August 21, 2002

Nationally Lampooned Vacation

August—a truly special month of the year! Two weeks of inescapable humidity and stale laziness followed by two weeks of classes to sweat off what’s left of your brain. But hey, it’s great to be back once again, milling about our hallowed grounds.

Yes, friends, we as students represent the future of society. At least that’s what my high school commencement speaker said, like, years ago. Apparently, we represent the present too, because our leaders have skipped town.

Quick question: how are UL Lafayette and Washington D.C. different? Answer: one of us got only 18 days of vacation this month! Yes, George W. Bush has taken his Official Month Off, joining Dick Cheney, all of Congress and a lot of other people with Important Titles. Although no one will admit it, Dan Rather is actually interim president. Well, he would have been, except that Bush’s pilgrimage to Crawford, Texas, is a “working vacation.”

They say he will occasionally check in and read briefings, pose for photo-ops and go around soaking up money for the Republicans. It’s much like his regular routine, except in Texas instead of Washington.

The vacation allows Bush to kick back for the camera and be like one of the folks. And what could be better for public morale than the sight of the United States coming together with Russia over barbecued pork chops? (Israel must love that.) Well, how about competence?

Is there any other job in existence in which we pick people based on how much we’d like to party with them? Imagine that as the criterion for the hiring of a nuclear physicist:

Watson: “Bore here seems like a prime candidate. Received doctorate at MIT, interned at Lockheed Martin and already has patented a thermal failsafe device that promises to revolutionize the safety of a nuclear device without compromising its efficacy.”

Crick: “Nah, he’s too much of a nuclear wonk to work for us! Bet he’s boring at the water cooler. Don’t want that. Anyone else up for the job?”

Watson: “Well, Homer was head of the Inter-Fraternity Council at some college down in Texas and has a bachelor’s degree in general studies. His father was involved in the bombing of Nagasaki so he probably knows a thing or two about atomic physics and I’m sure he has some great war stories to pass on. Best of all, he pronounces ‘nuclear’ as ‘nucular’!”

Crick: “Cool! Homer’s hired!”

But I digress.

I guess I should be outraged about the president’s month-long vacation. But then I realize that this month-long sabbatical probably is the highlight of the Bush II presidency so far. If the president’s hiatus means we don’t have to deal with him talking the market down in front of the “Corporate Responsibility” social-studies-fair-type backdrops that are increasingly rendering satire dead, then I’m all for it!

There’s certainly no need to justify the mass vacation to Wall Street. A typical business section from this period in history says it all: “Disappointing…Dow Jones takes hit…turnaround dimmed…triple-digit loss…confidence further eroded…doubts…markets down…down…down…down…” If this sounds like the Tecmo Bowl game from hell. You’re not far off. The difference is that, in Tecmo Bowl, if you play well, you might actually win.

As for taking a break from the terrorists, we know now that preventive action was a possibility last August. Now, though, the best preventative action lies simply in taking a break from baiting Saddam and the rest of the world into part two of the big revenge scheme.

Kicking back is a privilege everyone should enjoy. In an age in which the working people of America are increasingly worried about security on both economic and terrorist fronts, however, image should take a backseat to action.

But in this case, maybe inaction is the best action these politicians can take. Enjoy the ranch, George!

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