'Meet me in the clubhouse' 

A special message from George W. Bush

This week, I am pleased to turn this space over to George W. Bush, outgoing president of the United States.

Hey, y'all. I know many of you are feeling discouraged these days, what with the invasion of Iraq reaching its fifth anniversary and the economy tanking (it's not really a recession, I promise). Everywhere you look, you see signs of suffering, whether it's somewhat high gas prices or the international food shortage, which, as I recently explained, wouldn't be happening if the middle class in India weren't devouring so much nutritious rice. Just sayin'.

We've done a good job keeping the 4,000 deaths of American soldiers in Iraq out of view by refusing to let the media photograph coffins. And the media have been very helpful, too, in reporting very little about the thousands and thousands of soldiers who have been maimed in Iraq. Likewise, we've tried to put on a happy face about the millions of Iraqis who have fled the country. Hey, they are better off than the hundreds of thousands of their countrymen who have been killed.

Historically, Americans have been willing to sacrifice something during wartime. It's a way of telling the troops we are here for them. We share their devotion to this war and revere the sacrifice they make to create an Iraq democracy that will further enrich Dick Cheney and prove to the world that Americans are capable of killing, maiming and displacing more people than Saddam Hussein did.

Me? I've made my own personal sacrifice since 2003. I'm talking about golf. As I told Yahoo News and the Politico last week: "I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf ... I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

I made the decision after learning that the U.N.'s Sergio de Hoo-Ha-Mello-Whatever had been killed in Baghdad. As I said in my interview with Yahoo: "I remember when de Mello ... got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. I was playing golf – I think I was in central Texas – and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, 'It's just not worth it anymore to do.'"

It's true. I just can't go on playing golf. Yes, it's torture! The pain of not playing is unbearable at times, but it reminds me of what it's like to have your limbs blown off. I mean our brave amputees will never play golf again. I'm sure many a dead soldier has been buried with the epitaph, "He gave up golf to protect our freedoms."

It's true that I never made mention of this before and never mind that I strummed a guitar while New Orleans was destroyed. Oh, and never mind that I did play a round of golf in October, two months after I made the decision to sacrifice my game. (I did consider wearing a flight suit and codpiece on the course.)

And never mind, too, that it just so happens that I was having knee problems and had torn a muscle in my right calf at the same time I sacrificed my golf game. In fact, I gave up running, too, but that had nothing to do with dead servicemen. Running's not that much fun. But, OK, sure, I gave up running to express my solidarity with the soldiers, too.

Of course, I don't ask every American to join me in sacrificing something as important as golf. But I think all of us can find something we have to give up for one reason or another. We might as well say that we're giving it up for the troops.

Laura has given up wearing pink pants suits, for example. Why? For the troops. My daughter Jenna gave up her virginity last week. Why? For the troops. Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Alberto Gonzales all gave up respect for the law and ethics – to support the troops, of course. The middle class has given up economic stability. Why? For the boys and girls in uniform, of course!

These are perilous times and we must not misunderestimate the importance of our brave troops' morale. Let the liberals like Obama and Tiger Woods continue playing golf – or windsurf in tights, like flip-floppin' John Kerry – but the 27 percent who approve of my performance can meet me in the clubhouse at the bar to toast our fighting boys.

God bless America.

Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology. For information on his private practice, go to www.cliffbostock.com.

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