by Walter Brasch
It 's almost Halloween, and some of our nation 's leaders have yet to find appropriate costumes.
Of course, I have some suggestions.
It 's hard to find President George W. Bush a costume, since he 's tried on so many. He puts on boots, jeans, a large buckle belt, and worker shirt, and pretends to be a cowboy. He put on a flight suit and had a Navy pilot ferry him to the U.S.S. Lincoln, where he puffed himself up and told the world "Mission Accomplished. " Unfortunately, none of the insurgents were listening. His public speeches often show him in the roles of Goofy or the Straw man trying to find a brain. Immediately after 9/11 and again the first days after Katrina, he did a great imitation of "Where 's Waldo? " On his eighth trip to the Gulf Coast after Katrina --after almost four days when he paid as much attention to the plight of the hurricane victims as he does the environment --he put on a hard hat and wrap-around tool belt and pretended to be a construction worker. But, for this Halloween, maybe we can give him a costume he has said many times he has worn constantly, but apparently has never felt --that of a compassionate conservative.
Equally compassionate is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who says she thinks she 's both a woman and Black. But, her decision to remain on vacation in New York City and buy expensive designer shoes while several hundred thousand impoverished Americans suffered during the first week of Katrina shows no empathy for men or women, Black or White. She doesn 't seem to understand anything below the level of presidential politics.
Hillary Clinton, moving to the center in what may be a bid to be a Presidential candidate in 2008, could dress either as a yellow line down the center of an asphalt highway or as the Great Walenda, a tightrope walker who couldn 't move left or right without falling.
Also looking at a presidential campaign is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Once one of the nation 's most powerful politicians before falling into disrepute among the Republicans, Gingrich is now grateful he isn 't tied to this Republican administration. But, with massive problems in the Republican party, and with President Bush 's popularity now lower than a pair of deuces in a game of Texas Hold 'em, Gingrich is thinking of a comeback. He could dress as a phoenix arising from its own ashes --or as Punxsutawney Phil who comes out of his hole once a year.
Deep in a hole is Tom Delay (R-Texas), the former House Majority Leader, who was known as the "hammer, " a ruthless political force. He could dress as a shark, possibly a hammerhead shark. Before his election to Congress, DeLay was a bug exterminator. But now a Texas DA, with a strong conviction record against criminals, both Republican and Democrat, has been trying to exterminate DeLay 's political future. Perhaps DeLay might rummage through his old clothes and walk through his neighborhood on Halloween as a noxious spray.
Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, still practices medicine on occasion. Perhaps he might put on a set of freshly-washed scrubs, go to his office, re-read the Hippocratic Oath, and start working on a stronger Medicare plan.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld could dress as the Jaberwocky, since neither of them seems to make much sense.
Treasury Secretary John Snow could dress as Wimpy, the comic book character in "Popeye, " who is willing to pay tomorrow if he could just get a hamburger today.
Of course, Dick Cheney doesn 't need a costume. He 's already scary enough.
And, finally, a salute to the Coast Guard, whose slogan has been "the military service that saves lives, " and whose unofficial motto is, "Act Now. Get Approval later. " Undermanned and underfunded, the Coast Guard proved to the nation what determined professionalism meant during the Katrina catastrophe. For Halloween, they could all shed their Work Blues and dress as Prince Charmings on white steeds or as the Little Engine That Could.