The Witzelsucht Memorandum
-Where sarcasm is mistaken for satire-
Welcome back! We'll help Donald Rumsfeld find his way out of the woodshed in a sec, but first...
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SWISH FORA hearty Wit Memo "congrats!" to giga-star TOM CRUISE for the stunning $10 million defamation judgment he won January 16 against Chad Slater, the gay porn/"male wrestling" actor who claimed in a tabloid to have enjoyed a homosexual affair with the Top Gun. The "Vanilla Sky" star's lawyers acknowledged that the verdict is symbolic, since Slater hasn't the money, and was won solely to prevent “losing the respect and enthusiasm of a substantial segment of the movie going public."
We've sure that Mr. Cruise will successfully maintain the respect and enthusiasm of his audience ... every bit as successfully as did the only other big-time entertainment celeb we know of who won a defamation suit after being identified in a tabloid as a homosexual.
"GOVERNOR CORLEONE, SENATOR CORLEONE . . .PRESIDENT CORLEONE?!?"Oh, Paulie? Won't see him no more..."-Clemenza, to Sonny Corleone, on the death of Paulie Gatto, The Godfather, 1972.
"Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem."-George Bush, to America, on the death of Al Qaeda terrorists, State of the Union Address, 2003.It was the only movie reference and the funnest line in the speech ... how dare fuddy-duddy A.E.I economist Norm Ornstein pronounce it "bad taste" that made him "wince." Go sew another leather elbow patch on your tweed jacket, pal.
SECRETARY, DEFENSIVEWhen Secretary of Defense DONALD RUMSFELD declared that the United States is capable of fighting wars on two fronts, Wit Memo thought, "is that all?"
Just two? Only two? And that's supposed to be a cause of confidence?
Not that prosecuting two wars doesn't have a certain pulse-quickening allure: "two at once, two at the same time" -- isn't that every man's fantasy? It's also a relief to learn that eight years of supposed Clintonian neglect and outright hostility didn't dilapidate our military might quite as much as we'd been told. But still, isn't "Rummy" setting his sights -and our sights-- rather low? In boasting of a two-front capability, he's settling for a shopworn standard of days long gone, one that we eclipsed fully a half century ago, long before we were universally acclaimed the world's only super power, in fact, the world's only super-duper power.
Even the most abject victim of modern American public schooling probably knows on some unconscious level that in World War II we were victorious on two fronts --- three, if you count Italy. Those were years-long conflicts against very powerful and technologically advanced nations bent on world domination, not Powell-doctrine blitzkriegs with decisive advantages in technology, firepower, and discipline. In WWII we were the ones at a disadvantage, initially: the Germans had bigger tanks, the first jet planes, and more monocles. And when papers are reporting that Al Qaeda leadership, including The Evil One, as POTUS put it before dropping him from that nick name list, escaped Tora Bora partly because American brass balked at deploying infantry, we'd all do well to remember the horrors that young American soldiers endured at places like Tarawa and Palau. There they earned the title of "the greatest generation." Which, by the way, set the bar unfairly high for their kids.
And we weren't the only ones multitasking in WWII. Britain did, too, despite no longer being a superpower, even back then, and long before that tiny Holland had troops in combat all over the place -- Africa, Indonesia. And they're a bunch of pot heads, for goodness sake.
And now we're about to go to war while we've got a Secretary of Defense who settles for a played-out relic of a military objective that tin horn former monarchies mastered over fifty years ago? His boss named three nations to the axis of evil; only being able to take on two of 'em at a time doesn't meet the minimum requirements of the RFP. For someone who's been made out to be a manly warrior ("Mmmmm-hmmmm" says one notorious conservative commentator), he sure wags his gums a lot. We need a Gary Cooper or a John Wayne to steer us through rough seas ahead, not a motor mouth better suited for a Marin County encounter group in the late 1970s.
THE OLD EUROPE: GREAT WAITERS"Rummy" has already apologized for saying that draftees were of no value in Vietnam, so it's too late to help him out there, but if he listens to Wit Memo, he might have a shot at weaseling out of his latest bout of foot-in-mouth. He got in hot water for blithely dismissing France and Germany as "the old Europe," because they're trying to throw cold water on our war effort.
His way out? Get the word out that by "Old Europe," he meant the restaurant of that name in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington, DC, noted for game dishes, imported draft beer, and longevity.
In speaking of France and Germany, Rumsfeld said, "I think that's old Europe," a statement susceptible of more than one meaning. His spokeswoman Victoria Clarke has a lot more to work with than she did with his "no value" remark, and should venture something along the lines of:"When the Secretary thinks of our ally Germany, when he thinks of the German people, of German culture, and especially of German cuisine, and also when he thinks about those regions of our ally France whose culture and cuisine have a distinctly Germanic flavor; when the Secretary Rumsfeld thinks of all these things and wants a feel of them close to his home and place of work in the nation's capital, then he thinks, 'well, by golly, to me, that's Old Europe, on Wisconsin Avenue, noted for game dishes, imported draft beer, and longevity.'
"And speaking about lack of longevity, how 'bout that Saddam Hussein, huh? Am I right?"
AS IF IT WEREN'T DEPRESSING ENOUGH BY ITSELFThanks to CSPAN for proving that not all wacko nimrods have gravitated to the Internet, that CB radio for every conspiracy crank with a bad attitude, worse grammar, and a “Caps Lock” key.
A uniquely depressing part of the Columbia coverage was the number of callers to CSPAN's “open phone line” claiming that they “saw something” --the something being a missile or other fast-moving object-- streaking up to the shuttle in the moments before it broke apart.
Never mind that the sky was gorgeously blue and clear as a bell, and that not we, not anyone we know, and not anyone on TV saw anything amiss during the innumerable showings of the footage. Two male callers to CSPAN (where the host lets them run on and never offers any comment beyond "our next call is from Bug Tussle, Texas") saw something like a red "streak," a streak that one of them said streaked to the shuttle and then back again. A verbose woman was certain she saw “it,” as in, “and I said to myself, 'I see it! Yes, I see it!'” After taking time to remind the rest of the callers to turn down their TVs and radios when calling in, she described seeing the Columbia apparently intercepted by a craft resembling “a shuttle, a little shuttle.” This little shuttle, she said, was missing from subsequent replays. One poor fellow voiced great worry about a commuter plane he swore could be seen nearby in the shot. That day's coverage made us sad, but only CSPAN's made us sad about the people under whose flag the Columbia had flown. It won't be long before the conspiracy cranks really get their hooks into this one; at least this time they won't be yammering about Israelis who stayed home from work.
Coming soon: How One Liberal Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Ann Coulter