The Truth, Mainly - 05/27/2002

Criminal cuteness grounds for impeachment?
by Leon Satterfield

It pains me greatly to have to say this, but a columnist has to do what a columnist has to do.

What I have to do, gentle reader, is tell you that President Bush needs to be impeached.

But what, a few of you may be saying, has the President done to warrant impeachment? What high crimes and misdemeanors is he guilty of?

As traumatic as it is to have to do it, I'll tell you.

It has nothing to do with his conduct of the war on terrorism. It has nothing to do with his favorite food being peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. And it doesn't even have anything to do with his tax cuts for the rich, or the funny way he walks.

It has to do with those dorky nicknames he keeps giving people.

Not all of them, of course. Many of them we can tolerate.

When he calls Frank Bruni of the NY Times "Pancho," we might roll our eyes a little. When he calls CNN's Candy Crowley "Dulce," we might wince a little. And when he calls former Enron honcho Kenneth Lay "Kenny Boy," our collective gorge might gurgle a little.

But those aren't the nicknames we've got to impeach the President for.

We've got to impeach him because, according to Time magazine, President Bush calls Russian President Vladimir Putin….

I can't bring myself to say it. Or even to write it.

Give me a minute here.

OK. When Duty whispers low "Thou must," the Columnist replies "I shall." Here's what George W. Bush calls Vladimir Putin:


I'm not making it up. President Bush calls President Putin "Pootie-Poot."

Yes, he does. It's right there in the May 27 issue of Time—in the story called "Our New Best Friend?" by James Carney. Mr. Carney held off as long as he could, but on page 45 at the very end of the very last sentence of the story, he finally tells us.

President Bush calls President Putin "Pootie-Poot."

Our President is, I'm sorry to have to tell you, criminally cute.

Cute is fine for toddlers who have chubby little chins we're supposed to chuck them under while we say "Hey, there. Hey."

Cute is acceptable for earnest little pre-schoolers—like my granddaughter, who in the midst of a prolonged attack of diarrhea, wailed to her mother, "I wanna have happy poops again."

Cute is even permissible at its outer limits for not-quite-nubile seventh-grade cheerleaders practicing to be sexy.

But there is no place for cute in a president. It may be only a misdemeanor for presidents of small countries like Luxembourg, but cute is high-crime criminal conduct for presidents of super powers.

It's also hard on weak stomachs.

Back in the 1920's, Dorothy Parker wrote a book review column called "The Constant Reader" for New Yorker magazine. In a review of a children's book she found especially cloying in its cuteness, she ended with this description of her own reaction: "Tonstant Weader fwowed up."

When President Bush calls President Putin "Pootie-Poot," he runs a serious risk of making his fellow Americans fwow up.

And potentially even more distressing is how President Putin might react to being called "Pootie-Poot." What if, instead of throwing President Bush into a gulag, he plays along with him?

"Bushie-Bush!" he might say, giving our President the secret Yale fraternity handshake just as the KGB had trained him to do. "Boola boola!"

"You good ol Doo-Doo Head!" Bushie-Bush might reply, embracing the leader of what was once the Evil Empire.

Then each one might put his left hand in his right armpit and flap his right arm like a chicken wing to make flatulence noises at his old pal. Just a little friendly competition.

And where might it go from there? Remember, they both have ICBMs they could use to play boyish pranks on each other.

We've got to nip this in the bud.

So, even though it's somehow all Bill Clinton's fault, we must impeach President Bush.

What's that you say? That we'd never get an indictment from House Republicans because Republicans can't stand the idea of impeachment?

You're right. So always the realist, I'm willing to compromise.

Let's just ground the President, send him to his room, take away his telephone privileges, and tell him no more nicknames for heads of state.

It's our last best hope. Both for the country and for Georgie-Porgie.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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