Candy Bar Blues

by Deborah Wassel | 11/8/04 6:00am

When a second-grader makes a mistake on a math problem, we pat him on the back and tell him to try again. He falters, realizes he has made a mistake, and struggles to correct it. However, the man who will occupy the White House for four more years is no primary school student, and mounting American deaths in Iraq are no simple mathematical error.

What we have done, essentially, is given our toddler president an E for effort and asked him to try again.

We're giving him four more years to accomplish what he was supposed to have done in the first four. All that he did his first term was insist fervently that two plus two equaled five. When challenged, he responded with a cool "because God told me so."

While we prepare for four more years of lies, economic stagnation and unnecessary military deaths, every other nation's citizens are scratching their collective heads, wondering how in God's name we elected him for a second term.

Then again, that is precisely the problem: we elected him in God's name.

The president's position is not one of absolute power. He is not the Pope. He is not a God, yet we treat him as though he can do no wrong. He never was or will be held accountable for his mistakes; either they are someone else's, or they simply don't exist.

When the last president couldn't keep his pants on and lied about it, the electorate had a field day. But Clinton left us with a surplus, and one of the strongest economies we'd seen in a while. This president has lied time and time again, causing thousands of deaths, millions of jobs lost and a divide in this country so deep that it is doubtful the two sides will meet again.

Still, the American people have faith that Bush is a "good guy," someone they'd like to have a beer with. Is a beer buddy really someone we want running the United States?

A week before the election, news broke that our deified leader had allowed three hundred and seventy-seven tons of explosives to be captured by Iraqi insurgents and then covered it up in order to save face. His response when questioned was that the insurgents had already had explosives -- what difference would a few more make?

And still, the American people elected George W. Bush on faith, believing that he would do better.

But doing better is simply not enough. Doing better, in W's case, would mean actually doing his job in the first place, instead of being on vacation more often than in the oval office. Doing better would mean trying to help all citizens, not just those in top income bracket. Doing better would mean telling the truth to the American people, something that this administration has been loathe to do.

Today, I am ashamed to call myself an American in the face of the world community. Everyone is laughing at us, the obese American child in the corner who simply can't stop eating. No matter how hard he tries, he continues to consume the sweet, sticky promises of a beautiful and happy future -- now if only he could lose the baby fat.

George W. Bush has become our baby fat, a reminder of the immature and undeveloped time in our lives. Now we are four years older, and for the last few months we have been struggling with a diet to shed those extra pounds.

But yesterday, we stepped off the scale, sighed, and reached for that candy bar, resigned to our former state. We'll start exercising in another four years, we tell ourselves, happily munching away at the deficit and the number of soldiers still alive overseas.

The American people were given hope last Tuesday, and they threw it away willingly like the wrappers of their candy bars.