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Pay No Attention to the Bush Behind the Curtain!


Dropping in the polls like a balloonist with a slow leak, the Fulminator-in-Chief desperately tried to cover the gaping hole with a MADE IN U.S.A. patch. Alas, the godless liberal media found him out and exposed the MADE IN CHINA labels his staff had tried vainly to conceal at a clumsily staged warehouse “event” in St. Louis.

No problem, blame the staff. They were “over-zealous.” Wasn’t that cute of them, heh-heh? Other than the fact that it completely deflated the president’s economic message and exposed him as a lying fraud, what harm did it do? (Was the air coming out, or were the wheels coming off? You decide.)

Did hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to protest plans to invade Iraq, carrying home-made “Who Would Jesus Bomb” signs? At least the protesters made their own signs and didn’t just tape over some old “Bomb Iraq” placards.

No problem, the president didn’t see it on TV. Anyway, let them try demonstrating in Iraq, said Condi Rice.

Did France and Germany dare to oppose the will of the president?

No problem, send Colin Powell out to say that the French position isn’t “serious.” Let others leak the word that the “center” of NATO is shifting away from France and Germany and “toward the east.” Let Rumsfeld label the two countries as “the old Europe.” That’ll teach them. Hell, we’ll attack them, too, if we have to. They’re worse than the Canadians, who got their knickers all in a twist when our doped-up pilots bombed them.

“Exactly what IS the connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda? Show me,” demanded Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri in a heated meeting with White House officials.

No problem, relax, have some Milk Duds. Two-thirds of Americans now think Iraq brought down the World Trade Towers, says one poll.

Still, with even senior Republican leaders daring to take this tone with the White House, will the president feel himself duty bound to correct that appalling belief in his State of the Union address, so that his remarks might at least have some slight reference to reality?

Nonsense, but no problem. The president’s remarks will be interrupted repeatedly by applause. Every effort will be made to pump hot air back into the balloon.

Did the president, in the wake of the Trent Lott debacle, actually appoint a former Bob Jones University employee, who considers homosexuality to be a “deathstyle” rather than a lifestyle, and who advocates “reparative therapy” to “rescue” people from the “sin” of homosexuality to his Presidential Commission on HIV and AIDS?

No problem! The appointee, Jerry Thacker, has removed any phrases that might offend civilized human beings from his web site (e.g., references to the “gay plague”).

Did the president’s man Thacker quickly withdraw, anyway, when it developed that not only civilized human beings but the Washington Post had noticed his appointment?

No problem. “The views that he holds are far, far removed from what the president believes,” explained Ari Fleischer, helpfully. “The president has a total opposite view.”

That’s not a misquote. The president has a total opposite view.

Of course he does. Repeat after me: the president has nothing in common with the bigotry of Bob Jones University, or Trent Lott or Jerry Thacker. Nor does he have anything in common with the corporate crookery of Ken Lay. He is the opposite of them. All of them.

Just because you have your picture taken with somebody, or accept hundreds of thousands in contributions from somebody, or go somewhere to make a speech, or appoint somebody to your presidential commission, doesn’t mean you ever heard of them or have anything to do with them, anything whatever, especially if they are perceived as “negative” when you thought they were good Christian people.

Any attempt to suggest otherwise would be a cheap shot, like making a big deal out of the fact that the president picked the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan. Didn’t he hire Colin Powell (the great Liberal hope) and Condoleeza Rice?

Once more, repeat after me: anything you don’t like, the president has a total opposite view.

Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain.

But do ask yourself: how did the name of Jerry Thacker ever come to the president’s attention? What Wicked Witch of the West Wing (or Warlock, more likely) recommended him? And how did whoever “discovered” him ever come to have influence in the White House? May whoever it was be standing right under the balloon when it finally crumples to the ground.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch.

He can be reached at:

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DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

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