Monday, April 10, 2006

Parental Letter


Dear President and Mrs. Bush:

I hope this letter finds you well. I note that you are both busy doing things to keep yourselves active in your "empty nest" years. But, while it is touching to see former President Bush travel the globe, raising money and awareness for disaster relief, and Mrs. Bush making sure the victims of Katrina are happy and resettled in Houston, I write about a matter which may, alas, have a somewhat negative impact on those admirable pursuits.

I know over the past several years we have spoken, sometimes at length, about your son, George, and the problems he's been facing since his move to Washington. And I know that your avowals and promises that his behavior would improve were every bit as sincere as my own belief in their accuracy. Unfortunately, however, his actions and deportment have, if anything, grown worse over time. The list of his transgressions is extensive and makes for painful reading:

His inability to accept, willingly and sincerely, any responsibility for things he has done remains unchanged; when caught in an egregious bit of recklessness (whether by commission or omission), his response is a token, empty expression of culpability, followed by a complete lack of remediation or, indeed, any change whatsoever in his behavior.

His lying, too, proceeds apace. From his categorical assertions about Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction, to his repeated claims that there were Al Qaeda terror cells in pre-invasion Iraq, to his recent proclamations that all is going well in that country, he continues to display a rather dismaying indifference to the distinctions between fact, opinion, and wishful thinking. (I will pass over his oft-repeated claim that he speaks to God -- Who, in turn, he implies, speaks to him; such a matter is best left to you, your son, and your respective clergy.)

I find myself particularly chagrined at several especially juvenile aspects of George's personality, including cheating (e.g., his shameful withholding from Congress the true cost of his Medicare program), bullying (cf. his "gang's" plot to betray the identity of Valerie Plame, his firing of Gen. Shinseki, and his traducing and dismissing of anyone who disagrees with him), his "playing hooky" (must he go on so many, and such extended, vacations?), and his penchant for blaming others, such as the poor, bereft residents of New Orleans -- who, he suggested, were responsible for their own inability to leave that city when cataclysmic danger threatened.

His lack of participation is also of concern: that he could be present at a briefing concerning the impending Gulf Coast hurricane without taking notes, asking a single question, or in any way contributing to the discussion, was as vexing as it was disappointing. He looked like nothing so much as a person who couldn't wait for the session to end and for recess to begin.

As for his habitual inability -- or mere unwillingness -- to do his homework, that, too, has not improved. He had no exit strategy when he "led" our troops into Iraq. Despite ample resources and forewarning, he took no steps to prevent the wholesale looting of that country; and indeed his entire indifference to matters of science, history, geography, meteorology, and diplomacy mark him as one of the least diligent and "prepared" presidents of all time. Of his sympathy, expressed or implied, for creationism and so-called "intelligent design," the less said, the better.

You had both promised me, when I raised these issues during his first term, that this behavior on his part was anomalous, and stemmed from the fact that he "was new at all this" and "had fallen in with the wrong crowd." You insisted that as soon as he escaped their influence, his record would improve. I must tell you, however, that he is still associating with these people, and there is no sign we'll see much of a difference in his performance between now and the end of his second term.

It is, therefore, with heavy heart that I must ask you to come and take your son home.

In addition, as any parent whose child has borrowed the family car for a "joy ride" and gotten into an accident knows, it is the adult caregiver of record who is held financially responsible for any and all damages the child incurs. I think I may state without fear of contradiction that we have bent over backwards and "looked the other way" with regards to the (sometimes shocking) expenses run up by your son. However, our accountants and attorneys have now informed us that we are to insist that you make reparation for all of George's mistakes. (Please see itemized bill, attached. You may, if you wish, round the sum off to the nearest hundred billion. Kindly make the check payable to "U.S. Treasury.")

I hate to see anyone go so far astray, and I'm especially saddened that it's your son. I remember thinking, during his early days among us, that he was a late bloomer, and that he could really turn his life around and make you -- and us -- proud. We are deeply sorry we were not able to help him realize that hope. And we're even sorrier that his record will severely inhibit the chances of his brother who, as you have said, has wanted to follow in his footsteps.

We will, out of respect for you, try to keep these offenses and criticisms off of George's permanent record, but with the speed and ubiquity of today's Internet, that plan seems highly unrealistic.

Please let me know when you will be arriving to pick him up and we'll make the appropriate arrangements. And as soon as you can pay off his debts, the sooner we can put this all behind us.

With sincerest regrets,
John Q. Public


Never wear anything that panics the cat.

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