Saturday, May 10, 2003

First we have a minor joke. As usual these days, not very funny. Not even newsworthy, since continuous hypocrisy is the new standard state of the Union. One of the leading conservative "political philosophers" is a fellow named William Bennett. His big best seller was called The Book of Virtues, though he's written others, such as The Children's Book of Virtues. Recently outed as a big-time gambler to the tune of $8 million in losses. Needless to say, gambling didn't make the list of virtues. So how many people would have bought that book if they had actually known they were just funding his gambling addiction? Now for the punchline. He was Secretary of Education under Reagan, personally responsible for creating a whole new generation of conservative voters. Makes it rather hard to have much hope for America's future.

Now for the big one, possibly to be filed under "be careful what you wish for" or "remember Ed Wood". Dubya recently launched his reelection campaign as the hero of the Iraqi liberation/occupation/whatever. This was done with a staged photo-op and speech aboard the aircraft carrier Lincoln. It's sort of okay, since they were way out there somewhere, much too far away to worry about hearing ol' Abe spinning in his grave. However, it mostly reminds me of ol' Ed Wood and Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Required background is to know that Plan 9 from Outer Space is regarded by many people as the worst movie ever made. A cult classic--but it wasn't intended that way. Ed Wood was the director back in 1959, and he was just as serious about it as any of his other movies. He actually made many movies, and all of them were regarded as bad, but this one was the worst. One of his most famous quotes was made at the premiere of Plan 9 from Outer Space: "This is it! THIS is the one I'll be remembered for!" He was right, you know. But not the way he meant it. Ed Wood is more famous now than he ever was when he was alive, but it's sort of a good thing he died rather than finding out why.

From all reports, Ed Wood really and sincerely believed he was creating great works of art. Most reports say Dubya thinks he's doing okay as resident of the White House in spite of leading America to economic disaster and new depths of perpetual fear. (And let's not forget the international isolation and even hostility.) However, this new militaristic image is a new thing, and should backfire disastrously for two reasons: 1) America is not a military dictatorship, and 2) Dubya is personally a military embarrassment.

When they wrote the Constitution they wanted to make it very clear that the American military serves the civilian government and NOT vice versa. They very deliberately and quite explicitly made a civilian "commander in chief" of the armed services. Yes, most presidents have served in the military, and many of them were even high ranking officers, but no real president has ever gotten confused about who's in charge, and to the best of my knowledge, no real president has ever appeared in a military uniform the way Dubya was prancing around in his military flight suit. This is the sort of propagandistic imagery you expect from an impoverished banana republic after the latest coup.

As for Dubya's OWN military service, that's NOT something they want the voters to think too much about, though this escapade is quite likely to bring it to the voters' attention. The very best angle is to say Dubya chose to avoid any risk of service in Vietnam, even though he supported that war, and Dubya's military record is all downhill from there. There were LONG waiting lists for national guard service, but Dubya instantly bypassed them. Everyone knows he evaded the draft using his father's influence. Anyone who ever hoped to be a military pilot (even including me) has to be rather offended that Dubya also got that posh billet, in spite of having the lowest possible qualifications. Then it gets into the messy stuff and the reasons why Dubya's personal military records remain sealed, even though all other public figures release their military service records as a matter of course. Most of the available evidence suggests that after receiving all that expensive flight training at public expense, Dubya just blew off the last part of his military commitment. Rather than make a politically awkward issue of his dereliction of duty, they simply swept it all under the rug, and pretended he was penalized by having his service extended a few months--as a name listed in a paper reserve unit in Colorado. There are still lots of questions that could be answered if his records were made public, but that seems very unlikely. Me, I'd like to know whether he was removed from flight status for incompetence as a pilot, fear of drug testing during his "young and irresponsible" days, or for other reasons.

So Dubya's handlers want this to be the image he's remembered for? Well, let's not forget Ed Wood's hope of being remembered for Plan 9 from Outer Space. Just didn't turn out the way he wanted it to. Ed Wood didn't intend to be remembered as the worst movie director of all time. Dubya's track record of worsts is already rather impressive.

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As a blogger from before there were blogs, I've concluded what I write is of little interest to the reading public. My current approach is to treat these blogs as notes, with the maturity indicated by the version number. If reader comments show interest, I will probably add some flesh to the skeletons...