Edge of the West
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I would guess a shovel. A hoe? Whatever, it turned out to be an eventful vacation for the president between, let's say, shovelsful more eventful than he may have liked. The world outside the gates of his Prairie Chapel Ranch must have seemed to be falling apart right before his eyes every time he put down the hoe.
What tool do you use to drain a lake out of a major city drowning in the aftermath of a catastrophic natural disaster? I would guess it would be what they call "high-water-level" equipment. If ever you needed something called "high-water-level" equipment, it would appear to be right about now in New Orleans. But it seems most of the "high-water-level" equipment, vehicles and generators belonging to the Louisiana National Guard are in Iraq, working on another disaster, this one man-made.
What happens when you reach into your pocket for the National Guard, whose main defined task as its name implies is to have this nation's back in times of trouble, and your hands come out empty? Some 6,000 National Guardsmen in Louisiana and Mississippi, who are needed in Hurricane Katrina's deadly wake, are in Iraq along with the "high-water-level" equipment. Biloxi appears to be just about non-existent, but the Mississippi National Guard has only a reported 853 troops on hurricane-duty, while about 3,000 of them watch their homes get washed away on a television set somewhere in Baghdad.
That's just about enough to ruin even the most voracious vacation appetite. A whole lot of good Texas barbecue has been served at the ranch during the Bush vacation to a whole lot of guys who look out of place in the blue jeans with the big shiny belt buckles and the big wallets bulging out of their back pockets. You know they long for the suit. But their jean pockets are the kind the president can confidently reach into and always come out with a handful of what he needs.
So while they chowed down on sides of beef and catfish, down the driveway a heartbroken mother of a soldier killed in Iraq saw her lone vigil morph into a nationwide anti-war movement because her son�s commander in chief stonewalled her request for just a brief moment of explanation with him. As camp breaks and they reflect upon it, the protesting forces may come to realize all they had to do was take up a collection, call it a contribution and give it to Bush. Cindy Sheehan could have easily bought her meeting with the president.
What she would have told him, if she had the money, is "Please, sir, get our soldiers home from Iraq now." And whether you're pro or anti-Bush and the war, that simple idea makes more sense all the time. The mission is really accomplished this time, and the president might just as well accept victory, hard as that may be with this kind of victory. He must step out on the deck of a ship with a bullhorn, and tell us, one and all. Maybe throw a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Tell us they're free now, that they drafted their own constitution, in fact, a point Bush takes great pride in. In the preamble to that constitution, it says, "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of all legislation." Uh oh. Then, "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." He must be sweating bullets, thinking, "Could this be true? Could I have possibly spent 2000 American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi lives to set up a fundamentalist regime probably guided by the mullahs in the dreaded axis-of-evil ringleader, Iran?"
Meanwhile, his favorite conservative pundit, Pat Buchanan, called for his impeachment; his favorite ex-communists, Russia, hooked up with his favorite current communists, China, for massive joint military exercises aimed at guess who? And his favorite rock and roll band, the Rolling Stones, wrote a new song for him, called, "Sweet Neo-Con." One verse goes: "You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite; you call yourself a patriot, I think you're full of sh*t." The Stones are notoriously more party than politics, but even Jagger and Richard could keep this sentiment to themselves no longer.
"There's a lot of hard work we're gonna to have to do," said the tanned, buffed, relaxed leader of America Wednesday afternoon shortly after 2 p.m., some two days after Katrina howled into his southernmost states and laid them to waste. It appears to have been all he could do to cut the vacation short by a day to tend to the ravaged Gulf Coast.
There must have been brush yet to be cleared in Crawford.
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