Too Little Too Late
George W. Bush made monumental news this week; news that elevated him and his role above the quagmire of tragedy. The world was amazed when the papers showed George at a podium and the headlines read â€œI take responsibility.â€ It was a moment of true presidential grace. His supporters golf-clapped, nodding approvingly that the man is doing only what a true man should by taking the helm in this fiercest of storms. His opposition got what they wanted â€“ or were at least so stunned by this whiplash change of course that they couldnâ€™t complain. After all, how can you disagree with the sentiment, this great, noble action?
He took responsibility.
And everyone said, â€œBra-vo.â€
Itâ€™s all a bunch of crap. Donâ€™t buy it.
Iâ€™ve been lying very low during this entire catastrophe. Primarily, there wasnâ€™t much I could offer that someone else hadnâ€™t already said or thought. Also, the political in-fighting and faux-cross-bearing was giving me a headache.
But I canâ€™t let this go.
A few days before W. took responsibility, there was a meeting in the West Wing. This meeting had been going on for days, and no one was sleeping. Hereâ€™s a snippet of the end of that meeting:
White House Guy 1: Weâ€™re fucked. Weâ€™re so fucking fucked, itâ€™s fucked.
White House Guy 2: Fucked isnâ€™t the word for it. Weâ€™re terminal. Weâ€™ve shocked and awed ourselves.
Guy 1: I canâ€™t remember a time when weâ€™ve screwed up so badly, openly and obviously on camera.
Guy 2: It hasnâ€™t happened sinceâ€¦
Guy 1: Sinceâ€¦
Guy 2: [a light bulb goes on] WACO!
You remember Waco. The ATF, the Bradley tanks shooting fire and rockets into a big house full of horny cultists and innocent children? Some of you might be too young to remember. This is back in the day when all the â€œterroristsâ€ were white, American, and at one point Christian.
Anywho, Waco was a big stink. There was a big investigation with a climax that shocked everyone: Attorney General Janet Reno said she was accountable and took responsibility. And every person in the civilized world looked like that horse that had the heart attack in Animal House. A hush fell over the world. She took responsibility. No public official ever did that before.
And then you know what happened?
Not a goddamn thing. The damage was done. A highly public official took â€œresponsibilityâ€. Wasnâ€™t that enough? Yes. Yes it was. Not only did Reno keep her job, but she went on to a successful career of blowing up cabins full of terrorists and scaring the bejesus out of children by shoving guns in their faces and inspiring Will Ferrell.
So, George Walker takes responsibility. Now heâ€™s a hero. Now weâ€™re going to see some changes. Right?
George Walker pulled the responsibility card for the same reason Reno did â€“ it was the last card in his hand.
Bill Maher nailed it:
â€œThere’s no more money to spend â€“ you used up all of that. You can’t start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard’s bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one’s speaking to you. Mission accomplished.â€
Hereâ€™s what this responsibility is going to get us:
- An investigation, the conclusion of which wonâ€™t be available until after the â€™08 election, and all the juicy parts (read: the parts where you find out who fucked up and how badly) will be blacked out.
- Maybe the creation of a new Department, because Republicans are all about less government. It can be called the Department of Freedom Assurance. This department will tie up all the bureaucratic loose strings caused by the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, andâ€¦ what the hell, the Department of the Interior, because theyâ€™re apparently not doing much and whenâ€™s the last time they caught a terrorist?
- The Secretary of Freedom Assurance will be some guy you’ve never heard of, unless you subscribe to Alpaca Monthly. This will work out well, because there wonâ€™t be any dirt on him, so no one will even notice his sheer lack of experience until we need a good scapegoat. He wonâ€™t even be a scapegoat, because his own incompetence will be its own indictment of his failure to do his job.
- And most importantly, weâ€™ll get a president who cares. After all, what is responsibility if not a way of caring â€“ unless of course you consider responsibility a duty to perform the tasks that you said you would in two oaths over the past five years to serve the country. If thatâ€™s the case, then weâ€™re going to have a president who has just publicly said that heâ€™s going to start doing his job. So thatâ€™s an improvement, right?
What is truly appalling is not the crisis, and itâ€™s not how the crisis was made worse. What is truly appalling is the fact that heâ€™s being lauded and celebrated for â€œtaking responsibilityâ€. Last I looked, a job is a series of tasks for which youâ€™re responsible. Responsibility would mean not waiting a week to send in the National Guard. Responsibility would have been making sure that those buses had people in them, instead of people floating next to them, regardless if someone else wasnâ€™t responsible for their job. Responsibility would mean not needing four visits to a disaster area beyond Biblical proportions to know what anyone with a TV in Uzbekistan knew the day after the hurricane.
You donâ€™t start taking responsibility after everything is so fucked up that people will only acknowledge your existence to lambast you with insults and criticisms. By that point, you donâ€™t â€œtake responsibility.â€ You â€œfind Jesus.â€ Of all people, George W. Bush should know that.
And he does. The question now is will the American people finally realize that? Actually, the real question is how long do you have to sledgehammer plungers into rectums before people realize you’re anally violating them?
Iâ€™m glad Kerry lost, because Bush now has to deal with the tragedy heâ€™s responsible for. Or maybe he wonâ€™t â€“ heâ€™ll just say he will. Like he always has. Unless of course, someone finally holds him accountable.
Stay tuned for 2006, kids. The end is only beginning.