The Perfumed Prince and Other Political Tales
by John Chuckman
September 6, 2003
The Perfumed Prince declared himself a Democrat. Many Americans may not recognize the nickname bestowed upon Wesley Clarke by British colleagues as he strutted around Serbia with his set of platinum-plated general's stars carefully repositioned each day to a freshly-starched and ironed camouflage cap, wafting a thick vapor trail of cologne. His lack of judgment demonstrated in Serbia - including an order to clear out Russian forces that British general, Sir Michael Jackson, had to ignore for fear of starting World War III - should be enough to utterly disqualify him as a candidate for President. But this is America, land of opportunity.
The former general scents, through the mists of his musky cologne, an opportunity for service. Hell, we're at war, and any real general is better than a former male cheerleader from Andover who cross-dresses as a combat pilot. Dreams of being the hero on a white horse beckon. A fatal attraction in the American people to used-up generals is how the country managed to elect some of its worst presidents - Grant, Jackson, and Garfield, for example.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts announced that he wants the Democratic presidential nomination. He chose to ask for it from the deck of an aircraft carrier. I have no idea why he would repeat any part of Bush's pathetic stunt, but to my mind it is an immediate strike against his competence. Perhaps he hoped for a promotional deal on a doll in combat gear to memorialize the occasion? That is, after all, a good deal of the country's idea of war, limited-edition collector dolls with lots of cute little zippers, flaps, and pockets (all handsomely made in China or Indonesia). Never mind real war where pilots drop cluster bombs and napalm on tiny desperate figures far below, and the occupying troops slosh through the resulting human gore, a good deal of it belonging to children in Iraq.
Well, Kerry was awarded some medals during Vietnam, so that does set him apart from Bush. Kerry's doll could feature cute little medals to set it apart, but then he threw the originals into a trash bin at a veterans' demonstration in front of the Capitol in 1971. That's not the kind of association that excites collectors of expensive kitsch in America's better class of trailer parks.
By the way, does anyone know whether the Bush Elite Aviator doll wets? Perhaps you can change its undies as girls did with Betsy Wetsy decades ago? This would offer opportunities for different editions. Bush Original could chug little water-filled six-packs while Bush Holier-Than-Thou used a miniature pitcher of iced tea.
Senator Kerry's involvement with Vietnam certainly reflected the war's extremes. He earned his medals in questionable actions including the shooting of a man who was running away and the killing of a child by a member of his crew. Remember another Kerry, a former Senator, the boyish one from Nebraska who spells his name "Kerrey," a Medal of Honor winner in Vietnam, much admired until it was learned that his grisly work there had been as a member of one of the night-crawling murder squads? If only Americans could once see what utterly filthy stuff war really is, the world might be spared a lot of needless horrors.
John Kerry, having become an opponent of the war in which he served, made a speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, describing some of what he had witnessed in Vietnam. Americans had "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephone to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country." I can only admire such truthfulness, but Kerry's first instinct, years before, had been to contribute to the mayhem. Only when it was politically opportune did he oppose it. I get the same morally confused signals today with a speech delivered from an aircraft carrier while Iraqis suffer miserably from what such killing machines already have inflicted.
The Democrats held their first debate, hoping desperately to find an attractive candidate. Senator Joe Lieberman was there, but you have to wonder why anyone would vote to replace Bush with Lieberman? The pair remind me of one of those 1950's cheap horror films about a monster with two heads lurching over the countryside.
Lieberman's many pious-fraud battles over personal expression suggest that the Two Heads may actually have shared a single brain at birth. Just like his Twin Head, Lieberman avoided military service out of personal interests without hint of conscience or principle, and, just like his Twin Head, Lieberman always stands ready to see people blown up in foreign lands, just so it's "our boyz" doing the blowing up. Capital punishment warms his heart, too, and he has organizational connections with Dick Cheney's wife, America's intellectual gorgon.
Even the Rev Al Sharpton, also a candidate, doesn't bring quite the same rank smell to the nostrils.
Former general Powell, who once could have been President and have had his own fancy soldier doll, instead ends his career as a tiresome door-to-door salesman in shiny-bottomed pin-striped pants, pitching plans nobody wants to the United Nations. That "irrelevant" institution, as it was hotly described by Powell's sales manager only a short while ago, now is being offered something called "a role" in Iraq. A role, in the weird idiom of Bush's Washington, consists of sending vast quantities of money and troops to a reeling, miserable country Americans are already sick of hearing about without having anything to say about their use or the country's fate. Say-so would stay in the Oval Office, the source of the vicious tantrums that created all the destruction. As of this writing, stubborn blockheads in Germany and France had rejected the attractive limited-time offer.
John Chuckman lives in Canada and is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He writes frequently for Yellow Times.org and other publications.