Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I don't know who did this, but in case you haven't seen it yet, this is the most ingenious, creative, and darkly funny critique of the controversy over the president's "inaction" in the face of the ballyhooed "President's Daily Briefing" that I've seen.

The premise is that it is a review of two books--one from the Sidney Blumenthal on the left, the other from Ann Coulter the right--released after President Bush has been impeached following "Saudigate." The Bush Administration, looking to fabricate a war to prop up it's dubious electoral legitimacy, arrested 19 Arab men, mostly citizens of Saudi Arabia, as they boarded commercial airplanes on September 11, 2001:
The Saudi government naturally protested, and Attorney General John Ashcroft responded by publicly making an astonishing accusation: that the 19 had intended to hijack the airplanes and crash them into the White House, the Pentagon and the two main towers of the World Trade Center. This plot, more like a Tom Clancy novel than a real world occurrence, had supposedly been set in motion by Osama bin-Laden, a Saudi businessman living in exile in Afghanistan who called himself the leader of a shadowy, and probably shadow-thin, network of religious fanatics. Ashcroft dubbed the group "al-Qa'eda" ("the Foundation"), a name that some of those involved may have used but that is more firmly linked, as Blumenthal notes in one of many enlightening asides, to the science fiction novels of Isaac Asimov. The SF resonance evidently appealed to the White House aides who were primarily responsible for manufacturing a "crisis" to shore up a tottering administration. Blumenthal credits the idea to a second-level speech writer named David Frum, a Canadian import whose wife is a best selling novelist.
Of course, as the alternative history shows, the supposed evidence against the 19 was nearly non-existent, and the run-amok Bush Administration was exposed as trying to strengthen itself at the expense of Osama Bin Laden, who had been effectively neutered by the Clinton Administration (he was known to be living in a cave in Afghanistan) years before:
It did not take long for the "plot" to unravel. Called on for evidence, the Justice Department could produce almost nothing admissible in court. Some wiretapped conversations and documents found on the "conspirators"? laptop computers could be interpreted as showing that they were not the most upstanding of citizens, but Ashcroft's image of Islamic extremists was quickly shown to be beyond far-fetched. These alleged adherents of the rigorously puritan Wahhabi sect had been gambling and consorting with unveiled women in Las Vegas! The cases went nowhere in court, and the Attorney General was the first of the Bush team to resign in disgrace.
It's brilliant satire, and the Democratic reaction to Bush's preemptive nabbing of the Saudis rings true in every last detail.

Gregg Easterbrook also presents his own version of an alternative history, in which President Bush, acting on the PDB, launches a preemptive strike against Afghanistan, which eventually leads to his impeachment when the threat fails to materialize:
"We are supposed to believe that attacking people in caves in some place called Tora Bora is worth the life of even one single U.S. soldier?" former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey asked . . . Announcing his candidacy for the 2004 Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain said today that "George W. Bush was very foolish and naïve; he didn't realize he was being pushed into this needless conflict by oil interests that wanted to seize Afghanistan to run a pipeline across it." McCain spoke at a campaign rally at the World Trade Center in New York City.
Also, check out Swamphopper at the Rough Woodsman for his amusing take on the president's inaction in the face of all the car accident deaths that he's been warned might take place in the future.

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