So W. Hasn't Been Political the Past 4 Months?

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Mr. Carpenter is a writer and doctoral candidate in American history at the University of Illinois and a columnist for HNN.

Now that George is wrapping up what Christ found a tad difficult--that is, ridding the world of evildoers--he has announced he’s once again turning his attention to politics. Nothing, of course, has been farther from W.’s mind in the past few months than the tawdriness of political jockeying. As the Washington Post recently reported,"Administration officials insist that no decisions about the war have been motivated by thoughts of the elections of 2002 or 2004.” So there you have it: a political first, some real true grit for the history books.

Even the administration’s campaign to inform American women voters about the Taliban’s oppression of its female population, for instance, had nothing to do with shoring up the Republican gender gap. No, that exercise, explained presidential advisor Karen Hughes, was merely an effort “to explain to the world what the terrorists hope to inflict on the world.” Many of us had mistakenly believed we were bombing the dickens out of Afghanistan’s huts and hovels in retaliation for that nation’s harboring of international cutthroats. But as we now know, all that bombing was in actuality to prevent the ragtag Taliban government from enslaving the womenfolk of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

But wait, there’s more! as infomercials are wont to spout. Without elaborating on this curiosity--one perhaps more stunning than their noble rejection of wartime politicking--administration officials also contend that “any domestic political windfall from Bush’s war message is coincidental.” They just can’t imagine where it came from. In the absence of White House conjecture on this phenomenon, one can only assume, then, that W.’s “coincidental” jump from a 57 to 87 percent job-performance rating must have come from his deft handling of the economy, which has been in recession since March. December saw another 124,000 job losses and many economists expect unemployment to reach the nice round figure of 7 percent by spring. Nevertheless, the White House refuses to take credit for helping the economy along and merely scratches its head over soaring approval numbers.

With the coming of the new year, though, Bush has determined that it’s time to suit up and reenter the game. As he told reporters before Christmas, “I’m going to have to start thinking about [politics].” He then revealed his twofold aims: “One ... will be to see that Denny Hastert remains the speaker. And one ... will be that Trent Lott becomes the majority leader.” This, of course, came as joyous news to working-class men and women, since the Denny-Trent duo is famed for its past labors on behalf of little people everywhere.

For example, only through their congressional efforts in pushing through George’s whopper of a leisure-class tax cut can needy millionaires finally hire that extra domestic servant for the third floor. To have to fetch one’s own highball while soaking in the upstairs jacuzzi is such an unnecessary pain. Well, that’s a thing of the past, thanks to Denny and Trent, as will soon be those jobless numbers once we all find employment mopping and waxing monsieur’s marble floors--uniform extra.

And because it’s predicted that some Americans will still be out of work at the end of this month, Denny and Trent are going to do their best between now and then to shove down our--correction: bless us with--an economic stimulus package. In its original form under Denny’s guardianship in the House, one provision would have repealed the corporate minimum tax. Not only that, the corporate boys could reclaim all minimum taxes paid since 1986, costing us domestic servants more than $25 billion. IBM alone, for example, would have reaped 1.4 percent of the entire package’s value. But a man does what a man has to do, and Denny is W.’s man.

Denny may be a personal subsidiary, but W. is his own man, or so wrote Texas Monthly’s editor last year about the then-governor’s recent purchase of a little home turf. Quoted in the New York Times, the editor had mused that “Buying a ranch is a way of saying once and for all that he’s a Texan, that his values are rural and instinctive rather than urban and intellectual, that he is his own man and not the prisoner of his family legacy.”

How true. Had W. been a genetic hostage he would have built a mansion in some remote New England territory. Instead, with rugged independence of mind and hard-won personal resources he struck out on his own and bought a sprawling 1,600-acre ranch for more than a million bucks and then plopped a 4,000-square-foot house on it, cost undisclosed. He built the house all on one level, though, so there goes an employment opportunity for some upstairs servant. It’s the most unconscionable deed yet performed by the president, but at least we can take solace in the editor’s observation that W. holds no intellectual values.

But briefly, back to things political. When he finally emerges from the war room, weary from planning bombing missions and calculating B-52 fuel consumption, the president is likely to notice that the budget surplus has disappeared. In fact, the budget is altogether headed in the opposite direction. Word on the street has it that W.’s tax cut of yesteryear has something to do with the surplus’ flight, but this, Republican strategists note, is nothing to worry about politically. They always have electoral ignorance to count on, which as of now seems to hold that our mushrooming deficit is the result of war and security spending. Once W. resumes domestic battle with pesky Democratic naysayers, all he needs to do is call Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who--incredibly--told the New York Times that he’s advising clients to heave forth one simple message on the vanishing surplus: “We had a horrible terrorist attack. It hurt the economy, and we have to spend billions of dollars to keep the public safe. We need to say this with equal force and weight day after day after day.”

I don’t have his number handy, Mr. President, but I’m sure Bill is in the book. Give him a call so you can put your mind, and ours, at ease.

© Copyright 2001 P M Carpenter

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