It’s an Ill Wind

Like the zephyrs blowing through my underpants, there is a new breeze ruffling the assorted toupees and comb-overs in our nation’s capitol. It is the fresh wind of change, eddying through the pall over the Mall, bringing with it a faint fresh smell: the scent of true righteousness, which is like the aroma of a cherry blossom in a roomful of decaying badger carcasses. This change is drifting over Washington with an agonizing slowness, results achieved by subtle but inexorable erosive process like dust grinding down a marble edifice over millennia–results that really ought to be achieved in a long weekend by sixty thousand intoxicated Visigoths wielding mallets. What is this desirable result, the first whiff of which we are now catching? It is the collapse of the Bush maladministration’s credibility, and with it its operatives’ dreams of a Thousand-Year Right.

Surely, as my numerous detractors on the right-hand end of the speculum will point out, it is wrong to make mock of a president struggling so manfully against such dire evils as are abroad in the world? Surely we, the American people, should get behind him and support our troops? There’s a silly frigging idea. Bush is surrounded by concrete barriers and electric razor wire in Washington, DC. Our troops are sucking dirt in some hellhole on the other side of the world, overworked, underpaid, and going swiftly insane slaughtering the locals. You want to support our troops, get Bush in front of them. They’ll be home on the first transport out of Kuwait. Bush has had all the support he could ever ask for, and six trillion times more support than he ever deserved (I’m rounding the number to the nearest trillion for ease of reading). I for one am well pleased that the noisome brown paste is finally clinging to his shoes and ankles, and Rumsfeld’s, and Condi’s pumps, and on down the line of them, the whole vile, varicose, villainous gang of them embrindled with poo at last. O schadenfreude, O schadenfreude, Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

The ruination of Bush’s utterly spurious credibility has been a long, slow process, entirely unaided by such old fallbacks as the free press and Congress, two entities that (in the good old days when a bottle of pop cost a nickel and you could purchase cocaine over the counter to alleviate toothache) Americans used to rely upon to moderate the behavior of even the most madcap Executive troupe. For two years no action by the Bush junta, be it ever so perfidious, got the slightest rise out of any of the traditional watchdogs. They were sunk in some kind of narcoleptic trance. Trample the Bill of Rights! Destroy our common weal! Wage unprovoked wars on the wrong moustache! Throw firecrackers at our fission-capable enemies! Capering like maniacs across the national and world stages, not an eyelid could the Bush operatives cause to bat, watchdog-wise. But Bush, or properly the Buffalo Bob types operating the monofilaments attached to his limbs, have finally started to get results. Through constant diligence, Bush and his gaggle of suck-buttock familiars have managed to force the slumbering Chihuahuas to react, however slightly. And it looks like there’s more to come.

One can only assume that all of the men and women in the Bush Precision Marching Corps were the same precocious brats as children, always pushing and pushing to get the attention of their distant progenitors (important people with other things on their beautiful minds). No matter what they did–drowning siblings in the maid’s bathroom, torturing cats on the lawn, setting the stables afire–they got no reaction. Then, while smashing a priceless Sung Dynasty vase in the music room, these attention-starved poppets were interrupted by the sudden entrance of the red-faced whiskey-scented father and subsequent application of a thorough, cathartic beating. How else to explain their behavior as adults? The Bush cabal has committed treasonous outrages against country, against mankind, against the very God they smirkingly adore. The word ‘naughty’ barely begins to describe it.

Over and over again they have been caught with hands red as a mandrill’s pootie, then lied about everything and denied whatever could not possibly be lied about. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Iraqi terrorists? Diplomat’s wives? Take it on home, Reverend. How about that global warming? It’s just a coincidence- throw some more coal on the fire, Gracie. A job market sagging like the tits of an ancient dowager under the gravitational influence of Jupiter? Try tax cuts for the wealthy! A brilliant solution to the problem of out-of-work millionaires. What about the matter of America’s wildernesses, those great sacred lands held in common trust? Fuck you, hippie. Get off my mineral rights. The same could be said of our nation’s airwaves, which have been clearcut–or Clear Channeled–if I may be permitted a little pun. We so enjoy these little games with words, don’t we, Mopsy? I may be a crab in high dudgeon or Dungeoness, but at last payback is coming for these insatiable world-pillaging piratical gawwads, and I’m starting to enjoy myself.

This little shiver of delight is at the expense of everything, of course. Our nation has lost every last vestige of its honor and prestige in the gathering of nations, like a belligerent vomit-soaked drunk that started a fistfight on the dance floor with an unattractive midget. We Americans are now looked upon as bloodthirsty, ignorant, and intolerant. The very world we live in is rebelling against our predations as the climate bends to human will and serves us with hurricanes and fires and droughts of record-breaking proportions. America is not the first nation to disgrace itself in this manner, but then again America ain’t Germany or Imperial Rome. You expect those cats to misbehave, and back in those days the end of our species wasn’t such a big concern. For America (the last best hope of this world, they used to say) to fall so low is like catching Superman in bed with the Vienna Boy’s Choir, a bunch of bananas, and a quart bucket of lard. And what with all the angry extremists swarming around taking one-way flying lessons and strapping on Gelignite fanny packs, this is a piss-poor time to extinguish the beacon of Truth, Justice, and Liberty we used to shine around these parts. We are well and truly yfuckt.

Things can only get worse before they get better. It makes me sad. But then I remember there’s a presidential campaign getting into full swing, and I think about how very much lipstick the Boy Emperor’s people are daubing on the pig, and how very often they contradict themselves, and now they’re starting to squabble, and I catch another faint whiff coming from Washington. It’s the scent of fear, as refreshing in its way as a sea breeze (one measure vodka, two measures grapefruit and cranberry juice). Mission Accomplished, indeed. Bush threw a press conference recently, and one of the half-awakened members of the press asked him about the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner that flew from the poopdeck of the aircraft carrier he so bravely arrived on. Bush denied his people had anything to do with the banner–apparently modern aircraft carriers have banner printing services onboard these days, and probably one-hour photo processing as well. In denying responsibility for this banner, El Residente said, and I quote, “I know it [the banner] was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff–they weren’t that ingenious, by the way.” Senior Navy officials confirm the banner did in fact come from the White House, not the Navy. Either Bush or the US Navy is lying. In at least one respect, Bush did tell the truth, however: his advance men aren’t that ingenious. They have squandered everything–all the money, all the goodwill, all the freedoms, all the accumulated IOU’s of generations of bold diplomacy and the riches of our legacy for the future–in half a term of office.

But as it says in Congreve’s play, “‘Tis an ill wind that blows nobody good. Well, you may rejoice over my ill fortune, since it paid the price of your ransom.” We’ve been ransomed, all right, and there’s ill fortune aplenty; we’ll be paying the price for centuries to come. Yet still we may hope the ill wind gathering in Washington blows nobody good into the Potomac, where the concrete overshoes of hubris will sink them into the ignominious mud. Then it’s sea breezes all around.

BEN TRIPP is a screenwriter and cartoonist. Ben also has a lot of outrageously priced crap for sale here. If his writing starts to grate on your nerves, buy some and maybe he’ll flee to Mexico. If all else fails, he can be reached at:


Ben Tripp is America’s leading pseudo-intellectual. His most recent book is The Fifth House of the Heart.