I come to praise the president, not to criticize him.
That's because he reminds me of me.
Both of us have been self-sacrificial in doing our filial duties
to our fathers. Take me, for instance.
My father was a very fast runner. He ran the quarter-mile in
college back in the 1920s. For several decades he held the school record
for that distance, having once run it in a little less than 50 seconds.
In his twenties and early thirties, he would often run footraces with
younger men down the main street of our town.
And no matter who he ran against, my father would always win.
Then in his late thirties, he got fat and his running days were
over. Newcomers to our town could not believe that my pot-bellied father
had ever been able to run fast. When he told them he had once run the
quarter-mile in a little less than 50 seconds, they rolled their eyes and
my father grew despondent.
And that's when, like the current president, I decided I had some
self-sacrificial duties to attend to.
I was in high school, and our track coach, who had heard rumors of
my father's speed, decided it might be hereditary. He told me I should
run the quarter-mile too, so I did.
But I never ran it in a little less than 50 seconds. I never ran
it in a little less than 60 seconds.
I could have, of course, but I chose not to out of filial duty. I
knew that if I ran slow, the old-timers would come around to console my
father. "Too bad about that boy of yours," they'd say. "Tell us again
how fast you ran the quarter-mile."
So my father, torn between pride in his performance and shame in
mine, would have to say "I ran it in a little less than 50 seconds." And
the old-timers would whistle and say nobody in town, maybe nobody in the
county, would ever ran the quarter-mile that fast again.
And every time I'd run slow, they'd talk about how fast my father
He would be gratified, and I would be pleased by my
Which brings me back to our president and why I come to praise
Like me, he has selflessly thrown his own reputation to the wind
in order to remind us of his father's past glory.
For example, George II sat out the Vietnam War in the "Champagne Unit"
of the Texas Air National Guardeven though he knew he thereby was
blowing a chance to fight in Vietnam. He did it to remind us that his father
was a genuine WW2 hero, shot down in the Pacific and awarded the Distinguished
George II got elected president even though he got half a million
fewer votes than Gore. He arranged it that way so we would all remember
that when his father was elected president, he got more, not fewer, votes
than the other guy.
The Truth, Mainly
George II pretended to buyhook, line, and sinkerhis staff's
argument for pre-emptive military strikes against whoever gets in our way.
And that, of course, was to remind us that his father had the good sense
to reject that very policy when it was first proposed in 1992.
George II used the pre-emption policy to go to war in Iraq twelve
days agowithout UN approval or NATO support. There will be lots of
urban fighting, and as the president said last week, "this war is far from
His point, see, was to make us recall that his father's ground war
against Iraq in 1991 was supported by both the UN and NATO, was confined
to desert fighting, and lasted less than a week. Our bill was only $7
billion because George I got our allies to pay the other $54 billion the
George II last week asked Congress for $74.7 billion to pay for
the first month of the current war. That request came shortly after the
president had asked Congress for a $726 billion tax cut. He did that so
we'd recall his father's superior understanding of arithmetic.
You know, of course, why the president walks funny. To remind us
that his father didn't walk funny.
And so forth. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Our
president goes to heroic lengths to look bad so that his father, by
contrast, will look good.
Greater love hath no son than this, that he lay down his
reputation for the glory of his father.
Say, did I ever tell you about how I ran slowon purposeso that
people would talk about how fast my father had run?
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail