was i supposed to faart?

  1. 1,799 Posts.

    Battle of the bulge ...... Phillip Adams

    December 04, 2004

    ONE of Lyndon Johnson’s greatest one-liners targeted the hapless Gerald Ford: "He’s so dumb he can’t walk and fart at the same time." The insult was instantly bowdlerised, Ford’s fart evaporating in favour of chewing gum. Now we’re more candid about flatulence – as can be seen in an insulting fart joke currently wafting through the Internet’s ether.

    Bush and Rumsfeld are in an elevator. Donald goes "sniff, sniff" and says, "Did you fart?" Dubya looks startled and says, "No. Was I supposed to?"

    Another current joke has the US TV networks reporting the sad news that "a tragic fire has destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. Both his books have been lost. A presidential spokesman said that the President was devastated as he had not finished colouring in the second one."

    Let’s put both jokes together and let them introduce a column on the President’s intellectual capacities and associated conspiracy theories. It’s known that everyone from Karl Rove to Dick Cheney to Condoleezza Rice carefully rehearses Dubya’s public utterances, reducing complex issues to catchphrases that he can repeat ad nauseam. But would that protect him from himself during the presidential debates? How do you cope with having a ventriloquial doll in the Oval Office? By having him wear a "wire".

    The first conspiracy theory – widely believed by the White House press corps and amusingly depicted in recent Doonesbury strips – has the President being fed lines, one sentence at a time, presumably by Rove. The evidence for this? Firstly, the famous bulge on Bush’s back. No point denying its existence – there are too many photographs for that. So the White House tailor had to be blamed for incompetent styling.

    As well, conspiracy theorists see behavioural evidence of presidential cheating – in the odd way Dubya would seem to be arguing with his prompter, repeatedly saying, "Let me finish!" in the middle of a sentence that neither Kerry nor the debate’s Chair was attempting to interrupt. If the President was fed his lines, sentence by sentence, the tactic was less than successful. It didn’t prevent Bush getting trounced in both debates – debates that the White House had done everything to avoid and, failing that, to downplay and control. Perhaps when brother Jeb is running in 2008 they’ll have their electronic prompting down pat.

    Apart from the woeful outcome, I’ve got a couple of problems with this conspiracy. Unless Dubya was using some super-duper wavelengths provided by an inner cabal in the CIA – and these days we’re told that the CIA was backing Kerry – it’s hard to imagine any mode of transmission that wouldn’t have been picked up by an unintended recipient. At any given moment there must be millions of electronic eavesdroppers drifting from band to band, not just in the US but everywhere. Ask Charles and Camilla.

    I prefer the bigger conspiracy – the argument that Bush stole the election, for the second time, by vote-rigging. This time it wasn’t a case of hanging chads or energetic attempts to dissuade African-Americans from exercising their democratic rights. This time there’s a belief that wholesale "hacking" took place with the new-fangled voting system.

    Quite a few Democratic candidates for the Reps believe that they were dudded when traditional Democratic districts voted for Bush in highly improbable numbers. Whereas the heavily scrutinised touch-screen voting machines gave results that made sense, in Florida’s counties, using results from optically scanned ballot papers, the results seemed to go haywire.

    According to the conspiracy, only hacking of the system can explain the anomalies – not only with expected voting patterns but with the exit polls that pointed to a Kerry landslide. The notorious Dick Morris, Clinton’s version of Karl Rove, makes the point that exit polls are "always correct".

    There are escalating demands for FBI inquiries but, thus far, Kerry hasn’t complained. But then neither did Dick Nixon when he was defeated by JFK in an election that, to this day, many a respected observer believes was decidedly shonky. That presidential race was a photo finish – and the voting in Mayor Daley’s Chicago was crucial to the outcome. Daley, a classic Tammany Hall operator, stood accused of fiddling with the voting machines, in much the same way as Las Vegas fiddles with the pokies. Serious historians insist that while Nixon knew he’d been dudded, he decided against speaking out.

    ’Tis said he didn’t want to create a constitutional crisis. But perhaps he was more concerned with the possibility of a political backlash. Bad enough to be deemed a born loser, even worse to be a bad one.

    Stop press! I’ve suddenly thought of another explanation for Bush’s back bulge. It’s a black box like those retrieved from doomed aircraft which could be pulled out after Dubya crashed and burned in the first debate to see where he went wrong. Which was, of course, everywhere.

    Not that it mattered. Bush rose like a phoenix from the debacle and won anyway. Although we still await Mike Moore’s concession speech.
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