So I'm at home yesterday. The kids are off playing or taking turns jumping off the roof or whatever it is they do when they're not bothering me and I find myself alone for those scant few minutes between homework and dinner, just me and my TV. Checking to make sure the kids weren't on their way downstairs, I started flipping around the channels looking for some light afternoon titillation. Nothing pornographic, just something to inspire a few impure thoughts, a little flush about the cheek, maybe a light patina of perspiration.
As usual when this mood strikes me, I found myself on C-SPAN. I know, cliché, right? But come on, is there anything more chastely sexy than a four-hour block of programming covering every single second (including sound check, intermissions and the custodial staff suggestively stacking chairs afterward) of an 8-member panel in a hotel conference room discussing trade policy and/or yet another book about Aaron Burr? I don't think so. I'm getting a little flustered just typing it.
Imagine my chagrin, then, when C-SPAN's regular programming was pre-empted by some speech from the president. Suffice it to say, it wasn't really what I was looking for. But then I saw the speech was going to happen in that room with the red carpet and the row of flags on either side and I got sort of excited, though in a totally different, slow-down-to-see-the-car-accident kind of a way. This is the room presidents do press conferences from. Excellent.
Bush is announced and he strolls up to the podium to... wild, sustained applause? What the fuck, press corps? They can't all
be Fox News. Bush starts with the welcomes and the introductions and my day just gets worse: no questions, no press, just a regular speech.
But then he started talking and man... that dude was pissed off about something. In my observations, there are two modes the president has when he's giving a speech. One is the Dear-God-Just-Let-Me-Get-Through-This-So-I-Can-Get-The-Fuck-Out-Of-Here mode; George W at his punch-card worst. The other mode is the one he was in last night, the Hey-This-Stuff-My-Staff-Just-Tole-Me-To-Read-Is-Some-Badass-Shit mode with lots of two-handed podium grabbing, leaning in for emphasis on the points he thinks are most necessary for us to understand with regard to his administration's awesomeness (e.g. "terrorism is bad") and the classic Bushian punctuation-by-overenunciation. When he's really exercised and engaged, it's like he's talking to a third-grade remedial reading workshop. That was his mode last night. Bush was on.
For those of you who missed all the vital information from last night, I will provide for you a rundown of the criticals with some interspersed mood commentary.We shouldn't worry about the torture of prisoners in US custody because there is ample oversight from both the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency.
"Khalid Sheik Mohammed" is a really long name. You could almost hear his staffers at the run-through going "Fuck, just say KSM if you can't fucking get it!" And then being immediately shipped off to Gitmo. Also: Bush gives nicknames even to people he hates. Ain't that folksy!
At one point, some prankster on his staff managed to slip in about seven pages from a Tom Clancy novel, which Bush whisked through without skipping a beat. And not one of the good early ones either, I mean one of the later Tom Clancy novels where he's less focused on character than he is in being paid by the word.
Terrorist plots to get hold of biological weapons foiled. What I want to know is where were the CIA and DOJ ten years ago when a stealth campaign to spread an infectious agent amongst an unknowing public was being perpetrated in my dorm wing? Damn you, Janine Shepholder. Chlamydia might not be deadly, but giving it to six different guys has to be some kind of war-crime. I hope you're rotting in a CIA prison as we speak.
When Constitutional checks and balances work, the terrorists win. The Supreme Court found fault with the unilateral secret detention of people and the subsequent organization of a kangaroo court to try them. Now Bush has got to go to Congress--to Congress!--to try and get something done he and Dick Cheney and Jesus should have been able to implement without reference to anyone or anything else. This will teach W to tell people about stuff. Also: Supreme Court probably all communists.
Dangerous terrorists to be transferred to Guantanamo Bay. And everyone in the room claps. Send the bad people where we can't torture them and you clap? Why does the whole audience hate America?
OK, the CIA prisons were rough, but Gitmo is a picture of incarceratorial perfection. There's a rubberized indoor all-weather running track (around which prisoners are chased by unclean non-halal wild boars), a cherry-wood steam room (in which prisoners can be locked for days at a time) and an Olympic sized swimming pool (you know, for the waterboarding). Even one foreign inspector said the prison there was better than any prison in his own country. Unfortunately that was the delegate from 12th century Turkey. And he was being sarcastic.
The president was happy to announce that there are currently no terrorists currently left in CIA custody. A single tear rolled down his cheek.
We try and we try to comply with the Geneva convention... did he just roll his eyes? I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was a contact lens thing.
International rules against torture are too vague. If it doesn't specifically say we can't sew a live ferret into someone's abdominal cavity, is it fair game? We just don't have enough information.
Congress will have to draft a law outlining what constitutes torture. My guess is they will measure the angle at which John McCain can lift his arms. Any injury that results in an extension-angle equal to or lesser than that degree is torture. We have to be careful lest all the terrorists become senators.
Protect our interrogators from lawsuits against the detained terrorists. What about wrongfully detained non-terrorists? Oh yes, presumption of innocence is a quaint Enlightenment notion.
At the end, the non-press clap and Angry George melts into a smile. It seems weird because of the subject matter of the speech, but at this point the smirk is involuntary. The first 40 years of his life, he only got applause for his remarkable keg-stand abilities. You'd smirk too.
I watched the whole thing. What did I learn? The Lindsay Lohan thing from yesterday was a total fraud. I didn't learn that from the speech, but it was a more compelling and enlightening truth, I thought. It's what the president would want you to know. It's something you're allowed to know because you are not a terrorist.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.5