Edge of the West
Extreme Makeover: White House Edition
By Ron Scott Smith
Oct 9, 2005 - 7:25:00 PM

WASHINGTON D.C."I can assure you I won't get in the way."

 

So said the president to NBC's David Gregory as he was about to travel to someplace very proper sounding in all capital letters called NORTHCOM somewhere in Colorado where he would offer new and improved hands on leadership of the US response to Rita. A reporter for a major news organization has to gently ask the president of the United States if it may not be best for him and the country to, uh, kind of, stay out of the way, sir?

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Dylan's back, just in the nick of time. You want to talk about "Desolation Row"? On Sunday, Sept. 25, the pro-Iraq-war forces, be what they may, held a rally at the National Mall in Washington D.C. to demonstrate their support of the president, the troops, the war, all of it. D.C. police estimated that oh, say 400 people attended throughout the day, but that appeared to be high. Here's how bad it was. When I stumbled onto it on C-Span Sunday evening, I actually felt embarrassed for this bunch, especially for the guy who had to get up and open the show with a rabble-rousing keynote speech to all of what looked to be about 28 people out there on the front end of the thing, hooting, hollering, hanging on every "freedom-on-the-march" and "stay the course" that he laid on them. Of course there were a few old-school "love-it-or-leave-its" thrown in to get the hate flowing properly. But mostly, oddly, there were words of gratitude to a president for providing the opportunity for so many good sons and daughters to die for a noble cause.

Well hold on just one minute and go back just one day. What noble cause? That's all Cindy Sheehan wanted to have explained to her on behalf of her dead son when she camped out at the end of the Bush vacation driveway in Crawford for three weeks. If he had talked to her then she would not have become the figurehead for a burgeoning anti-war movement that came to a head at the same National Mall, a day before the Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club pro-war thing. An estimated 300,000 protestors came out on Saturday, hoping to issue Bush his wake-up call.

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He woke up alright. On Monday, Sept. 26,  he had the 48-year-old Ms. Sheehan arrested and forcefully removed from the public sidewalk outside his freshly-painted white mansion while hundreds of Sheehan supporters chanted "The whole world is watching," and you'd best believe the whole world would be savoring the spectacle of a couple of very large armed, uniformed, helmeted cops picking the frail-looking lady up and rooting her out of the president's sight.

Out of sight, out of mind. Out of his mind is what he must be thinking he is right about now for not taking five minutes to meet with her in August. But so has gone his decision-making. It's as if the smoke machine stopped smoking and the mirrors are all broken, because the emperor has become fully exposed and has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, not even Crawford.

Staying on vacation there for three extra days while his nation's Gulf Coast disappeared under Katrina was the big one, the blunder he will never overcome. But just to keep it real, when he finally went to what used to be Biloxi, he said to the Arabian horse trainer who he hand-picked to head up FEMA, "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job." Now every deaf, dumb and blind kid knew by then that Brownie was a disaster in charge of a disaster, and he was gone by the end of the first weekend of the recovery effort. Seems one of Brownie's strategic moves when he took over was to outsource the FEMA switchboard jobs to save a few bucks because it's been reported that calls for help are routinely answered in India.

Next, the president signs Halliburton, of course, to a no-bid contract to take on much of the reconstruction of New Orleans, even though that opportunistic bunch is still under investigation for malfeasance in Iraq, where some nine billion American dollars are still unaccounted for.

Think that's ripe? He then tells them they can go ahead and hire people at dirt-cheap wages by suspending the Davis-Bacon Act, which compels workers under federal contract to receive the prevailing local wage, which was already an amazingly low $9 per hour. Are these guys going to be working at minimum wage? Yeah, because Bush says money is tight, real tight, and we all have to suck it up and take one for the team. But don't worry, his signature tax cuts will not be messed with, he was quick to assure us. Amen, sir. Leave my tax cut alone. Lose the Davis-Bacon thing, don't make anybody bid on the reconstruction jobs, but leave my tax cut alone. I need a new frying pan. Uh, then again, where's the money going to come from for all the Halliburton contracts? I suggest you put a lock on the medicine cabinets, seniors.

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Some lucky family in Biloxi will probably have a brand-spanking-new, locking medicine cabinet in a spiffed up bathroom after Laura Bush gets done with her new task. You see, the White House has asked the producers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, to allow the first lady to join the cast for an episode in Biloxi. I couldn't make this up if I tried. It'll probably go along the lines of, "Mrs. Bush, could you grab the other end of this mattress?"- as executive producer Tom Foreman said. Pick a pile of rubble, any pile of rubble, see it transformed right before your very eyes. I can't take the suspense. Who will be the lucky one? I think I know.

"Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." That's what the president said on that first visit to Biloxi. Mr. Lott, come on down.

Meet Ms. Bush.



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