I feel like I been blindsided. What the hell happened? Things were going great: We were beatin' the bejusus out of the enemy in Afghanistan, Ashcroft & I got everything we wanted through the Congress in terms of having a free hand legally, we got the huge tax cut for my supporters, Muslims around the world were letting us do what we wanted in their countries, it was looking good for the Congressional elections and for me in 2004.
I feel like I been blindsided. What the hell happened? Things were going great: We were beatin' the bejusus out of the enemy in Afghanistan, Ashcroft & I got everything we wanted through the Congress in terms of having a free hand legally, we got the huge tax cut for my supporters, Muslims around the world were letting us do what we wanted in their countries, it was looking good for the Congressional elections and for me in 2004. True, that obstructionist asshole Daschle -- pardon my French, he's not an "obstructionist," he's a true Democrat enemy who wants my job -- was making life difficult for us in the Senate. We tried to smear the guy, but it didn't really take. (I miss Bubba -- EVERYTHING took!) Still, we had the House still in our hands, the press was fairly docile, and the liberals in academia had pulled in their horns, thanks to that list of unpatriotic professors drawn up by Lynne and that suck-up Lieberman.
And then suddenly, whammo! I'm being called Preztle-dent Bush, and the stand-up comics are having a field day. It wasn't just the pretzle; they wouldn't be making jokes about me -- and Teddy wouldn't have come out of the woodwork to challenge my tax cuts -- if everything else was going right and they had to Watch What They Say. (Good line, Ari!)
But in truth, I have had a lot to swallow in such a short time. No wonder the beer looks tempting these days. I didn't sign up for all these damn foreign complications and economic disasters!
Consider: There's about to be a full-scale war between the Israelis and Palestinians that could escalate way beyond that area and pull us in somehow. Intelligence says Al Qaeda soldiers may appear there to fight for Arafat and his boys. We've given Sharon carte blanche to handle those A-rabs however he wants -- always better to get the local boys to do your dirty work for you -- but the guy is like a demented fireman who likes hosing off flames with gasoline. Still, if he gets rid of the problem and things calm down there, eventually, more power to him. (But if too many wars break out around the globe that need U.S. troops, we may have to re-institute the draft, and that's what did LBJ in. Still, patriotism is running high, maybe we can get away with it.)
Then there's the Kashmir thing. Those bloody Pakis and Hindus have nuclear weapons, for chrissakes! Maybe we should take both of them out, and calm things down there for several decades. Let them fight with sticks and stones if they want.
Add on to that all the hypocritical attacks on us for how we're treating our Al Qaeda/Taliban prisoners -- whoops, I mean detainees -- in Guantanamo. If they become official POWs, we'll have to be more careful about how we get information out of them and will have Red Cross officials constantly snooping around. We're also starting to get some heat for not finding Osama and Omar. I don't care if we never find those guys -- they are our poster boys for evildoing and I need them out there scaring folks -- though eventually I guess we'll look like weaklings if we don't bring them in. In charred body bags, if you get my drift.
All that would have been bad enough Over There, but then Enron had to implode Over Here! Goddamn! True, there are some Democrat fingerprints all over the body too, but nothing like what our side has. We were totally in bed with Kenny Boy and his corporation. (Heard a good joke: How are Clinton and Bush alike? "They'd do anything for a Lay." I can't help it; it's funny.) The press are starting to circle like sharks, smelling blood. We're bobbin' and weavin' and keeping them at a distance, but I've already begun to hear talk in Congress that is too reminiscent of Nixon and Watergate: What did the President know and when did he know it? (I refuse to think about the I-word, yet.)
Tell the truth, I don't know how we're going to get out of this one. Dick is finally going to have to produce the documents about how our energy policy was put together, and Kenny Boy is right at the heart of the matter. And our Cabinet and subCabinets looks like an Enron alumni reunion. Even the investigators in charge have Enron ties. Still no drumbeat for a special prosecutor, but the rumblings are starting. If we have to appoint one, we may not be able to get a Ken Starr this time. God help us if we have to appoint an Archie Cox or Judge Walsh type. (Walsh, that Republican traitor, almost indicted my dad in Iran/Contra. Good thing we've been able to get away with making all past presidential papers secret.) Maybe we can just shred all the incriminating documents, like Nixon's missing 18 minutes on the tape.
And the Enron fallout goes on and on. Members of the Senate may even, against their own desires and pocketbooks, have to finally pass campaign finance reform, now that it has passed the House. It'll be window-dressing for the most part, but it could set a precedent and our whole system of donations-for-access could be on the wane. Not good for anyone.
Somehow, some way, I've got to get Enron and its political fallout off the front pages. I'd throw the press a distracting bone, but all I've got are more scandals and John Walker. Maybe bin Laden will pull a good one -- bombing a port city, bacterial dispersal, some more plane crashes, anything -- and the press will gravitate to what they do best, blood & guts, instead of that dull investigative stuff. Maybe the anthrax guy will rev up again. Maybe Clarence Thomas will get caught misbehaving in a porn theater. I'm open to anything.
Well, enough brain work. I'm heading for the couch.
Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, was the San Francisco Chronicle's theater critic for nearly two decades; he holds a Ph.D. in government & international relations.