Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quote of the day: Hendrik Hertzberg offers his take on the rocky start to the new era (or perhaps "news cycle") of cooperation in Washington


"Who knows, really, what this President has been taught by this month’s election? The present President Bush, after all, is a decider of decisions, not a learner of lessons. And he likes to decide that he was right all along."
--Hendrik Hertzberg, in his New Yorker "Comment" piece this week (Dec. 4), "It's His Biparty"

In the wake of the midterm congressional election, Hertzberg notes, President Bush announced "a new era of cooperation" with the Democrats who are preparing to take over control of both houses. Hertzberg suggests, though, that "The new era of coöperation may or may not be definitively dead, but at the moment it appears to have been not so much an era as a news cycle."

He runs down the most blatant symptoms (with appropriate descriptive detail):

• resubmission of the failed nomination of U.N. Åmbassador John Bolton [right--"the man's resemblance to Yosemite Sam does not end with his mustache"] to his job (with discussion of backup plans to keep Bolton on the job without Senate approval beyond the term permitted by his recess appointment)

* renomination of the highly partisan ideological hack Kenneth B. Tomlinson, whom one would have thought had come out on the dark side of enough government investigations by now to be disqualified from any kind of legitimate employment, to be chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors

• renomination of four of the least qualified candidates ever to be considered, let alone actually nominated, for federal judgeships

• appointment of "one Eric Keroack," a certifiable fake-Christian loon, to be in charge of "population affairs" at the Dept. of Health and Human Services (this one you have to hear about--see below for more)

He concludes:

Perhaps what we are seeing is one last White House attempt to reënergize the legendary "base," after which the new era of coöperation will resume. Or perhaps the President has simply reverted to type. Last week, he found himself in Vietnam, where the United States once fought a big, bloody, disastrous war of choice. In Hanoi, which under its nominally Communist rulers is more vibrantly capitalist than Ho Chi Minh City ever was when it was called Saigon, he was asked if the American experience in Vietnam offered any guidance about Iraq. "One lesson is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while," he replied, and added, "We'll succeed unless we quit." What did he mean? That the peaceable, bustling, unthreatening (if unfree) Vietnam of today represents an American success, made possible by the fact that we didn't quit until fifty-eight thousand Americans and three million Vietnamese were dead? Or that it represents an American failure, which would have been averted by another decade of war, another fifty-eight thousand, another three million? Who knows? And who knows, really, what this President has been taught by this month's election? The present President Bush, after all, is a decider of decisions, not a learner of lessons. And he likes to decide that he was right all along.

ABOUT DR. KEROACK—"a sort of family-friendly version of General Jack D. Ripper"

Here's what Hertzberg has to say about our new chief of "population services" in HHS:

On November 16th, Bush appointed one Eric Keroack to be the new chief of "population affairs" at the Department of Health and Human Services. In this post, Dr. Keroack, a gynecologist, will oversee what is called Title X, a Nixon-era program that distributes contraceptives to poor or uninsured women. Until recently, he was the medical director of a Christianist pregnancy-counselling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women." One of his odder theories makes him a sort of family-friendly version of General Jack D. Ripper. In Keroack's case, the precious bodily fluid of concern is the hormone oxytocin, a.k.a. "God's Super Glue." Apparently, oxytocin is released during certain enjoyable activities, including hugging, massage, and, of course, sex. It is also, according to Keroack, the fluid that keeps married couples bound to each other. Therefore, if a young woman squanders her supply on too much fooling around, she can forget about ever becoming a committed wife. Keroack's appointment, unlike the others, does not, alas, require Senate confirmation.


Even before I originally posted this item, I worried whether everyone would know who Gen. Jack D. Ripper is. If you don't know, or just would like to see a picture (hey, we've also got Gen. Buck Turgidson and President Merkin Muffley), click here.


At 11:41 AM, Anonymous teach said...

That is one creepy looking guy. That any woman would ever go to him for anything is amazing to me. Ew-w and Ew-w.

I have been using this as a hand out in my bioethics class about the Bush administration and reproductive control.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger keninny said...

Yes, isn't that a lovely photo?


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