The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
Boston Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez on why the New York Yankees owned him during the regular season:  “I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."  His colorful expression was destined to enter the language in ways Mr. Martinez probably did not imagine…

The Clinton Library opened in Little Rock last week, an occasion that brought together four past and present Commanders-in-Chief.  Presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush I, and Bush II had nothing but praise for each other – in public.  Their private conversation was somewhat different in tone, which is hardly surprising.  Rising to the political pinnacle requires a competitive drive of rare ferocity.  Bring four such ferociously competitive men together, and the outcome is unlikely to be pretty.  Such was indeed the case, although the persistent rain kept the playground-like exchange from turning into a brawl.  It started while President Bush II was giving his speech.  Sitting in the front row of spectators, President Carter lowered his umbrella and turned to Presidents Clinton and Bush I:

“As I was saying, who among us, besides myself of course, is a Nobel Peace Prize winner?  You’ll recall the little matter of the Camp David Accords, which created a lasting peace between Egypt and Israel.  We established normal relations with China on my watch, and signed the Panama Canal treaty too.  All in all, I’d have to say that I’m your daddy.”

President Bush I remained seated, though he was hardly going to take this sitting down.  “How about my conquest of Kuwait?  Slap bang victory, few casualties.  Standing O for yours truly in Congress.  Anyone else here get one of those?  Don’t think so.  I’m your daddy.”

President Clinton flashed his trademark grin and leaned into his fellow Presidents.  “Now boys, I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I did preside over eight years of peace and prosperity.  Saved the Bosnians, brought calm to Haiti.  Reformed welfare too.  It appears to me that I’m yo daddy.”

President Carter showed his famous teeth in a smile.  “No disparagement of your autobiography intended Bill, but I am a real best-selling author – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, you name it.  And don’t forget, my Carter Center is an internationally respected promoter of peace and democracy around the world.  Quite a legacy for a retired President, wouldn’t you say?  Of course, there’s much to be said for playing golf and writing memoirs, but I still maintain that I’m your daddy.”

“Panama?  Somebody say Panama?  Invaded that too.  Drew a line in the sand, kicked ass.  Strong?  Yup.  Berlin Wall came down on my watch.  Cold war ended.  No question, I’m your daddy.”  President Bush I folded his arms defiantly.

“No one respects your achievements more than I do, George.  But there was the “wimp factor” problem, wasn’t there?  What did they used to say?  ‘George Bush was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.’  Hah.  Then there was that economy that never did quite pick itself up off the floor.  And Jimmy, I’m your biggest admirer, I mean that sincerely.  But the hostage situation?  That botched rescue?  And double-digit inflation?  And after all, I did something both of you didn’t come close to accomplishing:  I was reelected.  Yessir, I’m yo daddy.”  President Clinton’s grin was now so wide his cheeks were in danger of cracking.

“Bill, Bill, Bill.  You did manage to get yourself impeached now, didn’t you?  And there was that unfortunate affair in Somalia.”  President Carter shook his head.  “Face it, I’m still your daddy.”

“Wimp factor?  Fought off any killer rabbits lately, Jim?  As for third base, who’s talking, Bill?”  President Bush I shook his head.  “That little bit of skirt, or should I say blue dress, of yours?  All I can say is, if you’re gonna make out in the office, you outta at least get to home plate.”  He was running out of ammunition, so the former President Bush played his trump card.  “Now get this:  my golf handicap is lower than both of yours.  No question.  I’m your daddy.”

Things might have turned ugly, but just then the amplified sound of President Bush II’s speech rose in volume and interrupted them. "And Christ admonished us that our lives will be judged by how we do unto the least of our neighbors"*  he intoned, in the unintelligent sing-song of an irremediably self-satisfied televangelist.

Simultaneously into the minds of all three former Presidents, who despite their flaws were fundamentally responsible leaders, came images of devastation in New York and Baghdad and Fallujah, of rising poverty rates and the growing numbers of the uninsured and the unemployed.  Clinton and Carter looked sympathetically at President Bush I, who put his head in his hands and groaned.

“I know, I know, don’t say it:  I’m his daddy.”

*http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/19/politics/19speech.html?oref=login.

.©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2004
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