Monday, April 19, 2004

McDubya's Navy?

Someone needs to take that copy of Titanic out of the Oval Office DVD player. Admittedly, when he paged Don Rumsfeld to “come over and watch Tit Antics!” President Bush thought he was in for a night of breast-related porn. As the titles faded and the doomed ocean liner came into view, however, he yelped ‘Big boat!’ and his fate was sealed.

It seems every time the President feels the need to get all steely-eyed about national security, he starts humming, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and casts around for a big ship to stand on or next to.

He famously thrust about his ‘Padding Accomplished’ crotch on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln with all the subtlety of Janet Jackson at half time. He expounded his ‘tax cuts for CEOs’ plan at shipyards all along the Gulf Coast. Most recently he used a Coast Guard cutter as a backdrop for a manly squinting session in Charleston, SC. He has been known to wear a life ring in cabinet sessions.

He is on dangerous ground here. The Dems have a long history of competent and even daring seamanship. FDR calmly steered the presidential yacht, JFK skippered PT-109, Jimmy Carter was a Navy nuclear engineer, and Bill Clinton’s name will forever be associated with seamen [sic]. Now we have John Kerry, who like the character Martin Sheen (another fictional president) played in Apocalypse Now, spent the Vietnam War up the Mekong in a fast attack boat.

When it comes to hanging around ships, President Bush is less like the rugged little Leo DiCaprio and more akin to the iceberg. In May 2003 Bush told those aboard the Lincoln that the war was as good as over; nine months later hundreds have died and thousands more have been wounded in this accomplished mission, and no end appears in sight. If I were one of those Coasties down in South Carolina I would be very worried that the next palmetto palm I see will be on the shore at Um Qasar, Iraq.

As much as I am loath to help the President with his image, I do have three suggestions for the White House spin machine to assist with Mr. Bush’s nautical chops, if he is going to insist on acting like an old salt. (I might as well get on Karl Rove’s good side lest Bush wins.)

Flood Texas: Although Texas has an extensive coastline, the President’s ranch at Crawford is most definitely landlocked. Given that he spends more time on vacation than any other human being alive, he could capitalize on his twin passions (siestas and pretending to be a sailor) by digging a big trench inland from Galveston and inundating the Lone Star State right up to the gates of his holiday home. Just think how happy Bush would be if real battleships sat moored among the oil wells. Although flooding Texas might result in a waterlogged Molly Ivins, I am sure we can agree that the Atlantis-like disappearance of Houston would be no bad thing.

Johnny Depp it up: last summer’s huge hit at the multiplexes was Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Johnny Depp garnered both critical and audience acclaim as the drunk and eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow. The President could gain instant popularity if he simply began impersonating Keith Richard after an accident in the Disney wardrobe department. If only he could keep from falling over when practicing deep sweeping bows, he’d be all set.

Really join the Navy: Nothing would wow the voters more, and chase away those pesky AWOL accusations, than if the Commander-in-Chief actually saw combat. If Mr. Bush enlisted in the Navy and put himself in harm’s way he would do his manly standing a world of good. Also, he could have a whale of a time on board an aircraft carrier. Just imagine him wearing one of those brightly colored sweaters, peeing off the fantail, and feverishly licking cruise missiles. Besides, even with ship-board email and sat phones, it would be a lot easier to dodge questions about missing WMDs in the middle of the Pacific.

With the help of these tips we could be enjoying maritime-themed presidential high jinks all the way until November. However, while he passes his time standing in the bow shouting “I’m king of the world!” he needs to remember the old British army jibe about Navy types:

“Some people float in magnificent boats, and some people work for a living.”

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