Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cowboy Diplomacy

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now.
And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.
-Kris Kristofferson
W. Regrets Almost Nothing
Published: June 15, 2008

George Bush went to France and Maureen Dowd got to tag along. I hope it goes better for her than their trip to Saudi Arabia did. Today’s column has a Paris dateline so she must be there. W is making a greatest hits tour of Europe, but it’s not exactly selling out to packed houses.
A Bush organizer asked people sitting in the back of the hall to move to the front, so the empty seats would not be visible on TV.
President Bush gave the keynote speech of his European farewell tour extolling the virtues of liberty.

Paris responded with a yawn. (Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to say.)
The Dowdversion on the song made famous by Janis Joplin also recalls its cowboy poet author, Kris Kristofferson. And speaking of cowboys, for this piece Maureen breaks out all sorts of cowboy metaphors.
He reiterated a rhetorical sop to those who yearn for a scintilla of remorse, telling The Times of London that his gunslinging talk made him seem like a “guy really anxious for war,” and that phrases like “dead or alive” and “bring them on” “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace.”

In Old Europe, they’ve moved on, assuming that the American president has done all the damage that he can do. The blazing hostility toward W. has faded to indifference and a sort of fatigued perplexity about how les imbeciles de regime cowboy got into office, and how America could have put the world through all this craziness.
We are going to ignore the Movies With Maureen® potential of “blazing hostility” and go on to the faux French which loosely translates as “idiot cowboy administration.” Maureen dips into her nun-taught French one more time to use a phrase which means “No regrets.
On the illicit rush to war, W. ne regrette rien.

Alluding to the Edith Piaf classic "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" is triply ironic because the song has its roots in French Foreign Legion lore as France tried vainly to hang onto its empire. From Wikipedia:
Piaf dedicated her recording of the song to the French Foreign Legion. At the time of the recording, France was engaged in a military conflict, the Algerian War (1956–1962), and the 1er R E P (Premier Regiment Etranger de Parachutistes, First Regiment Foreign Paratroopers) — who had backed a temporary putsch by the French military against the civilian leadership of Algeria—adopted the song when their resistance was broken in April 1961.
Dowd claims that Dubya is trying to play on France’s sympathies as one failed imperial power to another:
He enthused that “German asparagus are fabulous,” and wryly told a Paris audience that “my hair is a lot grayer,” assuming that the French, with their history of foiled colonialism, would know why. He seemed, all these years later, intent on spiritual absolution.
The parallels between France and the US in Algeria, Vietnam, and elsewhere would seem to be a cautionary tale that Dubya is deaf to, but Maureen sees a deeper drama happening.
In this case, the words, while dime-store Western, were not the problem. The actions were the problem. W. was really anxious for war. He felt that if he could change Middle East history, he could jump out of his father’s shadow forever.
Because his dad failed to march to Baghdad, Bush the Younger is determined to stick by his own course of action.
A Democratic lawmaker who saw the president in the Oval Office recently and urged him to bring the troops home from Iraq quickly recounted that W. got a stony look and replied that 41 had abandoned the Iraqis and thousands got slaughtered. “I will never do that to them,” 43 said.

Sounds like Oedipal déjà vu all over again.
And Greek tragedies, even when translated into French and set in the Old West, never end well.

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