Announcement: I'm Taking August Off, Too

05/25/2011 12:10 pm ET
  • John Seery Professor of Politics at Pomona College

Wow, those Iraqi Parliamentarians have the right idea--take off the entire month of August! I realize that that was a huge sacrifice on their parts--originally they were planning to take off two months, July and August. Dick Cheney's powers of persuasion really, really worked this time. He cut their vacation time in half. Good job, Dick.

To honor these future Ben Franklins and James Madisons, I've decided to take off the entire month of August, too. Just going to kick up my heels and chill. Maybe do some barbequing. Catch up on my hobbies. I mean, I've been working hard. Do you realize how taxing it can be trying to find new ways to blog about the Bush administration's incompetence and mendacity? It gets tiring after a while. A guy needs a break. It's not like Jim Webb is going to propose a bill mandating that wartime bloggers get some rotating downtime.

And then, there's the heat. Tony Snow explained why they are taking off an entire month, "You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August."

Gads, I didn't realize that there's NO AIR CONDITIONING in the Green Zone. That explains a lot--dodging mortar shells and sweating bullets. Thanks for pointing that out, Tony. Too bad the Halliburton no-bid contract didn't call for a few portable chillers. Haste makes waste...

Oh yes, in response to the reminder that it's 130 degrees outside for our troops, Tony rejoined, "And it's 130 degrees for the Iraqi military." (It wasn't reported widely that Tony then broke out into his Pee Wee Herman impression, squeaking to the skeptical reporter, "I know you are, but what am I?")

Now, to those negative types who might dwell on the fact that U.S. troops will be risking their lives while the Iraqi parliament goes on vacation, even though we've been told that the current rationale for our military presence is to create the conditions for Iraqi political progress, Tony is merely asking us not to overlook that some Iraqis are also making sacrifices. Golly gee, thanks, Tony--that proviso should provide abundant consolation to the spouses of those U.S. service men and women killed during the month of August. But hey, maybe members of the Iraqi military will get the idea from their political counterparts that they should avoid the brutal heat, too, and then just not show up for duty (it's not like it hasn't been done before). We can all, then, be even more thankful to the U.S. troops for giving 110% to this war effort. In fact, Tony could spin this hiatus to Bush's advantage: We're making so much progress in this war, we've met a new benchmark: "Secure enough to take an entire month off from hard negotiations." What confidence! What optimism! And then everyone can go shopping in the nearby market that John McCain lauded a while ago as bustling and relatively blast-free.

Now, General Petraeus is scheduled to deliver that pesky Surge Progress Report a mere fortnight after the vacationers return, on September 15. You ask: How can there be much progress on the Iraqi political front by that date when the Iraqi parliament won't even be convening for the entire month of August?

Tony's answer: "You're assuming that nothing is going on." The members of the Iraqi parliament may still be meeting--on the side, Tony explained.

Same here. I'll be thinking during August--a lot--even when it appears to the casual observer that I'm doing absolutely nothing. My mind's working all of the time, even when I'm eating, for instance. Some really good ideas are hatched over dinner. Sometimes lunch, too. I'm sure Tony has had the same experience. I'll be sitting in a nice restaurant, sipping a fine Chardonnay with friends (which is kind of like a "meeting"), and a fabulous idea will just pop into my head.

For starters, I might end up pondering whether George Bush will be taking his usual August "working vacation" during this time of war and bloodshed and sacrifice and terror and heightened summer threat levels. You know, maybe if Condi could arrange a meeting in Dubai with George and the entire Iraqi parliament, over golf, all of this Sunni-Shiite-Kurd squabbling could be hashed out. They could smoke cigars afterwards, slap each other on the back, that sort of thing.

Anyway, all work and no play makes Jawad a dull boy.

Just someone please tell those Iraqi Parliamentarians not to take their August vacations in France. Most of the best baguette and cheese proprietors will be on holiday. I hear that Albania, though, is beautiful and open for business around that time of year.

Snarkiness aside, I've got a hunch that this August vacation thing is not going to go down well with Joe Q. Public. Karl Rove and Tony Snow will need to work double time during the month of August in order to plant daily media distractions from the fact that the Iraqi politicians are on break while American troops are not. Can the Bushies thereafter really snooker us into yet another extension of this deadly farce?