Thursday, May 04, 2006

We talked about the human condition

One of my favorite moments in the early Bush presidency was his visit to Spain, where he listened to the prime minister (or king?) for about 30 seconds without translation, because Bush actually thinks he knows Spanish, before hastily putting on his headphones. Scotty McClellan (you’ll miss him when he’s gone) insisted today that Bush couldn’t have sung the National Anthem in Spanish (by the way, I found the NatAnth in Latin, but not in Klingon; I trust someone is correcting this oversight) because “He’s not that good with his Spanish.”

The Oklahoma Legislature legalizes tattoos, as long as they’re of scenes from “Oklahoma.”

China and the Pope are getting into a pissing match. That sort of thing is always fun for the rest of us to watch. Though there was supposed to be a truce by which the Chinese government would only appoint bishops to the “official” Chinese church who’d already been named by the Vatican, the Chinese have gone ahead with their own bishops. Who have now been excommunicated by Rome, along with the bishops who ordained them. China is trying to pressure the Vatican to withdraw recognition from Taiwan. All of which reminds me when the Chinese government in 1995 put itself in the business of choosing the next Panchen Lama, claiming that the Dalai Lama had done it wrong: “The Dalai Lama’s arbitrary selection of a soul boy as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama is null and void.”

Speaking of inappropriate, Dick Cheney in Vilnius criticized Russia for being too authoritarian and undemocratic. And for its energy policy. Right message, but so, so, SO the wrong messenger. Really, I’d be hard put to say whether Cheney or Bush has the greater lack of self-awareness: the Dickster said that repressive governments “feed rivalries and hatreds to obscure their own failings. They seek to impose their will by force, and they make our world more dangerous.” But when speaking specifically about Russia, he talked about things the government has done, said “opponents of reform are seeking to reverse the gains of the last decade,” and yet somehow failed to criticize Vladimir Putin personally.

Back in the States, George Bush took some time off from praying next to the winner of the coveted Biggest Beard Prize,

to meet with President Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay. “We’ve had a very extensive conversation,” Bush said, not specifying what language it was conducted in, “about -- we talked about a lot of subjects. We talked about the human condition.” I guess Vazquez wanted an outsider’s perspective.

That joke is courtesy of “Taxi,” c.1980.

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