Thursday, April 01, 2004


The atrocities in Iraq yesterday have contributed to a remarkable accomplishment by President Bush: They made his jokes about the war in Iraq, which were not funny at all, somehow even less funny.

The jokes came at the March 24 annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association, at which guest President Bush made a speech typical for the event: filled with what was supposed to be self-deprecating humor. David Corn, of the Nation, described the worst part of Bush’s speech:

Bush showed a photo of himself looking for something out a window in the Oval Office, and he said, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.”

The audience laughed. I grimaced. But that wasn’t the end of it. After a few more slides, there was a shot of Bush looking under furniture in the Oval Office. “Nope,” he said. “No weapons over there.” More laughter. Then another picture of Bush searching in his office: “Maybe under here.” Laughter again.

Many defended this as being exactly what the speech called for, self-deprecating humor, but the humor is lost on those who disagree that this war of choice was worth the thousands of deaths in Iraq, included those of more than 500 U.S. soldiers. With the latest batch of brutality, surely it’s time to reassess the wit.

So here’s some text from Jeffrey Gettleman in today’s New York Times. Give it a read, then imagine Bush’s presentation again.

After [the men] were shot, the scene turned grisly. A crowd of more than 300 people flooded into the streets. Men swarmed around the vehicles. Some witnesses said the Americans were still alive when one boy came running up with a jug of gasoline. Soon, both vehicles were fireballs.

“Everybody here is happy with this,”
[an Iraqi] said. “There is no question.”

After the fires cooled, a group of boys tore the corpses out of the vehicles. The crowd cheered them on. The boys dragged the blackened bodies to the iron bridge over the Euphrates River, about a mile away. Some people said they saw four bodies hanging over the water, some said only two. At sunset, nurses from a nearby hospital tried to take the bodies away.

Men with guns threatened to kill the nurses. The nurses left. The bodies remained.

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