I watched Bush’s ultimatum speech Monday. Actually, I listened to it on the radio. (I just couldn’t bear to watch him straining to make that concerned-compassionate-and-constipated face for 13 long, grueling minutes.) Shortly after the speech, I walked through the streets of Ann Arbor, watching people throw up green beer and pee on cars. I heard the Outkast song “Bombs Over Baghdad” being blasted from three separate houses. (We all get it, guys. Baghdad. Hilarious.)

Charles Paradis

Although I’m certain the celebratory atmosphere was based in deep religious devotion to St. Patrick and not in anticipation of the invasion of Iraq, it still seemed absolutely surreal to see people so light-hearted (and piss-drunk) on the eve of war, an occasion that should warrant some measure of solemnity. But really, this whole campaign has been rife with absurdity from day one. Let’s recall some of the more farcical nuggets of late.

Freedom Fries

I’m sure this started out as a joke, but even Congressmen should know better. France, in an attempt to oppose the U.S. government’s raging war-stiffy, decided that the best way to negotiate would be to stick its fingers in its ears and go “LALALALALALA” until we agreed not to invade Iraq. Naturally, members of the U.S. government were outraged at the threats of vetoes: How dare the leaders of France allow public opinion and overwhelming anti-war sentiment to influence their policy?

Two Republican Representatives decided that the best way to show their “strong displeasure with the actions … of our so-called-ally” was to take a cue from a restaurant owner in North Carolina and change “french fries” to “freedom fries” on food court menus, a throwback to the days of World War I and the renaming of “sauerkraut” as “liberty cabbage” as a middle finger to Germany. In the days following the change, some restaurants have followed suit, now selling freedom fries as a sign of their anti-French feelings.

I don’t think those Congressmen (or anyone else taking the anti-French action as a sign of widespread American discontent) should be too proud of their achievement. Getting Americans to rally around anti-French rhetoric is like shooting fish in a barrel. No, actually, it’s easier. It’s like shooting a fish that is taped to the end of your gun … Whatever – it’s really easy.

Beside the fact that French fries are not fucking French, does anyone really think that the French care in the least? And to those who would retort by saying that it is an attempt to show American solidarity, not an attempt to rile the French, I say OK, fine – but it’s a stupid attempt, and don’t you Congressmen have better things to do? Last time I checked, this country had some wacky domestic problems that needed attending to, like the “economy” and “soaring unemployment.”

(By the way, as long as we’re erasing French words from the English language, I’ve got one that Republican Congressmen are sure to be familiar with – “Adultery” comes from the Old French adultere … Might want to start brainstorming for a catchy new word.)

The “Liberal” Media

The debate between the left and the right is constant. Either the media are part of a corrupt liberal entity constantly pushing the liberal agenda or they are snugly in Bush’s pocket, regurgitating whatever he says complete with flashy graphics and sexy slogans. It’s obviously not that simple … Except, of course, when it comes to Fox News. Their coverage of the pre-war has been reckless to put it mildly.

But their insanity is nothing new. Remember last year when Bush announced in a speech suicide-bombers would be known henceforth as “homicide bombers?” Five minutes later, you could hear reporters on Fox News using the phrase like it was an official part of the English language. A little Orwellian to say the least.

The other day, a Fox News moderator was interviewing a variety of talking heads, including Yahya Mahmassani, the Arab League Ambassador to the U.N. And wouldn’t you know it – just when Mahmassani started to pose some interesting questions (e.g. Why the U.S. couldn’t hold off invasion for just a few weeks now that inspectors were starting to make some headway?), the moderator was forced to interrupt him to cut to some critical and extremely relevant footage of a tired and goofy-looking Bush getting off the place from the Azores and waving to reporters. Sorry, Yahya. Some other time.

Saint Bush

I would really like to believe that Bush’s motivation for going to war is a simple and innocent matter of getting his little Texan hands on a whole mess of oil and getting revenge on the guy who tried to kill his dad, but the Commander-in-Chief is making it exceedingly difficult to believe that with all his God talk. When he speaks of wanting to bring “God’s gift of liberty … to every human being in the world,” I get this creepy, crusade vibe.

Now, I don’t truly believe that the war is a Christian crusade to retake the East and suppress Islam, but when he says stuff like “the terrorists hate the fact that … we can worship Almighty God the way we see fit,” it’s hard not to get conspiratorial about his motives. When he refers to the leaders of Iraq as “lawless men,” a harmless enough phrase, I can’t help remembering the fact that the Anti-Christ, the people who killed Jesus and just about every “evildoer” in the Bible is referred to as a “lawless man.” But I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

I have to say, however, God-boy has some serious cojones. In his speech Monday, he addressed the Iraqi people, and one of the first things he instructed them to do was, “Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people.” The second thing he told them was not to use Weapons of Mass Destruction on Americans or Iraqis. Priorities, anyone?

One of the last things Mahmassani said before he was cut off was that Bush seemed to be deciding when to go to war in an arbitrary manner, as if he was basing his decision on the weather. Well Yahya, here in the U.S. it’s raining premium gas at $1.91 per gallon.

Andy Taylor-Fabe can be reached at andytayl@umich.edu.

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