Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Mice That Squeaked

The so-called Baker-Hamilton "Iraq Study Group" has convened and concluded its dutifully drawn-out deliberations. Its senile senior citizens -- unsuited both for and by the subject matter -- have predictably produced a lame labor of lost love. These mentally menopausal midwives of the middle have pleased and offended none while disappointing all: the true measure of a mundane mountain (otherwise known as a "mound") mightily miscarrying; bringing forth merely a mediocre mouse.

Given the presumptuous pedigree of these anachronistically accredited, i.e., "grandfathered," capitol courtiers, no one should find their "output" unexpected. They have come on call and consecrated the "center" of things both political and American. This monumental meaninglessness has nothing to do with Iraq, of course; but America's War on Iraq, like its previous War on Vietnam, does not now nor did it ever have anything of interest to do with the occupied colonial outpost du jour or its invaded inhabitants. In fact, what H. L. Menken called the (normally one-sided) "strife of the parties at Washington" -- what Barbara Tuchman called "intimidation by the rabid right at home" -- accounts for the truly significant and awfully instructive similarities between that always-denied-but-never-escapable quagmire and this one.

It pains me to pay repetitive reverence to the reactionary former Spiro Agnew speechwriter William Safire (in Ambrose Bierce's phrase, "an enlightened but inferior lexicographer"), but I simply must heap alliterative accolades on these attenuated advisors to an acknowledged ass. How miraculously marvelous: these mawkish milquetoast mavens mildly moaning mealy mouthfuls of mellifluously modulated mush! They have said absolutely nothing while exhausting entire epochs finding just the right sequence of sounds in which to say it! Could we plausibly suppose that they had any but this opaque objective?

This tendentious, tautological travesty has, of course, received much more cerebral and less rhetorical treatment than I could possibly give it. The estimable Frank Rich, for example, has adequately lampooned its fatuous "findings" somewhere in a recent New York Times article that otherwise concerns itself with our peripatetic President and his neurotic penchant for talking to walls (like Dick Cheney) instead of wise men. As Mr. Rich concisely debunks the drivel: "Next up is “pullback,” the Iraq Study Group's reported euphemism to stave off the word “retreat” (if not retreat itself)." Still, although I agree with Mr. Rich's considered comments about the ridiculous "report" in question, I did find puzzling his polite, pro-forma platitude to the effect that he never bought into the notion of stupidity as George W. Bush's defining characteristic. For my part, I have always found such attempts at misguided civility disingenuous if not deluded and dangerous. I can just hear such apologists for aggravated, accelerated adolescence saying: "Just because he thinks stupid things and says stupid things and does stupid things, that doesn't make him stupid." Actually, it does. Most people in this world have to live with the designation if they manifest only one of these symptoms, let alone all three of them.

At any rate, this conflicted concept of the "really" intelligent idiot requires exploration in the rude, rowdy rhetoric and rhyme all seamen prefer to the captain's hearty bullshit about that black cloud on the horizon signaling only another "exhilarating" day of "vigorous" sailing ahead. I'll get right to work on it, starting with the following sketch of a stanza in iambic pentameter:

The walls have spoken and the wise concur
In timid tones less taut than simply slack:
"It begs the question if he talks to walls;
But rather: Does he hear them talking back?"

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