We have met the enemy

Wyatt Mason takes his time getting to the point, but it’s a good one, well made:

“Does it concern you,” the [reporter] asked, stuttering, “that the Beirut airport has been bombed, and do you see a risk of triggering a wider war? And on Iran, they’ve so far refused to respond. Is it now past the deadline, or do they still have more time to respond?”

“I thought,” [George] Bush replied, “you were going to ask about the pig.”

Try to ignore, if you can, the image of the carcass of a pig, Bush poised, knife in hand, ready to carve. Consider instead that when asked on an international stage about real carnage—about spreading violence in the Middle East, about a constellation of worries suggesting a world at the brink of war—the president’s reply did not take the questioner’s inquiry seriously but, rather, sarcastically. His rhetoric sounded less like that of a steward of state—one addressing serious matters with sobriety—than that of a smartass. And this was not Juvenal’s sarcasm, or Twain’s, or even [Stephen] Colbert’s: it was not elegantly tuned to a point nor artfully part of a formal design. It was, instead, almost perfectly inappropriate and, of course, not unindicative of the president’s normal rhetorical mode. For it is not, I think, as is so often said, that the president is as much inarticulate as he is too clearly articulate, in a way: his tone, consistently condescending, betrays his sense of being, like a satirist, above those he calls down to. And that tone—carelessly sarcastic, thoughtlessly ironic, indiscriminately sardonic—that is the very one you now find everywhere. Bush is us; Bush is me: his is the same sarcasm I employ when I tell my father, once again, that of course I didn’t read today’s op-ed.