|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
Saturday, January 20th, 2007
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Comedian Rich Little has been hired for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association roast of President Bush. The well-known Canadian mimic of mostly dead celebrities says he won’t mention the word “Iraq.” According to Mr. Little, the president is “really over the coals right now, and he’s worried about his legacy.”
Indeed. So worried is the president, he’s been touring Washington D.C.’s National Mall, trying to decide where he fits in. Appropriately, he began with the giant obelisk commemorating George Washington, first in war, peace, and the hearts of his countrymen. As the president sees it, like Washington he is engaged in a desperate war of survival against an implacable foe. And while there might be a difference between taking on the world’s mightiest empire and winning, and fighting a scattered rag tag band of international outlaws to an uneasy stalemate, those fine distinctions are of interest only to historians. As Mr. Bush has often said, he is a “war president,” and war is war, regardless of the opposition.
Apart from Washington’s honesty, civility, and non-partisanship, the first president was also a resolute defender of elective democracy in the face of considerable pressure to assume autocratic powers. In these qualities and others Mr. Bush sees many similarities to himself, including his distant predecessor’s lack of formal education. Washington overcame this handicap to craft, with enormous labor and care, writings of an eloquence, logic, and fundamental good sense and decency that resonate down through the centuries. President Bush’s own struggles with the English language are well-known, but the Decider is confident history will deal fairly with his more memorable oratorical flights. Still, the Washington Monument looks so right in its solitary splendor at the heart of the capital, that even Mr. Bush doubts the appropriateness of erecting a twin to himself by its side.
Next up was the Pantheon-esque magnificence of the Jefferson Memorial. The author of the Declaration of Independence, bibliophile founder of the Library of Congress, and educator-builder of the University of Virginia seems to Mr. Bush to be a man very like himself. Jefferson had a relentless intellectual curiosity and a polymathic knowledge of the world as it was then conceived. He was a student of man and nature, with a scholarly approach to life and a creative spirit that produced both some of the nation’s finest buildings, and some of its most memorable words. Although Mr. Bush’s own tastes run more to televised football, bike riding, and brush clearing, he has, in his own words, “read three Shakespeares” and declared that the “jury is still out” on evolution. This surely qualifies him as a natural philosopher in the Jefferson mold, worthy of his own memorial rotunda. Unfortunately Jefferson was also known to declare that “good wine is a necessity of life for me,” which for the teetotaling Bush eliminates the possibility of another presidential pantheon springing up beside the original.
The colonnaded splendor of the Lincoln Memorial hove into view. Inside the classical temple of reason, the great man sits in marble glory, his keen gaze contemplating eternity for the benefit of us all. The square-jawed, upright, fearless figure of “Honest Abe” has a special significance for Mr. Bush. Lincoln’s journey from log cabin obscurity to the presidency was entirely due to his own brilliant abilities, unaided by fortune, family, or business connections. “Just like me,” Mr. Bush has often reflected. The president toyed with the idea of installing a marble version of himself perched on Lincoln’s knee, but his associates advised against it. Too much like a ventriloquist and his dummy, they told him. Privately, Mr. Bush, considering his relationship with Dick Cheney, thought that a not inappropriate metaphor for his reign, but he deferred to his advisors’ wisdom.
Finally the president and his entourage came upon the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Not as grandiloquent as its fellows, the low-lying monument’s series of sculpted chambers, open to the air, surrounded by trees and flowing water, has a quiet, understated power. Roosevelt’s deeds and words are enshrined in relief along the walls, while a serene statue of FDR gazes benignly at the visitors. He was a Democrat, Mr. Bush considered, but he was a war president just like me. Also a mediocre student in college, even if he edited the Harvard newspaper while I was only a cheerleader at Yale. Plus he was a legacy, just like I was.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself” read the president. That's what I was gettin' across with my color-coded terror alert system, he thought. Mr. Bush loved the idea that the site’s seven acres are open to touring by bike. And then the president noticed what was beside FDR’s statue. “His dog!” he exclaimed. Fala, FDR’s little Scottie, his constant companion, is still at his side for stony eternity.
Mr. Bush took out his tape measure. “Ought to be enough room here for me’n Barney,” he muttered.
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2007
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