Friday, December 14, 2007

A disappointed president scolds baseball . . . without irony

I sometimes tell my friends that, as I get older, I secretly admire people with no self-awareness and absolutely no concern for how their behavior affects other people or inspires those, "what an asshole!" thoughts in the rest of us. Just the other day, I was sitting in my car, waiting in line to turn out of a busy little shopping center onto River Rd. in Bethesda. And, then . . . out of nowhere . . . comes a big Range Rover, driven by a Bluetooth-equipped woman with a big cup of coffee in her right hand, bolting through the "In" lane, clearly marked by a big arrow pointing towards the parking lot, around the rest of us because . . . clearly, she had someplace to be.

Bad timing, though. A car, a mere Honda Civic, was turning in the shopping center, as the driver had the right to, what, with our light red and his light green. BOOM! They collide . . . making quite a mess and holding the rest of us hostage until they could move their damaged cars out of everyone else's way. Even better, the woman hops out of her Land Rover, furious that the wreck has resulted in spilled coffee all over her white ski jacket (with a furry collar, of course), and yells at the Civic driver, "Did you not fucking see me turning?"

The Civic driver was what society now calls a "Senior." Back in my youth, we called "seniors" what they were -- old people who posed a clear threat to the smooth operation of life's appropriate tempo. But in this case the senior was completely absolved of a "senior moment." He was taking a right turn into a shopping center, cleared by the traffic light to do so. And was one of those adorable seniors, with his pants pulled up around closer to his chest than his waist, and wearing one of those hats that, for reasons that aren't clear, older men start wearing to keep their heads warm, the ones that, from my best historical research, were popular among newspaper boys in the 1930s who yelled, "Extra, extra . . . read all about it." Since my window was rolled down, I could hear her oh-so-polite query to him. And I'll I could get from him was a series of non-verbal gestures, which included pointing at the light, and then the white arrow on the ground, which clearly indicated that she was driving the wrong way.

No matter. She was probably late for her appointment at Aveda, and, as a Land Rover operator in Bethesda, she was entitled to get where she needed to go on her terms. My initial response was, "Jesus, what the hell is your problem?" referring, of course, to the wrong-way driver. But my second response was one of admiration: she did what she wanted, without a moment's notice to think about what her decision would mean for anyone else. In the end, she was right. Two hours later no one would remember what happened except for the people who witnessed it, none of whom knew her. They would have a story to tell, but beyond that, it was an event of no consequence to them. She would tell her friends and personal trainer and bikini waxer and domestic staff and manicurist about this crazy old man that damn near killed her, a "fucking asshole" that should have his license revoked. And on and on. Insurance would cover the damage to her prized Land Rover, a perennial loser in every Consumer Reports evaluation on safety, reliability, gas mileage and, well, really, everything . . .

But she got what she wanted. On her terms.

This is, of course, a typically long and, on first glance, unrelated story to my real purpose in writing this piece. President Bush has issued his first official response to George Mitchell's report on steroid use in major league baseball. Here's what the president has to say:

My hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us. I understand the impact that professional athletes can have on our nation's youth. And I just urge . . . those in the public spotlight, particularly athletes, to understand that when they violate their bodies, they're sending a terrible signal to America's young.
According to a presidential spokemen -- how many "spokesmen" work for the president, by the way? What do you put down on your resume after working as a "spokesman?" February 2005- January 2008 -- Spokesman, Office of the President of the United States: Repeated responses given by other spokesmen to people who generally found explanations incredulous. Engaged in no real thinking, just sycophancy. Mastered phrases such as, "The president shares your concern," or "the president is aware of these issues," or "the president looks forward to working with the Democrat leadership to get his way, which he always does." -- our president is "familiar" with what's in Mitchell's report but hasn't read the 400 page document.

In the last two weeks, the president, presuming he is "familiar" with the NIE report on Iran's nuclear ambitions, the C.I.A. admission that it destroyed taped evidence of its interrogators' use of torture to extract information from captured terrorists and a memoir from a former "spokesman," Scott McClellan, that he was absolutely "familiar" with the chain of events that led to Valerie Plame Wilson's outing as a covert C.I.A. agent, has simply ignored questions about his accountability for any unsavory behavior in his government. For all the mainstream media blabber about his lack of "relevancy," Bush knows exactly what he is doing. He will stick to his story, much like a husband greeted by his wife in their bed with her best friend will insist that they were just looking for ways to spice up their marriage, because he knows that something else will come along to replace the current "concern" over . . . whatever. He knows that most Americans don't really give a shit about the things that perplex Op-Ed columnists, television commentators and bloggers in their boxers. He knows that, his 32% approval rating aside, he still controls the legislative agenda in Congress and the conduct of the war in Iraq (and that other one in Afghanistan). He knows that he can do whatever he wants because after all the spitting, foaming at the mouth and hands thrown in the air, Americans need to get back to their shopping and their celebrity gossip. He knows that no one will see the irony in the statements coming out of both sides of his mouth. In the end . . .

The president will get what he wanted. On his terms.

And that you have to admire.

1 comment:

Alex said...

And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher's arguments against the peace process ( samsonblinded.org/blog/we-need-a-respite-from-peace.htm )?