In the 1950’s “The Amazing Criswell,” who looked like a combination of Liberace and Bela Lugosi, was a psychic on TV. On YouTube type “Criswell on Carson” to see how genuinely bizarre he was, and how genuinely funny Johnny Carson was.
I always thought I was a decent prognosticator of sorts until 2000. Because of the unbelievably close election, I predicted that Bush would be forced to govern from the middle and, as a result, might be one of our best presidents (instead of one of our worst).
But when W started his “faith based” agenda and John Ashcroft started covering nude statues, I cringed. But, in my worst nightmares, I could never have predicted the colossal damage Bush would cause.
Because of Bush’s “my way or the highway” I had no compassion during his many mishaps: like when he fell of the Segway Transporter, or choked on the pretzel, or, in China, when he couldn’t find the right door to exit.
And the time Bush called on a reporter who wasn’t even in the room, revealing questioners were selected in advance and his press conferences were a sham. So much for freedom of the press.
If I ever had any sympathy for W it was when publishers swarmed the White House to sign Laura’s book deal while ignoring George. There was probably more interest in a book about Barney (who had bitten a reporter, confirming that dogs do take after their owners).
The consensus was that W had ruined the “Bush brand” (just ask Jeb). And yet, Crown Publishing has recently offered Bush $7,000,000 for his memoirs. (If this were Japan, he’d have been offered a hara-kiri knife.)
So temporarily Bush is back in the headlines while Cheney is all over Fox News rewriting history. The Bush/Cheney administration is like a bad horror movie. Just when you think the monster is dead, he re-appears and everyone screams, or in this case, switches the channel.
The tentative title for Bush’s tome is “Twelve Decisions.” Jay Leno suggested an alternate title, “0 for 12.” In a press release, W said the memoir would be “the authoritarian version of his presidency.” Did he mean “authoritative?” Does he know the difference or was this just another Freudian slip?
Bush claims to have already written 30,000 words, which would be impressive, assuming they’re in complete sentences. Being a crack reporter (as opposed to a reporter on crack) I’ve managed to get part of the first draft of Bush’s book, which is due out in 2010. (I’m tingling with anticipation, or maybe it’s just a rash.) Below is the rationale for some of his major decisions.
1) Aug. 6, 2001 PDB: “Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.” possibly using commercial airliners to attack financial centers. But W went on vacation. Apparently the brush at Crawford was really gnarly.
2) Katrina: The issue was whether to fly to flooded New Orleans for moral support or fly to Arizona for John McCain’s birthday? A no brainer. Arizona was dry and Bush loves cake.
3) 9/11 and My Pet Goat: When Bush was told the country was “under attack” he sat frozen for seven minutes, seemingly listening to the kids read. Maybe he was curious to know how “My Pet Goat” ended?
4) Iraq: Why invade a country that was not an imminent threat to the U.S., in a war that will ultimately cost $3 to $5 trillion, when your father, your secretary of state and most of the Pentagon were opposed to it? Bush’s answer, “I listen to my gut.” Translation: “It’s beats thinking.”
5) “Poppy” Bush: Bush Sr. was a war hero, Jr. a draft dodger. Sr. starred on the Yale baseball team, Jr. was a cheerleader. But, as the memoir will undoubtedly point out, Sr. was a one-term president, Jr. served two-terms. (As if we could ever forget.)
6) The Merkel Massage: W gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel a surprise (and clearly unwanted) massage at the G8 meeting in Russia. Why? He was bored and she looked tense, until the massage at which time she looked horrified.
7) Mission Accomplished: W admits the sign was a mistake, but landing on the aircraft carrier and wearing that flight suit was “awesome.”
Other chapters might include: Which is the better cardio workout, jogging or mountain biking? When entertaining dignitaries at Crawford, serve hot dogs or hamburgers? Which is the greater achievement, running up the biggest deficits in history or taking the most vacations?
If “The Amazing Criswell” were alive today, he might predict that Laura’s book would outsell W’s. Then again, he might predict Barney’s would, too. Criswell was a charlatan but harmless. I wish the same could be said of George W. Bush. On that cheery note, Happy Passover and Easter, everybody.
Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.