By Kelly Jean Cogswell
You never know who you'll run into when you leave the house, even in Paris. Sunday I ran into my old pal, George W. Bush, who was stuck in the middle of a towering New Guinea bis pole at the Quai Branly Museum. At least I thought it was him.
The figure staring into the room had the same thin, pinched lips and squinty eyes George gets when someone asks him about the war. He was naked, and lean as I imagine, scrunched up in a kind of fetal position, but had something resembling a tin pot or helmet over his privates which was too bad.
I was wondering how he was hung. Now, I'll never know. It was the figure above him which had an enormous protruding lattice-carved dick that was bigger than my whole apartment. The face didn't look like Cheney's, but I'd recognize the prick anywhere.
The pole and figures were carved out of an upended mandrake tree with one of the lower roots reserved to be the giant penis. The figures on the pole commemorate the dead, often warriors. When their ceremonial purpose is done you stake them in the ground in some sacred grove until they rot, exchanging power with the earth, or something like that.
I should have paid more attention to the threat, but I was too distracted by George's captivatingly bitter face. My girlfriend saw the resemblance too, though she remarked his nose had grown. What can you expect after so many years of lying in office? Which also explains why the tree up his butt has merged finally with his spine.
Staring at the sour, wooden face of a dead-in-the-water warrior president, I tried to imagine what he would regret most in the future, the war in Iraq, maybe, or that he did, or did not, invade Iran. I suspect geopolitics will be the least of it, or the failed economy. What will haunt him at night will be the mystery of why he's no longer adored.
Democrats always hated him, of course, rabid and dismissive to the detriment of political strategy, but Independent and Republican voters were enchanted with the comfortable drawl that scorned career politicians and eggheads like Al Gore.
He had a solid Christian faith and knew how to express it. He flattered the working class with the idea that if an ordinary, cowboy hat wearing guy like him could make it, anybody could. He wouldn't let those Dems take their bottom dollar in taxes. Likewise, he preached a non-involvement, hands-off isolationism in international politics, not like that interfering Bill Clinton. For all that he got kudos, applause, and the requisite few thousand votes he needed to squeak in. He even wall-papered his campaign with faces of color to prove what a nice guy he was.
And if he'd stuck to his program instead of getting mired in Iraq, maybe he'd of been able to pull out of his pre-9/11 slump and keep Republican dominance in Congress, and later the White House, assuming that not too many of the GOP got caught with their hands in the till (or in their pants whacking off) because the nature of America hasn't really changed.
Voters are less pro-Democrat than simply repulsed by the reality of Bush and the Republicans who stuck only to their anti-queer, anti-abortion planks in their platform.
Unfortunately, political memories are short. Instead of Democratic soul-searchers asking, "Why did we lose the country in the first place?" They've moved straight on to, "How do we take advantage of their delicious screw-ups?"
It's just as much a failure of analysis as my wooden Bush blaming "Big" Dick Cheney for his loss of popularity. So the guy attends state functions in ominous black leather gloves designed for hit men to keep their prints off guns. That doesn't explain the war, the economy, the toilet paper Constitution.
For the Democrats to do more than just ride the wave of Republican failure, they'll have to address what made Bush so effective in the first place, or in a couple of years that pole will get replanted in the Republican grove and an identical monster will emerge once again conjuring those old ideals of independence, self-reliance, and general goodness which are so consistently appealing to American voters.
And why not? The problem isn't the myths, but how they get twisted into isolationism, bigotry, self-indulgence, and fanaticism.
It's the role of Democrats to persuade Americans that we can find a middle way, especially when it comes to the international scene. We can and must play a role, but it doesn't have to mean body bags or black financial holes. In fact, let's hear it for diplomacy. Talk is cheap, compared to bombers and bullets and lives.