No Bounce Left: George W. Bush hosted the players and coach of the championship basketball team, the Miami Heat, at the White House yesterday. The players presented him with a team jersey and a basketball. Always more comfortable in the company of athletes than with other world leaders, Bush was his usual jovial self standing next to the towering figure of Shaquille O'Neil. Then he dropped the ball. Bush attempted to bounce the basketball and it landed with a thud - it was under inflated. Recovering quickly, he joined in the laughter of the onlookers. But for me, the moment was apt symbolism of a failed and deflated presidency with no bounce left in its vision or leadership, no matter how much of a brave face the administration puts on it. See the story and the video of the ball that didn't bounce here.
Blind Man's Bluff: Half a world away, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz, already under fire from Israeli voters for mishandling the war in Lebanon, solidified his image of clueless ineptitude by surveying military maneuvers on the Golan Heights through binoculars with the lens caps on! He compounded the spectacle by doing so three times and nodding comprehendingly at General Gabi Ashkenazi who stood next to him and explained the exercise. (Peretz on the right, with the opaque binoculars.)
Too Little, Too Late: The Bush administration's mishandling of the war of terrorism has endangered not just the US but the entire world. After having misled, misguided and bullied all critics and skeptics, the Bush administration diverted its efforts from the legitimate war against Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan to the criminal invasion of Iraq. We are paying for that misadventure with the wanton loss of lives, resources and international goodwill. The administration seems to have belatedly (and grudgingly) acknowledged the unavoidable truth of resurgent terrorist activities in western Pakistan and Afghanistan. So it sent its bravest member, Dick Cheney on a whirl wind tour of false propaganda of brave words and dire warnings around the world. In Japan and Australia, Cheney vowed to win the war on terror with honor. During a surprise visit to Pakistan, he issued a scolding ultimatum of "shape up or else" to the wily General Musharraf who must have choked on his gin and tonic, laughing with derision and mirth. Then Cheney hopped smartly over to Afghanistan to give a pep talk to President Hamid Karzai who is now in reality been reduced to the rank of the Mayor of Kabul. While visiting the Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan, Cheney survived a bomb blast set off by a suicide bomber. Although the VP was almost a third of a mile away from the site of the explosion and was swiftly transferred to a bomb shelter and later flown to Kabul, I bet that the incident will burnish Cheney's super macho warrior image - at least in his own mind. The rest of us? Our despair and cynicism are encapsulated in the accompanying cartoon.
Note: Please click on thumbnails for enlarged image.