Our president is resolving unconscious Oedipal obsessions by lashing out
at foreign countries -- and it's time his father stepped in.
By Garrison Keillor
Jan. 3, 2007 | As the new Congress convenes this week and Speaker Pelosi
to the rostrum, you have to wish them all well. These are the kids who
got up in school assembly and spoke on Armistice Day and were captains
of teams and organized class projects to do good works, a different
breed from us wise guys who lurked in the halls and made fun of them,
and in the end you want them and not us running your government. Yes,
they had serious brown-nose tendencies and a knack for mouthing pieties,
but you could count on them to do what needed doing. They were leaders.
They weren't going to swipe the lunch money and buy a keg of suds.
You wonder, however, what this earnest bunch can do when things are so
far out of whack as they are in Iraq. The gangland-style execution of
Saddam Hussein was visible reality, a token of the blood lust and
violence that swirls around Iraq, where our forces are mired, sitting
targets, aliens, fighting a colonial war in behalf of a Shiite majority
that is as despotic and cruel as what came before, except messier.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the limousines come and go, memorandums are
set out on long polished tables, men in crisp white shirts sit at
meetings and discuss how to rationalize a war that was conceived by a
handful of men in arrogant ignorance and that has descended over the
past four years into sheer madness.
Military men know there is no military solution here, and the State
Department knows that the policy was driven by domestic politics, but
who is going to tell the Current Occupant? He is still talking about
victory, or undefeat, like some frat boy on meth who thinks he can step
off a roof and not get hurt. The word "surge" keeps cropping up, as if
we were fighting the war with electricity and not human beings.
Rational analysis is not the way to approach this administration. Bob
Woodward <http://dir.salon.com/topics/bob_woodward/index.html> found
that out. The Bush who burst into convulsive sobs after winning
reelection when his chief of staff Andrew Card said, "You've given your
dad a great gift," is so far from the Bush of the photo ops as to invite
closer inspection, and for that you don't want David Broder, you need a
Here we have a slacker son of a powerful patrician father who resolves
unconscious Oedipal issues through inappropriate acting-out in foreign
countries. Hello? All the king's task forces can gather together the
shards of the policy, number them, arrange them, but it never made sense
when it was whole and so it makes even less sense now.
American boys in armored jackets and night scopes patrolling the streets
of Baghdad are not going to pacify this country, any more than they will
convert it to Methodism. They are there to die so that a man in the
White House doesn't have to admit that he, George W. Bush, the decider,
the one in the cowboy boots, made grievous mistakes. He approved a
series of steps that he himself had not the experience or acumen or
simple curiosity to question and which had been dumbed down for his
benefit, and then he doggedly stuck by them until his approval ratings
sank into the swamp.
He was the Great Denier of 2006, waving the flag, questioning the
patriotism of anyone who dared oppose him, until he took a thumpin' and
now, we are told, he is reexamining the whole matter. Except he's not.
To admit that he did wrong is to admit that he is not the man his daddy
is, the one who fought in a war.
Hey, we've all had issues with our dads. But do we need this many people
to die so that one dude can look like a leader?
The earnest folk in Congress are prepared to discuss policy issues, to
plant their butts in hard chairs and sit through jargon-encrusted
reports and long dry perorations thereupon. They're trained for that.
That's one good reason they're there and not you or me. But to address
the war and the White House, you're talking pathology.
It's time for 41 and 43 to work something out, and they can't do it by
way of James Baker
or Brent Scowcroft. Pick up the phone, old man, and tell 43 you love him
dearly and it's time to think about sparing the lives of American
soldiers, many of whom have sons, too.