Archive for March 7th, 2006

It Really Ties The Oval Office Together…

I have learned to look forward to the last item in The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin’s White House Briefing column. It is somewhat akin to The Daily Show’s “Moment Of Zen”: A bizarre, inexplicable, often appalling, and often illuminating little slice of weirdness culled from the zeitgeist’s fitful subconscious. I thought today’s Bumilleresque entry from Froomkin’s own Washington Post was particularly… eye-opening:

Nothing says power like the Oval Office. The paintings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The bust of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The desk used by both Roosevelts.

And then there’s the rug. Don’t forget the rug. President Bush never does.

For whatever reason, Bush seems fixated on his rug. Virtually all visitors to the Oval Office find him regaling them about how it was chosen and what it represents. Turns out, he always says, the first decision any president makes is what carpet he wants in his office. As a take-charge leader, he then explains, he of course made a command decision — he delegated the decision to Laura Bush, who chose a yellow sunbeam design.

Elizabeth Vargas, the ABC News anchor, was the latest to get the treatment. She went by last week to interview Bush before his trip to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Sure enough, she wasn’t in the room but a minute or two before he started telling her about the carpet.

(snip)

“…Presidents are able to pick their own rugs or design their own rugs.”

Bush went on: “The interesting thing about this rug and why I like it in here is ’cause I told Laura one thing. I said, ‘Look, I can’t pick the colors and all that. But make it say ‘optimistic person.’ “

(not “strong, decisive leader”?)

Bush has his own touches in the Oval Office — some Western-themed paintings and an on-loan bust of Winston Churchill courtesy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. But it is the rug that animates the president.

“He loves his rug,” said Nicolle Wallace, the White House communications director. “I’ve heard him describe it countless times.”

Sometimes Bush describes it as a metaphor for leadership. Sometimes he relates how Russian President Vladimir Putin admired the carpet. Sometimes he seems most taken by the lighting qualities.

(snip)

Not only does the president describe the rug to journalists and foreign leaders, he does so to virtual visitors. During “An Oval Office Tour With President George W. Bush” on the White House site ( http://www.whitehouse.gov ), he wastes no time pointing out the carpet. “It helps make this room an open and optimistic place,” Bush tells viewers.

(snip)

Bush doesn’t need the Oval Office to talk about the Oval Office carpet. Lately he’s been taking the story on the road, sharing it with workers at a moving company in Sterling on Jan. 19, then with students at Kansas State University on Jan. 23, and again with supporters at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry on Feb. 1.

“If you walk in that Oval Office,” Bush said in Sterling, “I think you’re going to say, just like you know it, ‘This guy’s optimistic.’ “

It’s just plain freaky. I’m not sure if it’s an indication of the lengths to which Bush will go to bolster his own Reaganesque mythos (Optimism! Sunny nobility!), or some kind of derangement, or that he just REALLY loves that rug. If only Laura had patterned it after the Constitution…

7 comments March 7th, 2006 at 06:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Media,Politics,Wankers,Weirdness

Morality Is For Nerds

Can we please get Richard Cohen behind a paywall ASAP? The Washington Post would be doing us all a favor if they would just trade Cohen and a couple of draft picks for Krugman. Besides, Cohen would get along famously with their self-satisfied dishonest fake-reasonable wankers, Brooks and Tierney.

The particular steaming pile of crap that Cohen has favored us with today makes it painfully clear that he is utterly devoid of any sense of right and wrong, but instead operates under some sort of hybrid combination of cronyism and “might makes right.” Needless to say, this makes him the perfect apologist for the Bush administration and Republicans in general.

Back behind my high school one day, we all assembled to watch a fistfight. To my immense pleasure, a bully was being bested by his victim. Then the bully’s friend stepped in and ended matters with a swift kick to the other guy’s midsection. It was an unfair ending to what was supposed to be a fair fight, but it taught me a valuable lesson: You treat your friends differently than you do your enemies.

This elemental principle of life, love and other matters seems utterly lost on so many critics of George Bush’s agreement to provide India with civilian nuclear technology. In doing so, we are told, he has done something truly awful — established a double standard. Well, duh — yes. India is our friend and Iran, just to pick an example, is not.

[some babble about why Israel is good and Iran and Palestine are bad]

The “double standard” accusation has a schoolyard quality to it. Why a boycott of Cuba and not of China? Because you can with one and not with the other. Why attack Saddam Hussein and not all the other vile dictators? Because you do what you can. Why not ask why you leave your estate to your kids and not strangers? Because your kids are your kids. It is the ultimate double standard.

It is true, of course, that Bush has upended 30 years of American nuclear policy — and there will be consequences. Maybe, as some of the critics say, he has made it easier for India to increase its nuclear arsenal. But India will make all the weapons it feels it needs — no matter what the United States does. America is a superpower, but not even a superpower is all-powerful.

Way to airily wave off 30 years of American non-proliferation policy, dude.

The Israeli bomb threatens nobody. An Iranian bomb does. India has transferred its nuclear technology to no one. Pakistan has. No one worries about India or Israel making the technology available to terrorists. Everyone worries about Iran doing that. These are distinctions with great differences. They are, as critics charge, double standards, but to apply a single standard to both friend and enemy, while it might be fair, would be singularly stupid.

I couldn’t find any reference to laws or morality, other than in the introduction, where his cruel childhood awakening shakes the scales of conventional notions of right and wrong from his now-incredibly-clear eyes. This really is an incredibly convenient philosophy Cohen has here, as it can be used to justify virtually any action or inaction. Torture, murder, and violations of the Geneva Conventions? Hey, they’re our enemies – it’s not like we’re torturing or killing our friends, for goodness’ sake. Mass murder in Darfur? Poverty in the U.S.? We are powerless to help, so why even try? Let’s just focus on achievable goals, like cutting taxes for the rich and starting wars we can’t win…

I won’t even mention that the United Arab Emirates, whose ownership of our ports Cohen has advocated in a previous column, is awfully, ah, Dubaious as a “friend”, and has about as much love for Israel as Iran does (one of Cohen’s examples of Iran’s badness). Oh wait, I just did. But I’m your friend, so it’s totally cool.

March 7th, 2006 at 12:08pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Media,Politics,Wankers


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