The Truth, Mainly - 04/11/2005

Kooser a cure for crankiness
by Leon Satterfield

I've been cranky as all get out for the last several weeks. I've heard that if you talk about what's making you cranky you'll feel all better, so here goes.

(1) A commission was charged with investigating just how accurate our professional spies are. On March 31 the commission concluded the spies were "dead wrong" in their judgment that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. You remember Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. They're the reason we invaded Iraq.

The commission concluded that "almost all the prewar judgments" about Iraq's WMDs constituted "a major intelligence failure." And get this: three days later, a Washington Post-ABC poll reported that 56 percent of Americans still believe the myth of Iraq's WMDs.

(2) Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, who apparently hasn't heard about how the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government are separate but equal, charged that judges in the Schiavo case had "thumbed their nose at Congress and the president" and that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

I assume that by "the men responsible" he means Washington, Jefferson, Adams and the rest of that gang of founding fathers.

(3) The current president last month nominated John Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. This is the same John Bolton who in 1994 said "There is no such thing as the United Nations." Later he said that the UN building in New York City "has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

To quote Holden Caulfield, Mr. Bolton seems "about as sensitive as a toilet seat" to the institution in which our president wants him to represent us.

(4) We already know that during the campaign last fall, the Bush folks tried to let only Bush supporters be present at his speeches. Turns out it's still going on. E.J. Dionne wrote about it in the April 1 Washington Post and I'm pretty sure it wasn't an April Fools joke.

Here's what happened: three Coloradans were given tickets—by the folks in the office of Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez—to hear the president's speech in Denver on Social Security. They made the mistake of driving a car with a bumper sticker saying "No More Blood for Oil." A man wearing "a smiley-face tie" apparently saw the bumper sticker, told them at the door that the Secret Service would be coming to see them. They got seated, but before the president began to talk, they were escorted out of the building.

I hope they've been seen again.

(5) And in the April 3 issue of Reason Magazine, Matt Welch tells us there's a second batch of photos taken at Abu Ghraib but they're not going to be made public. They're too awful.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) said his "stomach gave out" after he'd looked at a few of the photos.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told Congress that if the photos are "released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse." He said they show "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman."

If Rummy thinks that, what might the rest of us think?

(6) Here's one last outrage I feel I must report. Last Tuesday's Washington Post began a story with this sentence: "Two Washington authors—a reporter and a poet—were awarded Pulitzer Prizes yesterday."

That lead line made me awfully cranky because it was a blatant attempt to kidnap Ted Kooser and transmogrify him into a "Washington author."

You already know, of course, that Ted Kooser last week won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry with his collection called "Delights and Shadows."

Ted Kooser is not a Washington author. Ted Kooser is a Garland author. That's Garland, Nebraska, less than an hour northwest of Lincoln. And it may be a bit of a stretch to call him a Garland author. He lives on a farm a few miles from town.

It's probably true that Ted has written in Washington—he spends some time there as the nation's current Poet Laureate—but that doesn't make him a Washington author.

He's a Nebraska author and has been ever since he moved here from Iowa some 40 years ago. Don't you forget it.

And, because I like saying it so much I'll say it again: he's the American Poet Laureate and he just won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. And again: Ted Kooser is the American Poet Laureate and he just won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

There. I feel all better now.


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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