Vote for mom.

The New York Times has a story today that says female politicians are more likely, these days, to emphasize their maternity in selling themselves to the voting public, i.e., vote for me, I’m a mom. Hmm. The story goes into some detail about what a radical departure this is, as previously being a mommy was seen as a sign of weakness: For a long time women seeking high office, particularly executive office, were advised to play down their softer, domestic side, and play up their strength and qualifications. Focus groups often found voters questioning whether women were strong enough, tough enough, to lead. Huh. This just goes to show why I’m ill-suited for a career in politics, as it would be difficult to have one for very long before one developed an all-consuming contempt for voters.

Case in point: I once interviewed a woman at a rally for Dan Quayle. This was when he was briefly running for president, in 2000. “What do you like about him as a candidate?” I asked. “His marriage,” she said. “Go on,” I said. “Just…his marriage,” she said. Unspoken was her obvious contempt of the current occupant of the White House, who was also married, but who cheated on his wife. Quayle didn’t stay in the race long, and I assume this woman ended up voting for George Bush, who was also married. I wonder if she ever remembers this moment and feels like an idiot. My guess: No. One of the subsequent holders of Quayle’s foot-in-the-D.C.-door congressional seat is my old congressman, Mark Souder. He chickenhawked his way out of Vietnam as a conscientious objector and later was a strong booster of the Iraq war.

The archives of American newspapers are full of blustery quotes by male politicians who vowed to “protect” America, as though they were out there patrolling Fallujah in a Humvee, not sitting in Congress risking no injury more severe than accidental stabbing with a ballpoint pen. Remember when that crazy man came into the Capitol building with a gun and started shooting? It was a few years ago; he killed two Capitol police officers. Who was the testosterone-drenched congressman whose response was to lock the office door and crouch behind the desk? Tom DeLay? I think so. I remember thinking at the time, maybe this will be the incident that finally makes us confront the disgraceful state of care for the mentally ill in this country; perhaps it will be led by Congress, whose home was shot up by a man whose most recent treatment was “Greyhound therapy” — the inside-baseball jargon for buying a troublesome nutcase a ticket to another town, where he can be some other locality’s problem. No. Instead the talk was immediately about the far more useful tactic of arming everyone, so that the next attack could be answered by a hail of bullets by brave armed citizens.

If this is what passes for strength in Washington, bring on the mommies. At least I know they’ve been thrown up on and changed about two million diapers. That’s harder than flapping one’s gums.

The bloggage:

Glory hallelujah, I never thought it would happen, and it has happened, and so it must be shouted to the heavens: I finally found a post-“Close Encounters” movie directed by Steven Spielberg that I actually like. “Munich.” Those who know me know this is a true milestone; I’m probably the most reliable Spielberg-hater in five counties. I’m still so stunned that I think I’m going to have to digest it for a few days before I can write about it. I just thought the date should be noted somewhere.

I don’t know why this is amusing, but The Sun has found topless photos/screen captures of all the nominees for Best Actress. (Probably NSFW, depending on where you W.) No, I know why it’s amusing: Because they asked, in the lead-in, who has the best “jubblies” on this year’s red carpet. Surprise of the bunch: Judi Dench. Yes, I said Judi Dench.

There are very few reporters who could write a first-person account of this personal problem — trying to get one’s passport renewed in a matter of days, after one has noticed its expiration and one has a non-refundable flight to Paris coming up — without sounding like an overprivileged twit. The phrase boo-freakin’-hoo comes to mind. And yet, most reporters are not Jon Carroll:

It was still dark outside. I sat on the narrow steps of the passport building. I guess I must have been looming in the gloaming, because I alarmed passers-by who suddenly rounded the corner and encountered my slumping form. I dialed the number on the window. I was placed on hold. I was on hold for quite a while. I began to realize that I looked a lot like an indigent person, huddled in a darkened doorway with an old cell phone pressed to my ear. Were a police officer to come along, what would I say? “I’m on hold with the State Department?” Yeah, I bet that works.

Forty-five minutes are up. Go have yourself a Monday.

Posted at 10:41 am in Current events, Media, Movies |

41 responses to “Vote for mom.”

  1. Danny said on January 29, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Munich was OK, but it did not redeem Spielberg for me. There was one odd thing I noted. The lead actor, Eric Bana, looked very much like the guy who played Bernard in Billy Jack. We had recently watched Billy Jack for some laughs and then saw Munich, hence the comparison.

    And Nance, you may be cut out for politics. Seems like most politicians have an all-consuming contempt for the voters.

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  2. nancy said on January 29, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Whoa, I never said “Munich” redeemed Spielberg; it was just better than I expected by a country mile. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he returns to form, with the pounding scores, upturned faces bathed in golden light and heavy-handed direction I’ve learned to expect from the guy. My point: He doesn’t do nuance well, and he did nuance pretty-OK in “Munich,” so.

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  3. Danny said on January 29, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    You know, whenever I think of Spieberg, I always think of Lucas too. In my mind, Lucas made one great film. American Grafitti. Nowadays, like Spielberg, he is just given too much creative control and he turns everything he touches into a steaming pile.

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  4. brian stouder said on January 29, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Check out this article subheaded “food or lewd”, which includes pictures of women breast feeding their babies at the airport, in protest of an airline’s expulsion of a family because mom was feeding her baby.

    If female politicians are going to run on motherhood and apple pie – they could do worse than to embrace this issue

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  5. LA mary said on January 29, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I know I’m cynical. I’ve earned the right to be cynical about some things. But voting for George Bush over Al Gore because of his marriage is just incredibly stupid. If you think someone with W’s past came home to wifey every night sober and respectful and ready to change diapers and take out the trash, you’re dumber than he is. Yes, he was an undependable, bailed out by daddy at every turn, alcoholic and coke head, but when it came to doing his part to create a happy marriage, he was really a standout.

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  6. ashley said on January 29, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    You get ads by google. I applied, and they turned me down. Too much profanity, as it were. I think maybe I’ll use abbreviations.

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  7. Danny said on January 29, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Well, I really, really doubt that many people voted for George Bush because of his marriage (though Laura is a great first lady). Nancy’s man-on-the-street interview experience is not statistically significant. That said, I know that much of the electorate was pretty tired of Bill’s act. It seemed like an endless parade of women with which he either had consensual or extremely non-consensual encounters (Kathleen Willey). Unfortuinately for Al Gore, he was damaged politically by his association to Bill.

    But my guess is that when 9-11 went down, Al Gore hit his knees and thanked God he had not won the election.

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  8. nancy said on January 29, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    George Bush is the greatest thing that ever happened to Bill Clinton’s reputation. I wonder how many people now think of a blowjob as a firing offense for a president.

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  9. michaelj said on January 29, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Judy Dench did not have the nicest breasts in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dianna Rigg did.

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  10. LA mary said on January 29, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    I often hear that people rate Laura Bush highly. I haven’t figured out why. I’m not saying she’s bad. She strikes me as another smiling supportive first lady. I thought the first president Bush’s wife was pretty nasty, and I have the sense that Laura has been told how to do her job by Barbara Bush. Basically, shut up and support the family franchise.

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  11. Danny said on January 29, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    I never did think it was a firing offense, but because he could not keep it zipped (and I am not talking about just Monica), he was continually distracted by personal issues and this contributed to his inability to focus on important issues like Bin Laden.

    And say what you will about George Bush (God knows the man can be an idiot), but not much of this is his fault. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE (the Brits, the Russians, everyone), thought Iraq had WMD’s. “Bush Lied, People Died,” is a bunch of crap. So logically, once we are in Iraq and Hussien is deposed (albeit for faulty intel), now we have to deal with it. And it’s a mess. And the Democrats don’t have any good ideas either.

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  12. LA mary said on January 29, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Bill Clinton was distracted by an investigation of every freaking thing he did. How many millions of dollars were spent trying to prove he was crooked?

    Bush’s being an idiot is entirely his fault. He’s an idiot who had a lifetime of advantages given to him and he squandered every one of them. Now it’s not just his daddy and his daddy’s friends who are paying for his screw ups. It’s the whole country. Hundreds of thousands of people have died because Bush is an idiot. He lied. That’s not crap, that’s the truth. He still lies, but finds fewer people believe him now.

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  13. Danny said on January 29, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Mary, I back up what I say with facts, you do not. Why? I mean, if the lies you allege are so obvious, let’s hear them.

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  14. Danny said on January 29, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    On second thought, nevermind. I’m busy today and probably will not have time to get into this.

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  15. nancy said on January 29, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    I agree this is a fight we can all agree not to have, but if I had to take a side on this, I’d come down on Mary’s. Clinton’s “distraction” was as much due to Ken Starr than any random piece of tail, and hoo-boy, Iraq? If Bush doesn’t carry the blame on that — and agreed, he was manipulated into it by various dark princes in the administration and its inner orbits — than who does? It wasn’t Tony Blair’s idea to invade; he just backed the play. But it wasn’t just the initial move, as many far wiser than me have written at book-length about. This was screwed up at every step of the game, up to and including this morning. More’s the pity.

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  16. Maryo said on January 29, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Yikes! Not that I wouldn’t mind getting my hands dirty in a Dubya v. Clinton fight, but all I wanted to do was talk about women using their mommy bona fides to run for office.

    More power to us if that’s the trend. But I hope never again to hear anyone say, “We’re here for the children.” That’s a sure sign to run for the hills.

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  17. brian stouder said on January 29, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    well, and I made no remark on this, LaMary! For what it’s worth – If I DID rate Laura highly – certainly I wouldn’t rate her higher than Tipper Gore for example….and I recall Madam Telling Tales writing a pretty funny, somewhat cranky article about Mrs. Gore’s Parental Warning Label campaign for pop-music albums (about eleventy-seven years ago)…whereas good ol’ Laura campaigns for librarys and for youth reading programs.

    Just sayin’…

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  18. LA mary said on January 29, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Tipper wasn’t ever first lady, and she did use her second lady status to open up health benefits for mental health and destigmatize it. But there was that lame period when she was for those stickers on albums, yes. I have to say I was more of a Frank Zappa fan than a Tipper Gore fan.

    Being pro-reading is hardly going out on a limb.

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  19. brian stouder said on January 29, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Being pro-reading is hardly going out on a limb.

    whereas being anti-rock music is enlightened?

    But to be clear, I always liked ol’ Tipper (really!) – and I didn’t have a dog in this fight (so to speak) until I got gratuitously called out!

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  20. LA mary said on January 29, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Being open about a personal bout of depression is going out on a limb. She did that.

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  21. Dorothy said on January 29, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Amen to that, Mary. Having gone thru depression issues with my husband, I have to say it’s not easy to talk about with other people. Well, it is more nowadays, but back when he was first diagnosed we were kind of tight lipped about it.

    I think Laura Bush plays it safe and keeps in the background too much. I’d rather see someone stir it up a bit and get people talking and debating. She’s too quiet for me.

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  22. Joe Kobiela said on January 29, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    LA Mary,
    Have you ever met Barbara Bush?
    My sister In-law has twice, and she said she is just like your Grandmother – very, very nice, My sis-inlaw works for Fed-Ex in Grand Rapids, and the politicians use the Fed-Ex ramp when they fly in, so she has had the chance to meet some people, she raves about how nice Mrs. Bush was to everyone.
    As far as WMD’s go, perhaps if we would have just gone in unannouced and not given the Iraqis 3 or 4 months warning we would have found what we were looking for, or perhaps we should have stopped and checked the convoys of trucks going to Syria. I suppose that would have been a violation of someones human rights though, and they were probably only hauling baby food and medicine for old people.

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  23. LA mary said on January 29, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    I only know what I’ve read about her and what I’ve heard her say. Her comments in the Astro Dome were pretty appalling, and articles about her from the time George HW was in office cite some fairly nasty things. Even people in her circle describe her as someone who never forgets a slight or lets one slide.

    The reason we didn’t find WMDs was that there weren’t any. The UN inspectors didn’t find any. On the other hand, I do remember a wag at the time the war was near saying the reasone we knew Hussein had WMDs was that we had the receipts.

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  24. Joe Kobiela said on January 29, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    If we had the receipt they probably were signed by Billy Clinton. If I were you you might seek out some of the former secret service people that worked for both the Clintons and the Bush’s and ask them whom they would rather work for. I have and the differance would stun you.
    On a nother note, Even though I’am a mean Republican with supposidly no heart, It about killed me today when I heard about Barbaro, Man I was hopping he would survive, what a horse,
    Sorry Nancy.

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  25. LA mary said on January 29, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Actually they were signed by Gerald Ford. Remember that neat photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein?

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  26. Jen said on January 29, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    On the topic of screwing up Iraq, as Nancy mentioned, I want to recommend the Tom Ricks book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. Ricks has been a Pentagon reporter for many years. He’s very knowledgeable, a careful reporter, and an excellent writer.

    I am not the sort of person who typically reads military history for entertainment, but this book is terrific. (I have, in fact, seen Ricks on several news shows talking about his book, and he always sounds just as smart as you’d expect given the book.)

    The book is also profoundly depressing. If invading Iraq had been the best idea in the world and our soldiers had found themselves tripping over piles of WMDs, things would probably be about as bad as they are now because everybody–Bush, Bremer, Rumsfeld, and some of the generals–made so many mistakes in managing the occupation and their response to the insurgency.

    That’s probably more than enough given that no one wanted to have this conversation, but, really, whatever your politics, read the book. Every American should.

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  27. LA mary said on January 29, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Correction, it was the Reagan administration who did business with Saddam Hussein.

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  28. MarkH said on January 29, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Wow. Resurrecting as lot of old business today, aren’t we?

    A point to you, LA mary, for calling Joe on the Clinton mis-characterization. But, you have to give it back on your mis-representation of the Saddam/Rumsfeld photo. Rumsfeld was Ford’s defense secretary up until the end of Ford’s term in 1977. Saddam was at that time only, albiet very powerful, vice-president of Iraq. He did not assume the presidency until the coup he orchestrated in 1979. No high-level US official had visited Iraq since just before Carter took office; until that famous photo, which was taken in 1983, when Rumsfeld was a personal envoy of Reagan’s, sent to Iraq to explore “openings for a new American diplomacy”. Fighting a common enemy, Iran, Saddam heard pledges from Rumsfeld that the US would make every offort to contain Iran in the region, including urging allies to stop arms sales and shipments to Iran. Of course, at that same time, other priorities led the Regan administration to cook up Iran-Contra. Rumsfeld left the Reagan administration in ’85, likely not knowing anything about it. But, the point is, with the US-friendly Shah in power in Iran, Saddam still a few years away from total control of Iraq, the Ford administration had little to do with helping Iraq ’74-’77. During the Iran-Iraq war, however, it was a fact that the US helped Saddam with intelligence, satellite photos, and certainly looked the other way on Saddam’s use of chemical weapons. But there has never been any clear evidence that the US would, or did, supply deadly chemical elements, when it was proven he could get or produce in massive quantities on his own. Wag, indeed.

    “The reason we didn’t find WMD’s is there weren’t any”.

    Really? None at all? Ever? That’s what that statement, repeated ad nauseum in the media for the last two years, implies. That Saddam, Uday and Qusay were just good little boys who were framed all these years. The last weapons inspector, who issued his report to congress, Charles Durfer, distinctly left open the possibility that Joe’s statement is true: that Saddam had time to ferry out of the country whatever he may have been able to build up from the time the UN and IAEA weapons inspectors were thrown out in 1998. This never received the press it deserved.

    And, remember, when those inspectors were thrown out, within a week, defense secretary William Cohen (this is 1998, mary, so he would have been Clinton’s) famously went on Meet The Press and produced a five-pound bag of sugar for Tim Russert, as he explained that’s all the anthrax it would take to wipe out NYC. He went on to say that with the inspectors gone, and their job not finished, we didn’t know what he had left and the situation was extremely dangerous. Shortly afterward, Clinton declared Saddam a world menace and set aside $97 billion to be used in Iraq, in the region through our intelligence, to depose him.

    I am not an Iraq war apologist. I deplore how this thing has been conducted, as necessary as it was to do it. But a little perspective is in order. This stuff on Rumsfeld is on the PBS Frontline webpage.

    Whew. Enough.

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  29. Joe Kobiela said on January 29, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Thanks for the help Mark,

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  30. Danny said on January 30, 2007 at 12:04 am

    Joe and Mark thanks to both of you too. Perspective. I like it. I am not an apologist either.

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  31. basset said on January 30, 2007 at 12:08 am

    Would you all please shut the expletive-deleted UP about Bush, Clinton, WMDs, who’s rude to who or any other topic that we can hear getting beaten to death on talk radio just about anywhere in the English-speaking world?

    I mean, this bunch should be able to have a better conversation than that.

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  32. Danny said on January 30, 2007 at 12:14 am

    I mean, this bunch should be able to have a better conversation than that.

    Well if Yes would get off there butts and start touring again, maybe I would! Van Halen and the Police will be.

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  33. Danny said on January 30, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Plus it’s OK this way sometimes. We’re kinda like a dysfunctional Waltons.

    “Shut up John-Boy.”

    “Neener neener neener, Mary-Ellen.”

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  34. LA Mary said on January 30, 2007 at 2:15 am

    Never, ever, would I say that Saddam, Usay et all were good boys. I did say there were no WMDs when the inspectors were there, and there weren’t. There were none there when we started the war. Bill Cohen and bag of sugar in 1998 notwithstanding, George Bush started a war for reasons that were not true, and he’s only made more of a mess of it since then.
    French, English and US companies sold the components of chemical weapons to Iraq and we looked the other way because we wanted them used on Iran, which they were.

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  35. John said on January 30, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Basset…there is plenty of room on the porch with me. Let’s sit in rockers and watch the squirrels play while we sip iced tea.

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  36. Dagmar said on January 30, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Danny said: “Mary, I back up what I say with facts, you do not. Why? ”

    Uh, no you don’t. Please post some facts on why and facts not your feelings on why Laura Bush is a good first lady. Also please post facts not your political feelings on how ‘everybody’ was convinced there were WMDs”. Sorry many countries and people cried bullcrap. We were call traitors because of it. Many of us saw through the lies, why didn’t you? They still are accepting enlistees up to the age of 42. Hurry, you still have time to serve your country.

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  37. Danny said on January 30, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Sorry many countries and people cried bullcrap. We were call traitors because of it.

    Like Iran and France :::Snicker::: Yeah, and I’m sure Collin Powell was lying. Everyone was lying. Makes a lot of sense. I mean look at what it has done for Bush in the GOP. Look at how popular they are because of this war. Yep, you saw through the lies to their master plan.

    And the Iraq report says that they might have been there. But beacause you diasgaree, you skip that fact.

    Are you always so intellectually dishonest?

    Are you 4dbirds or just some sniper?

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  38. LA Mary said on January 30, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Colin Powell refers to the speech he made to the General Assembly, justifying the invasion of Iraq, as the lowest point in his life.

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  39. Julie said on January 30, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    I can’t resist one more comment: I don’t understand why people persist in believing things about Iraq that not even George Bush believes. He has said, for instance, that he and his administration (and, I gather, intel people in some other countries) expected to find WMDs but didn’t, and he’s never argued that they were moved anywhere–not even in a general way. Durfer may have left open that possibility, but, so far as I know, no such information–either physical or in oral reports–has ever appeared.

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  40. mouse said on January 31, 2007 at 3:20 am

    Not one comment about good ol’e Mark Sauder,
    That term limitin,bible beatin sumbitch.
    He needs to be back behind the counter in the
    store in grabil

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  41. brian stouder said on January 31, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Mouse – I agree about Souder; although having him behind the counter might still be a bit too much – after his barely-restrained-rage campaign ads in the late election.

    Say – check this out

    an excerpt –

    .”Get out of the way!” a news photographer yelled. “I think he might run us over!” said another. White House aides tried to herd the reporters the right way without getting run over themselves. Even the Secret Service got involved, as one agent began yelling at reporters to get clear of the tractor. Watching the chaos below, Bush looked out the tractor’s window and laughed, steering the massive machine into the spot where most of the press corps had been positioned. The episode lasted about a minute, and Bush was still laughing when he pulled to a stop.

    I confess, I got my laugh of the day. Still – the sadistic humor here is somewhat off-putting, eh?

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