Friday, July 09, 2004


So the Texas Air National Guard microfilm of President Bush’s records has accidentally been destroyed, and on the same day Homeland Security feels the need to warn us -- without raising the official threat level -- of a “catastrophic” terrorist attack that will take place somewhere, sometime within the next four months. Maybe.

The destruction of the microfilm alone is a huge coincidence, as it would have proved whether Bush legitimately served out his time in the Guard and if not, why not. Certainly the timing of the typically vague terrorist alert, which distracts from the other news, boosts the quality of coincidence into the stratospheric.

But, hey. It could be.

Please remember Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia.” a similar situation in which complex, interweaving plots, all featuring brooding, damaged people, were interrupted by an unlikely rain of frogs. Moviegoers were outraged. They saw it as a lame, forced application of contemptible magic realism by a guy who, three hours into a movie, couldn’t figure out an ending.

But, as the kid in the movie says, “This happens. This is something that happens.”

Our current situation isn’t a movie, of course. It’s not “Magnolia.” This is real life. It’s “Pennsylvania,” since that’s the avenue on which the White House sits. But anyone outraged by this literally incredible turn of events would do well to calm themselves by replacing that other outrageous moment in the movie, when all the characters start singing Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up” and the movie turns briefly into a wistful musical, with characters from the White House singing the same, moving song. Here’s President Bush in an Oval Office mired in gloom, then Vice President Cheney in a dank bunker, Donald Rumsfeld in a helicopter pelted by rain, Colin Powell in a cluttered, claustrophobic office, all singing to you:

Now you can hardly stand it though,
By now you know
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
‘Til you wise up.

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