“I’ll leave it at that, Mr. President. You can let me know anytime right up until expiration. Just snap your fingers twice and consider it done for a second term.”

The dark figure instantly disappears in another puff of acrid smoke.

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: WHY REPUBLICANS HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR   2 comments

WHY REPUBLICANS HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR

John Chuckman

It may have something to do with a life spent scowling, years of squeezing facial muscles and lips so tightly the skin comes to resemble cracked swollen grapes. It may relate to the hemorrhoid-inducing strains of bad potty training, although research is unclear as to whether this is a cause or an effect. “Not sparing the rod” may play a role – you can’t look into the hard-boiled-egg face of Second-Lady, Lynne Cheney, without thinking about Sam Spade slapping around uncooperative witnesses. But I wouldn’t insist on the point. Her face may just reflect explosively-high blood pressure. Or an abnormally large spleen.

There may be a genetic basis for many of the large divisions of human nature – not for all the details and refinements, but for the basic dichotomies, such as optimism and pessimism, open to new ideas or close-minded, generous or greedy, smiling or sour, peaceful or violent. I certainly don’t know this to be the case, but it seems a plausible hypothesis.

So I do think it possible there is a genetic basis for Republicanism. It is difficult otherwise to explain why the same mix of traits turns up over and over – greedy, narrow, sour, and lacking in humor, always excepting for the kind of sophomoric stuff mumbled and stumbled over by a pretzel-challenged President.

Whatever the cause, it is an easily confirmed observation that Republicans have no sense of humor. I’m sure there are readers – especially the ones that send me notes advising that J.K. Rowling is a pseudonym of Beelzebub – now thinking, “Then how do you explain Rush Limbaugh?”

Well, this just proves my point. If that is your idea of a sense of humor, you have none. The words of “Naziism with a Friendly Face,” as Rush is warmly known to closeted Hitler-Jugend and aspiring pimply-faced predator-entrepreneurs across the United States, provide a sure test for lack of humor. If he makes you laugh, you have a problem. Or, rather, the country has a problem if there are enough of you.

If Republicans had a sense of humor, they’d laugh their own leadership off the platform. The party’s Washington mob could be the cast of extras from one of those old Hammer Studio horror films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Scary, ugly and dopey – all at the same time.

Strom “The Living Corpse” Thurmond: It is reliably reported that a Senate page is assigned, full time, to yank sash cords from a secret room in the Senate basement that run up Strom’s pants, attach to his jaw, and make his mouth move. Strom is no dummy though, having been granted several honorary degrees from Bob Jones University

Tom “The Roach Exterminator” DeLay: Here is a man who almost certainly ingested too much rat and roach powder while working as a pest exterminator in Texas, the kind of entrepreneurial experience deemed, in that neck of the woods, as fully qualifying you for a career in national politics. Tom fancies himself a Constitutional scholar though, always carrying a folded-up copy of the sacred text in his back pocket and showing some adeptness at its interpretation. The only trouble is it’s the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.

Trent “Prancey Boy” Lott (a.k.a. “Big Hair”): This former star agricultural-college cheerleader still performs at private benefits on behalf of the George Wallace Memorial Chapter for the Preservation of our Glorious Confederate Heritage. If you want to catch him going through his moves, book early – they’re always sell-out crowds.

Dennis “The Crusher” Hastert: Nick-named in recognition of his tireless efforts on behalf of election-finance reform as well as his remarkable resemblance to one of those WWF plastic dolls, a man said by some to suffer from extended exposure to crop dusting in southern Illinois.

And that barely scratches the surface for miserable, threadbare material in the Republican Party.

We have Jesse “Don’t Tread on Me” Helms: He represents the one known species of viper that weird Carolina fundamentalists avoid using in their snake-handling acts.

Newt “Hydrophobia” Gingrich: Almost resembling a very large Kewpie doll in a business suit, Newt seems quite innocuous until he displays his piranha-like smile and suddenly strikes with rows of glittering razor-teeth. The Beanie Baby version of Newt has been declared hazardous for children.

Phil “As my ol’ Mama said, ‘Some gotta clim’ down outta the wagon…’ ” Gramm. This guy’s failure to put together a wad of dough as big as the one that made Bush president, spared generations of school kids from memorizing mind-numbing quotes off the sides of a giant marble wagon in Washington.

Bob “The U.S. government’s running a damned concentration camp down there in Washington, an’ they got Elian locked up in it!” Smith. Smith does have a certain gentility, earning him the epithet, “New England’s Own Big Bubba.” Big Bubba’s career heroic moment was quitting the party, not for anything so unrewarding as principle, but so he could be lured back with a committee position. His feat of crawling back to Washington over the rocky New England landscape is the stuff of Republican legend.

Bob “I want Ron and Nancy stuffed and put in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian!” Barr. The acerbic Barr has a tender side, he has been known to weep openly at the sight of a bowl of jelly beans. Former associates at the CIA still affectionately refer to him as the Agency’s Nincompoop Quota.

Henry “The Two-Ton Hypocrite” Hyde. Well, at least Bush’s “youthful indiscretions” stopped, instead of starting, at forty. Hyde, a consummate ham actor, gave his most memorable performance in the role of noble, white-maned statesman heroically struggling against the forces of reason, good sense, and good taste to cast down an elected President over a dribble on a dress. In his own mind, he was repeating the magic of Charles Laughton in Advise and Consent.

And, we have a new star in the Republican firmament since September 11, John “Speaks in Tongues” Ashcroft. Here is today’s indispensable man. In the course of years rolling around on the dirt floors of revival tents in Missouri, blubbering incomprehensibly, he gained immense insight into fundamentalist financial networks that he now applies to the damned heathen fundamentalists who believe the wrong fundamentals.

Of course, with a party that doesn’t think there should be a government – just a contracted-out private army with an unlimited budget for weapons from Fortune 500 companies plus a secret-police network whose computers hook-up to every home (this last is a self-funded scheme from the sale to corporations of the greatest stash of intimate, personal marketing data ever assembled) – such ballot choices are not terribly surprising. But still, even this partial roll call provides powerful evidence of a complete lack of humor.

Just as I was about to complete this important piece of investigative journalism, the following item came in on the wire from a large Eastern research facility. I believe it requires no additional comment.

IMPORTANT NEW FINDING!

Important new research has made a startling discovery. Autopsies on the brains of hundreds of cadavers have revealed that  the vestigial bit of reptilian brain long known to exist in all humans is three times larger than normal in Republicans.

Preliminary follow-up work with MRIs on living Republicans not only confirms the finding but indicates a dominant role in many of their brain functions.