Perhaps nothing illustrates more clearly the line between the privileged and the not privileged in our country than the definition of “sacrifice.” Allow me to introduce “Exhibit A,” one very white, very wealthy, very often bailed-out-by-daddy-good-ole-boy, aka “The Decider” and Leader of the Free World, George W. Bush.
Take a look at this exchange (emphasis mine) between “W” and Jim Lehrer from last night:
MR. LEHRER: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, Mr. President. If it is as important as you’ve just said – and you’ve said it many times – as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it’s that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military – the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They’re the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we’ve got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.
Yes, Mr. President, my psychology “is somewhat down” these days. You know, all I see are dead people and busted-up Humvees on my Sony flatscreen whenever I happen to skim across some downer national news program on my way to watching ‘Deal or No Deal’ or the newest ‘American Idol.’ It is such a total bummer and like, yeah, I feel like my peace of mind is being threatened or something ’cause I don’t think I should have to see that stuff at all. I mean, look, check my palms and my feet and you’ll see signs of sympathetic stigmata ’cause my peace of mind is like, SO THREATENED. Really, I think I’m a friggin’ saint or something and, what’s that you’re saying about raising taxes on the wealthy?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Now, here in Washington when I say, “What do you mean by that?,” they say, “Well, why don’t you raise their taxes; that’ll cause there to be a sacrifice.” I strongly oppose that. If that’s the kind of sacrifice people are talking about, I’m not for it because raising taxes will hurt this growing economy. And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life’s moving on, that they’re able to make a living and send their kids to college and put more money on the table.
Wait. Money on the table? Ok, ok, I know – not fair to parse the words of a Yale grad. I’ll cut him some slack and assume he meant to say “food on the table.”
Then again, maybe money is what he meant. The Bush administration’s table, after all, has been one big game board of public scamming where Bush’s friends are encouraged to become war profiteers, where playing with words and redefining goals give new meaning to ‘home team advantage.’ This administration has gambled away every hard-won bit of good foreign relations our country ever had, to say nothing of the lost lives of thousands of soldiers since 2003.
But “W” says he wants families to be able to afford to send their kids to college. Now, that’s something the rest of us schmucks could get behind. You know, something like cutting the interest rates on student loans, for instance, that might help more families send their kids to college. Except The Decider is against that particular policy.
After all, if more young people saw a future that included college and a good paying job, they might stop signing up for tours of duty in the military.
You know, they might actually begin to believe that their lives “are moving on,” as our President likes to say.