(This is satire concerning the ongoing Bush-sitting-in-the-classroom-for-7-minutes debate.)
June 32, 2004: The release of the 9/11 commission report, long supported by the Bush administration but opposed by congressional democrats, has finally shed some light on the precise actions of President Bush during the morning of 9/11 itself. In Bush’s own words:
"When (chief of staff Andrew) Card whispered to me that America was under attack, I was initially too stunned to respond. But after a few seconds, I decided that, as president, I needed to be actively engaged in the chain of command, and see if there was anything I could do. So I got up, excused myself from the classroom, and went out into the hall where my staff was.
The next 20 minutes were the most frustrating and miserable of my entire life. We talked through the entire situation many times, looking at it from every possible angle, and trying to come up with anything useful that we could do. But information was scanty, and in the end we decided that everything that could be dnoe already was being done. But we couldn’t stop thinking about all the suffering and death that was happening to our fellow Americans, right at that moment. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried, and I wasn’t the only one.
Eventually, the secret service decided to move us to Air Force One…"
Congressional Democrats were quick to criticize Bush’s actions. “Why didn’t he do more?”, asks Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. “We elected a former Texas Air National Guard Pilot to be our president for a reason! Why wasn’t he in a jet plane, saving those poor hijacked souls?”
Massachussetts senator Ted Kennedy agreed. His freakishly large head quivering with emotion, he pointed out that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, his brother Jonh F. Kennedy actually developed super powers and used them to help enforce the blockade. And Ronald Reagan is well known to have once single-handedly infiltrated and destroyed a cell of ninja cyborg Russian spies.
Other critics of Bush lambasted him for acting without sufficient restraint. Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 shows gripping footage of the president leaving the elementary school classroom, focussing on the looks of mild confusion and puzzlement on the children left behind. In a searing interview, 1st grader Kimberly Smith talks about how she still doesn’t know what happened to the goat from the book. “I still wake up crying, wondering if he ever made it back to the Happy Red Barn”, she said, Moore’s camera-work highlighting the tears dripping from her frightened little eyes. Her classmate Bobby Hodges clearly remembers how worried he was about what might call the president away in such a hurry. “I thought it might be martians”, he said. “I was really really scared, until I found out that my entire family had been killed on flight 93. Now I’m not scared of martians anymore.”
Author Al Franken has also argued that Bush’s action in leaving the classroom was dangerous and foolish. “Bush is the only one who has the authority to launch preemptive military action,” he points out. “But as long as he’s in a classroom, separated from his staff, it’s much harder for him to do so. By rejoining his staff, he was making it possible for himself to actually exercise the powers of the presidency. Is that something that’s really appropriate in a time of national emergency?”
Numerous debates have sprung up around the internet about the appropriateness of Bush’s preemptive classroom-leaving. On the Straight Dope Message Board, an online forum notable for the liberal pomposity of most of its posters, the criticism has been unceasing, and the countercharges of “oh, c’mon, if he’d just sat there in that classroom and continued to read for 7 minutes, you liberals would be criticizing him for that” have been laughed off.