Home on the Range


I’m wondering what Miss Ellie and Jock are thinking about their Boy George now.

Are the couple talking about “Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” and quibbling over their son’s performance today at the U.S. Naval Academy? I have a very good gut instinct that Ellie is saying, “Maybe after this speech, his polls will go up.” I say this because I’m a mother. I want my sons to do well. I understand her devotion-the need to believe that something which is askew is redeemable, retrievable. She has to be in denial-a luxury that makes us put one foot in front of the other to carry us down the wrong path when we should be facing the truth.

Jock, the oilman, though, is, probably, right about now, wishing his son had followed his true dream to pursue the job of Baseball Commissioner. Boy George wouldn’t have aged as much in the past five years. He might be reviewing an easier strategy rather than the failed one we heard today. Certainly, I know Miss Ellie recognizes that her son looks bad. He needs to be popping some Centrum Silver. In fact, that’s what they and his staff need to stuff in George’s Christmas stocking.

The Boy is out there in front of the few who remain loyal to his dead cause. It’s the only kind of appearance he’ll make. He needs the applause, the nodding, and the approval of those who believe him when he utters the platitudes that put so many of us to sleep now. “Stay the course.”

You know Jock and Ellie have to be wishing Boy George meant the golf or bike course.

The blustery rhetoric is an embarrassment. If that were my son, I would have to say, “Enough already! Few believe you anymore. You’re embarrassing your family. Your country. Your gender. Your genus.”

When George says, “As long as I’m your Commander in Chief,” you know that down on the ranch, the parents are just wishing that George would forget the advice of Karl Rove, the gray matter behind his presidency, and just stop all this egomaniacal “I’m never wrong” routine. It’s become boring. And it’s no longer considered tough. Time to get a new script.

But let’s get back to the “strategy” that Bush has followed for winning the war. It’s thirty-five pages and we all know that’s too much for this nonreader non-leader. His attention span is short. Even his briefs require more brevity.

That’s why he says the same thing over and over. “Car bombers and assassins.” And “America will not run.” Which reminds me of Runny, I mean Rummy, talking today about “sacrifice.”

What has he sacrificed? Does he have a relative in Iraq, fighting all those who are “jealous of our freedoms?” No, but my family did. We have sacrificed. And it’s been for NOTHING.

In August, we lost my nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase Johnson Comley. A friend of his who recently returned from duty in Iraq said, “Chase died for nothing. If we leave tomorrow, there will be civil war. If we stay four years and leave, there will be civil war.”

And George is out there touting and spouting his strategy. As if he ever had any other tactic than to make money from this war. Tragically, something has been made and it’s more terrorists and a world that is less safe because of the invasion of Iraq. Boy George’s plan has made the bank accounts of so many of his friends larger, but it’s also made our world a very unsafe place to live.

Do Jock and Miss Ellie talk about this? They’re probably embarrassed. They have to be ashamed of what they created.

MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com