Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 2, 2003
WAR: The Flyboy
Some people (including some very, very pro-war folks) are criticizing the whole fighter-jet entrance last night by the president as overdoing it; Instapundit has a roundup of the criticisms; David Brooks is vicious in response to the critics.
I can see their point, but you have to love the extent to which it seems calculated to (1) drive all the right people nuts (Maureen Dowd should be able to squeeze three months of columns out of last night) and (2) as Howard Fineman put it, quoting Osama, show unsubtle, non-English speaking Arabs, in the most visual sense, who the "strong horse" is.
Glenn Reynolds' dis of the entrance as too Third Worldish overlooks the fact that Third World dictators fire Kalashnikovs. They don't fly jets onto aircraft carriers because Third World dictatorships could never develop the technical expertise and discipline required to run anything as complicated as an aircraft carrier. Plus, a Saddam-type dictator wouldn't trust his own men enough to get in a jet with any old pilots.
Of course, for all that and all the good campaign pictures, I think Bush was mostly just having fun and allowing himself an overdue victory lap. I was immediately reminded of Dave Barry, on Bush's father and his speedboat (from Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys:
You'd see him on the TV news, zooming across the water, the president of the United States, with an expression identical to that of a three-year-old boy pushing a little metal Tonka truck and making a motor sound with his lips, the way little boys instinctively do, like this: BRRRRMMMMM.
Looking at him, you knew for a fact that he was not thinking about the unemployment rate, or the status of his proposed federal budget, or problems in the Middle East. You knew exactly what he was thinking, because it was the same thing that every guy is thinking when he is driving a motorized vehicle very fast. George Bush, the Most Powerful Man in the Most Powerful Nation on Earth, the Leader of the Free World, was thinking: BRRRRMMMMM.