Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Verbalizing my internal dialogue

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the Seattle Post Intelligencer invited me to participate on a panel discussion following President Bush’s final State of the Union address (See, “An offer I can’t refuse”). My friend, Karol and I attended together. We knew from the start that one of our biggest challenges would be controlling any outbursts during the President’s speech. Being competitive people, we made a bet that the first person with an uncontrolled, audible and coherent outburst would have to buy dinner (groaning and rolling eyes did not count – an actual coherent word or phrase had to escape – we are not saints, after all).

Interestingly, we both made it through without losing the bet. (This might be because the President’s speech was significant more for what it did not say, than what it did. It was easier not to scream out, “You’ve got to be kidding!”) At this time, I am going to reward myself here by indulging in voicing my internal dialogue (in italics and in the first-person voice of the President) regarding some portions of the President’s address that I found significant.

“We have faced hard decisions about peace and war, rising competition in the world economy and the health and welfare of our citizens. These issues call for vigorous debate, and I think it's fair to say we've answered that call.” (Yeah, the debate sure has been much more vigorous since my party lost the congressional majority that rubber-stamped all of my policies about these issues for the first four years of my presidency.)

“[L]et us show them that Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time.” (And let us forget the first four years of my presidency when I had a Republican congress and the liberty of telling the Democrats to go blow. (See above.))

“We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens. So in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free people to make wise decisions, and empower them to improve their lives and their futures.” (Except in the event that my opponent wins the popular vote; then, I believe the Supreme Court should decide that I will be president.)

“[T]ogether, we showed the world the power and resilience of American self-government.” (Particularly where we decide that we are not going to follow international treaties and obligations that were willingly entered into by previous administrations. That just perks up middle-Americans and shows the world how ‘powerful’ we are. Of course, you have to understand that my definition of power is akin to that of a two year old where I get to do what I want to do when I want to do it and how I want to do it. Ahhh, no wonder I go to bed early and take naps.)

“Wages are up, but so are prices for food and gas.” (I do not really mean “wages” so much as I mean “income” for my capitalist friends. In fact, if this were a press conference where anyone would challenge what I was going to say, I would not be able to say that wages were up. This is because, after adjusting for inflation, the average worker’s wages have been flat.)

“We have other work to do on taxes. Unless the Congress acts, most of the tax relief we have delivered over the past 7 years will be taken away. Some in Washington argue that letting tax relief expire is not a tax increase. Try explaining that to 116 million American taxpayers who would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800.” (Never mind how the vast majority of my tax relief went to the richest income earners – see how I phrase this so that the remaining taxpayers think that their taxes will go up $1,800 personally?)

“Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders.” (See how, even though I am also President to the 49% who did not vote for me, I can get away with being showing my disdain for them by hiding my remarks under humor? Clever me.)

“There is only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: make the tax relief permanent. And members of Congress should know: If any bill raising taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it.” (Remember, I did not veto anything in my first five years until the stem cell research bill. I prefer signing statements, like I issued on McCain’s ridiculous anti-torture bill. I figured out that the American people support me vetoing good legislation or modifying it at-will. See, the first four years of bad legislation = no vetoes and I got re-elected. Second four years with good legislation = vetoes. Must be the same thing, right?)

“To build a future of quality health care, we must trust patients and doctors to make medical decisions and empower them with better information and better options…We will help ensure that decisions about your medical care are made in the privacy of your doctor's office - not in the halls of Congress.” (Except when those choices involve a woman’s right to choose regarding reproduction; discussion of birth control in third world countries where we send aid; stem cell research, or – let’s see, Terry Schiavo. In those cases, I believe the federal government knows better than you or a doctor that actually has been to medical school.)

“We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer choice, not government control.” (Never mind that 20% of all non-Medicare healthcare dollars supplement the inefficiencies created by a multi-payer system. Therefore, Medicare, a governmentally controlled program, is actually 20% more efficient than the open market. See, that would not get my insurance buddies any money, see. Notice how I frame this debate in terms of “consumers?” This is so that no one will be confused with healthcare being a right or any of that other such nonsense. If people cannot pay for it, they do not deserve to have it. Let them die.)

“Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and today no one can deny its results.” (Did you catch that clever slight-of-hand? Notice, I did not specify positive nor negative results. I just said, “results” so no one can say my speech wasn’t honest. Failure is a “result” too. The title is catchy too – “No Child Left Behind.” Schools are not faulted for dropouts as heavily as for low performers. So, if the kiddies aren’t performing to par, we just force them out.)

“[Free trade agreements] will support good jobs for the finest workers in the world: those whose products say "Made in the USA." (Like clothing manufactured in the Mariana Islands at slave wages in subhuman conditions. Desperate people really do make the finest workers, don’t you find?)

“To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. Our security, our prosperity and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil.” (Wow, it sure was politically expedient of me finally to acknowledge that global warming was a problem after calling it a “myth” for so long. Of course, I was kinda backed into a corner by that fellow, Al, who won a Nobel Peace Prize. Plus, now my corporate buddies have figured out a way to commodify being green, I’ve got to get on the bandwagon.)

“Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.” (Of course, with the damage done to the environment by mining companies, any environmental savings will be negated if Americans use more coal because they think it is “green” – if carbon-neutral coal burning can even be achieved in the first place.)

“Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.” (Yes, this is just like the Kyoto Protocol that I withdrew the United States signature from. You see, back then I wanted to show my fellow conservatives my disdain for international agreements. However, that I am going to be out of office in a year, I want to be able to take credit for an idea that the democrats are sure to implement after I am gone.)

“In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need.” (Because on my watch, the government will not. We restrict our aid to foreigners. The only government housing for the homeless that I approve of is the White House and it is mine.)

“Tonight the armies of compassion continue the march to a new day in the Gulf Coast. America honors the strength and resilience of the people of this region. We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and better than before.” (I say this knowing that most of America has forgotten all about Katrina, and will not even realize that we have had people living in formaldehyde leaching trailers for over two years.)

“And on a clear September day, we saw thousands of our fellow citizens taken from us in an instant. These horrific images serve as a grim reminder: The advance of liberty is opposed by terrorists and extremists - evil men who despise freedom, despise America and aim to subject millions to their violent rule.” (35 minutes into my speech and I am just now mentioning September 11; I must be slipping. Also, I’m counting on the fact that no one knows about the study from the University of Chicago (the same university that spawned the Neo Conservative movement) that shows that suicide terrorists don’t actually “despise freedom;” they just want foreign troops off soil that they consider to be their holy land. Like Osama Bin Laden demanding that we get our troops out of Saudi Arabia. I mean, it is not as if he did not give us any warnings before September 11. He asked us to leave; there was the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the bombing of the USS Cole. However, the American people are too dull for nuance so I can get away with saying whatever I want that will scare American’s into trusting me.)

“Since September 11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to the enemies of America.” (So long as you all are clear that I have redefined the meaning of “justice” to mean holding people without trial on some god-forsaken island; and when given a trial, have removed all procedure that would render the proceedings fair. Oh well, it was the Declaration of Independence that said, “All men are created equal.” The Constitution does not say anything like that so I am sure it was only meant to apply to Americans. It never was a statement about our fundamental values as Americans – vengeance and revenge.)

“The terrorists oppose every principle of humanity and decency that we hold dear.” (Like extraordinary rendition, disappearances and water boarding. They like to kill their victims outright. We like to hold then and torture them until they are crazy.)

“When we met last year, al-Qaida had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq…Today, it is al-Qaida that is searching for safe passage. They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al-Qaida leaders and operatives. Last month, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al-Qaida and admitted that coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq…Al-Qaida is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated.” (I just have to keep conflating the two groups, Al-Qaida and Al-Qaida-In-Iraq, and Americans will never know the difference. They’ll never understand that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and that Al-Qaida didn’t exist in Iraq until I invaded it. As I said before, the American people aren’t big on nuance. That’s why I won against that intelligent fellow, Kerry. Too much nuance.)

“One of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning. Last year, the Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, the Congress set the legislation to expire on February 1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger.” (Apparently, it is important that Congress pass a law granting phone companies retroactive immunity for already-broken laws, but its ok if surveillance is disrupted because the FBI didn’t pay the phone bills.)

America is opposing genocide in Sudan and supporting freedom in countries from Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma.” (Never mind that America has an affirmative duty to act in the event of genocide pursuant to the Genocide Convention. I don’t like international agreements so I can say what I want and no one will call me on it. The United States can always withhold its dues so that the UN won’t be able to even hold a hearing. Hey, that’s not a bad idea. Maybe we should stop paying the light bills in all domestic courthouses where I don’t like the judge’s opinions…)

“And tonight, I ask the Congress to support an innovative proposal to provide food assistance by purchasing crops directly from farmers in the developing world, so we can build up local agriculture and help break the cycle of famine.” (I have to say at least one intelligent and logical thing in this speech – just in case some historian tries to use my mental health as an explanation for my tenure as President and the sorry state I am leaving this country in.)

Ahhhh (sigh of relief), I feel much better.

No comments: