Dateline: January 19, 2013 Washington, D.C.
Marching bands and fireworks will resound in the nation's capital tomorrow, but President-elect George Prescott Bush reportedly plans to strike a somber note in his inaugural address. Flanked by his father Jeb and uncle George W., the new commander-in-chief will pound home his recent warnings about terrorism.
Though Bush campaigned on domestic issues such as education, taxes, and energy, his pronouncements since the election have focused on foreign policy. Speaking yesterday before the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Terrorism, Bush charged Afghan president Hamid Karzai with harboring Osama bin Laden, heretofore presumed dead. Bush also included Pakistan and Iraq in a "threesome of iniquity" with Afghanistan, accusing Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf and the Iraqi National Congress of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. "Only evil can explain how these tyrants came to power," he added.
At thirty-six years of age, Bush will be the youngest president in American history, and some have questioned his preparedness for the job. Top Republicans, however, hasten to note that "G.P." has family wisdom to draw on, as well as the expertise of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who can be thawed from cryogenic retirement in emergencies. William Bennett, author of Why We're Still Fighting and The Book of Platitudes, frequently invokes Theodore Roosevelt comparisons. "T.R. was only 40 when he crushed Spanish terrorism on San Juan Hill," Bennett told delegates at last summer's Republican convention.
Few foreign governments have sent representatives to the inauguration. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend the ceremonies and meet with Bush later in the week. Netanyahu, whom the president-elect has called "a steadfast enemy of terror," hopes to rally U.S. support for beleaguered Israeli settlers in Cairo, Amman, Damascus, and Beirut. Also attending will be North Korean President Kim Jong Il, recipient of a special invitation from First Sister Noelle Bush. According to Ms. Bush, the drug czar-designate, "President Kim has demonstrated how effective policing can create a drug-free environment for our children." Kim will also receive the Ronald Reagan Peace through Strength Medal from Congress for "his commitment to nuclear deterrence."
Though controversy still surrounds last November's election, Bush insists that the time for partisanship is over. "My father's electoral reforms in Florida clearly worked. I mean, Arthur Andersen counted the ballots, so get over it already," he told Larry King. "When [Chief Justice] John Ashcroft swears me in, I'm the president. Period."
According to constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, statements like this are "ominous at best." Although civil libertarians and progressives object to the president-elect's style and some of his proposals, Bush defenders are quick to use the word "alarmist." David Horowitz, chief editor for Frontpagemag.com, recently dismissed "Chicken Little radicals" in a New York Post editorial.
"Liberals never cease whining about bloated military budgets. Well, Bush wants to streamline the Defense Department. By subcontracting it out to a private company, Halliburton, he will save the taxpayers millions," wrote Horowitz. "He also plans to appoint our first openly gay Surgeon General, Andrew Sullivan. What else do these pinkos want?"
Nonetheless, many Americans remain wary. While Wall Street continues its ten-week plunge, perhaps the best measure of the public mood is the explosion of bumper stickers reading, "Canada or bust!"
December 18, 2002