Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Medal of Freedom, or THE STING ... you decide

Apologies and a slight blog lapse explanation: those who know me, know that this is my busy season, from now through April 15th. Yes, I'm afraid I have disappeared into my tax dungeon again.

Today I needed a break, so I started watching Hillary Clinton being grilled in the Senate. Quickly tiring of that charade, which I'm sure you'll be seeing snips of on a variety of TV channels, I browsed up to C-Span2 to catch today's Medal of Freedom ceremony. See, I watch these things so you don't have to!

You can watch it on C-Span yourself, or read my *cough* report:

Bush charged down the aisle and took the stage, nodding to Blair, Howard and Uribe who are seated to his right. A voice-over tells us the Medal of Freedom was created by Executive Order in 1963.

Bush says it's the highest civilian award, conveying utmost esteem of the people and president of the united states for exemplary achievement. Given to eminent citizens of the U.S. and some foreign countries, of which past examples include Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela, for statesmanship at home and abroad. [notice he does not mention MoFer George Tenant as an example of exemplary achievement at home or abroad]

Now it's time for Bush to cite a few reasons why these three are receiving the MoF today...

He calls Blair his "gallant friend" as he fondly remembers finding out they both use Colgate Toothpaste [I'm not kidding, that was his Blair personal story moment]. He says Blair understands the stakes of the War on Terror, says he is dedicated to democratic values and cites his position as Quartet Envoy for Peace in the Middle East [yo! Tone! how's that working out for ya?] ....

Bush then turns to former Australian P.M. Howard, calling him a "sturdy friend" [nicer phrase than "that bald guy" which Bush has called Howard in the past]. He explains that Howard has spent a lot of years in politics [oh, so an MoF criterion is longevity?], making a comeback 2 decades ago "like Lazarus with a triple by-pass" to eventually serve longer than all other Australian P.M.s but one [where's THAT guy's MoF?]. He cites Howard's commitment to the free market [give me a break], readiness to repel those who would take our freedoms away, and braveness in defence of freedom, as stated by Howard himself on September 10, 2001, a fact that much impresses Bush. He says the two of them enjoy a close relationship of honesty and moral clarity [okay, getting weird now]. He likes that Howard stands his ground [said wistfully, as if we should all be recognizing that Bush, too, stands his ground and is, therefore, worthy of our respect, maybe even some kind of medal]. Bush fails to mention how Howard stood with him to prevent the Obamas from settling into some of the 119-rooms at Blair House during transition, even though both Blair and Uribe had agreed to stay elsewhere. Yup, Howard is a real team player!

On to Uribe ... Bush attempts an accurate latin pronunciation of Alvaro Uribe's name, managing to provoke a small audience chuckle. Calling him "mi amigo", Bush lists some of Uribe's accomplishments as Presidente of Colombia, a failed narco state. Bush cites Uribe's campaign themes of: Strong Hand! Big Heart! Resolute! Uncompromising! [once again it is like he is asking us to see these things in himself, forget Uribe]. Thanks to Uribe, according to Bush, the people of Colombia are reclaiming their country from forces of violence. Bush then launches into what he calls one of the most memorable events of his presidency: a phone call from Uribe saying a group of hostages, including 3 americans, were rescued. [hmmm, I guess this would be a highlight of an otherwise dismal 8 years]. Bush closes with how Uribe has refused to allow his country to be destroyed by an enemy from within [once again, this feels like Bush's view of himself] and how Uribe opposes terror, blah blah ....

[anyone else notice Tony Blair got the shortest review by Bush?] ...

OK! Part I is over, on to Part II, wherein a Military Aide formally reads the citations [Bush does not speak again until the very end; his part here is to hang the friggin medal around ea recipient's neck] ...

TONY BLAIR [stands up looking at audience, but before they can acknowledge him, Bush calls him over to his side with a hand gesture strongly reminiscent of how a master calls his faithful dog ... audience laughs heartily]: The Medal of Freedom is awarded to Tony Blair for helping to secure freedom for the people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone [I'm sure they'll all be relieved to know who "helped" them], for establishing a new peace in Northern Ireland [ditto], and promoting peace around the globe, especially in Africa and as Quartet Representative to the Middle East. [Bush then tries to hang the Medal of Freedom around Blair's neck, working from the front side, face to face. Blair bends forward a little to make it easier, so it looks like a man-kiss moment. Tony does a quick nodding bow and walks back to his seat having the decency to look slightly embarrassed] ...

JOHN WINSTON HOWARD [jackrabbits out of his seat, straightens tie, stands up tall, striving hard, but failing, to reach Bush's height. Howard is sweating, obviously nervous]: The Medal of Freedom is awarded to John Howard for unwavering dedication to democracy and freedom. As P.M. of Australia, Howard helped deliver unparalleled prosperity to his people through free market principles [wait, aren't these the same free market principles that have resulted in the current global economic meldown?]. He combats terrorism, promotes democracy and rule of law [that must be the arcane "Heywood Jablome Rule of Law"], and lifelong efforts to spread hope & freedom throughout the world. [Bush approaches from the rear this time, apparently not wanting a Howard man-kiss, but fumbles and ties the MoF a little too tight, causing Howard to laugh & pretend to choke. Bush then claps Howard on the back, a reverse Heimlich, and sends him scurrying back to his seat] ...

ALVARO URIBE [looking very serious, Uribe slowly walks over to Bush's side. Bush stiff-arm punches him, provoking a small smile & audience chuckle]: The Medal of Freedom is awarded to Uribe for championing the Rule of Law [gag], deep commitment to prosperity and peace, being a courageous partner of the U.S. [probably a reference to Colombia not joining the International Criminal Court], and being a model for his country, seeking reconciliation and respect for human dignity. [Bush fastens the MoF around Uribe's neck, from the rear, finally getting this act down on the 3rd try. Both Uribe and Bush display phony forced smiles. Uribe walks over to shake hands with Blair & Howard while Bush stands to the side, stiff ape arms akimbo; audience gives polite applause, Cheney in the front row] ....

Part III: Bush grabs the podium to announce, "Laura and I invite you all to stay for a RECEPTION!" [yes, emphasized, all caps, he yelled out & carefully enunciated the word, R.E.C.E.P.T.I.O.N., obviously a highlight for the Bushes, a chance to use that gaudy china!]...

[everyone wanders offstage ... while the "President's Own" Marine Corp Band plays music vaguely reminiscent of THE STING ... again, I'm not kidding ... someone in the band has a great sense of humor]

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill ... Hillary Clinton is still being grilled by the Senate, and Obama is signaling he wants the 2nd TARP tranche released, hopefully with greater oversight this time.

OK, back to the tax dungeon!

4 comments:

Cart said...

Well that saved my the torture of watching this mob make arses of themselves. Bush is obviously impressed by the Aussie rule - never leave your mates behind...

D.K. Raed said...

Cart: see what a good public servant I am ... sparing you from witnessing the idiot handing out shiny pieces of metal & ribbons to his pals, ummmm, mates. He certainly never leaves any of his rich and/or powerful friends behind. Aussie rules!

Fran said...

Jeez! You are somehow making the tax dungeon look good???!!! No easy task!

You get extra points for just being able to watch the old dolt. I've had all of "W" I can take anymore. Just want to see him behind bars.

D.K. Raed said...

Fran: the tax dungeon is pretty dismal. Seeing the MoF ceremony was a welcome break.

Blair was very hangdoggy (and responded in an appropriately doggy way when called by his master). Howard was Mr. Peppy, so happy to be getting some attention!

Uribe seemed like he didn't understand a word (I don't know if he's fluent in Bushlish), but he looked like he was taking it deadly seriously. The only time he smiled was more like a grimace of pain when Bush punched him in the arm.

My gawd, it'll feel so good to see the last of that asshole
frat boy. Let the grown-ups govern for a change!