I'm with you, I'd be perfectly happy to never think about Bush's State of the Union speech again. Was it really only a week ago? It didn't even have the traumatic heft to stick in your mind like a real disaster does; it was just unfortunate. It fades from the memory, like Kaavya Viswanathan, or that TV show, "Ed."
But there was one part of it, near the end, that's stayed with me. I can't seem to shake it. It's almost gone, and then, gratingly, it's back again. Like the memory of biting into something with sand in it. Or Chlamydia. Or that TV show, "Ed."
It was the section of the speech where Bush gave his shout outs to the heroes in the balcony. The wounded soldier. The lady who sells DVDs to babies. And, somewhere on the heroism scale between a poor kid full of shrapnel and a rich woman in direct-to-video, Wesley Autrey.
In the President's words:
"Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks, pulled the man into the space between the rails, and held him as the train passed right above their heads... There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey."
It's the last line that got to me: "There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey." This poor schmo isn't even standing up for his applause yet, and he already has to share it with everyone else. Who's the real hero here? Well, it's all of us. It's America.
Alaska and Hawaii and you too, Dennis Hastert. Let's give ourselves a nice hand. We earned it.
It was such a sleazy piece of rhetorical slight of hand. Proving one thing, once and for all: Wesley Autrey may be faster than a subway, but when it comes to shifting responsibility, no one's quicker than George W. Bush.
What an awesome sentence. "There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey." Everything is wrong with it.
Besides belittling Autrey -- "Sure, he jumped on the tracks, but he would never have done it without our system of government. And maybe the tax cuts" -- it also insults every other nation on earth. "Japs? The Irish? Yeah, right. Like you'd ever see one of them help another human... and Madagascar? I hear they grease their subway platforms on purpose and the only time they stop the trains is when the strollers get jammed in the wheels."
It also manages to commit two - wait, three? - logical fallacies in just seventeen words. The fallacy of converse accident - Wesley Autrey is an American, he saved a guy from a subway, therefore all Americans, given the chance, will save a guy from a subway -- the fallacy of illicit process - Wesley Autrey saved a guy, making all Americans heroes -- and the fallacy of false cause -- Wesley Autrey's nationality makes him jump in front of subways.
We all would do it. We all did do it. We all made him do it. I mean, that's impressive. (Although it can't touch Donald Rumsfeld's "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." That's the Abbey Road of flawed logic. It's so rich; it just keeps giving.) But it's still good.
And what about the man Autrey saved, first-year film student Cameron Hollopeter? Also an American. What does he prove? Is there something wonderful about a country that produces people who stumble onto the tracks?
Bush speaks, and sounds come out, but they don't actually track at all. It's almost like he's a cretin.
Luckily, that doesn't seem to have held him back.
One of the other knocks on the Commander-in-Chief is that he hates black people. I'm almost sure that's only partially true. But he didn't help himself by not mentioning Katrina once during his speech. And what's really sad is he could have used Autrey to make up for that. And it would have only taken a few words.
"There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey, by abducting his ancestors, and bringing them here in chains."
Hey, devil worshippers!
Back in the '60s, Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, wrote:
"Hate your enemies with a whole heart, and if a man smite you on the cheek, SMASH him on the other! ... Life is the great indulgence -- death, the great abstinence. Therefore, make the most of life -- HERE AND NOW!"
It's 2007. How does it feel to be in the conservative mainstream on foreign policy and the national debt?