Friday, November 25, 2005

No Fake Turkey...

... this year, Bush. You got some shit for that in the media at this time last year, right? Serving up a plastic bird to the troops for the photo op, with a big grin on your face. You have to admit, it was just a little on the tacky side. Just goes to show, you shouldn't always listen to your PR people. Sometimes they get things wrong, and you end up with egg on your face. In this case, presumably, plastic turkey egg. This year, I hear, the Thanksgiving gesture was ten personal calls to your soliders in different parts of the world, to thank them for their service to the country. From the comfort of the Crawford ranch. Do these media people really think that calls like this are going to transform your somewhat remote and uncaring image into warm, presidential sympathy? Just speaking for myself, Bush, I have to say that this, too, flopped as a PR gesture. Too cavalier. Not enough personal sacrifice. But then, some folks are never satisfied. In your case, I guess I'm one of them.

But that's not the big news for the day, of course. The big news, which has every network and every TV station in a tizzy, is the annual post-Thsnkgiving shopping frenzy. What joy and rapture everywhere. Santa Claus (who used to be St. Nicholas, remember?) shows his ruddy face and his white beard again, a good month before he's due, to play his traditional role in the wild commercial ride toward Christmas. Ho, Ho, Ho, Bush. What a jolly fellow, stimulating sales. For God's sake, what are we teaching our children about peace and goodwill? Much more, alas, about gimme, gimme, gimme...

Anyway, listen, Bush, another thing: I'm distressed about the way in which technology has intruded on the gift market. It seems like everything these days is high-tech--from good old parlor games to dolls and truccks. For kids, so little room for the imagination any more: the lead soldiers (heaven forbid!), even the tin ones of yesteryear look hopelessly quaint beside the hyper-realist video games that encourage the bloody slaughter of enemies on the battlefield--or in the streets. Dolls speak, respond to questions with preprogrammed messages, walk, weep, and pee in their pants. No make-believe there. Are we leeching the imaginative faculty from the minds of kids? Are we training them to be as literal-minded as our sad-sack adult selves?

As for the older kids, the teens, there are the I-Pods, the Blackberries, the digital cameras, the cell phones that now, I understand, not only take snapshots, but also receive your favorite television program at the touch of your keypad. It's all such alienating stuff. The lesson: be anywhere but where you are. Forget the immediacy of the present moment, forget the reality of lived experience, move on into the ethernet and tune in to experience at one remove from life, as mediated by electronic technology.

I don't know. Am I sounding like a Victorian Scrooge, Bush? Or the Grinch? Maybe so. But while I'm at it, on another front, I'd also be interested in hearing what proportion of the items purchased today are manufactured anywhere outside the U.S.--China? Korea?--and to what extent these purchases contribute to the country's trade imbalance. I don't suppose I'm likely to hear that statistic on the evening news, Bush. But wouldn't it be interesting? Really? Wouldn't it give us all pause, if this information were to be included with the noisy boosterism that passes for the news of the day? Wouldn't we have to stop and rethink our priorities, if only just a little bit?

Now that, Bush, that would make me happy!

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