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A Surreality Check

By Richard Cohen

Welcome back.

While you were on vacation and, of course, brooding about your life, your job and your relationships (Why? What for? What does it all mean?), I compiled a list of major news events that you might have missed and which now, as a public service, I present to you in abbreviated form:

President Bush likened the war in Iraq to World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and, it seems, all previous wars with the possible exception of the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739-41), which was an odd conflict but lacking, you should know, any monumentally dumb statements by Don Rumsfeld.

Fred Thompson lost his fourth key campaign aide even before having an official campaign. He promised stability in the White House.

John Edwards vowed he would sell his mansion in North Carolina and his financial investments in child-labor funds and would live forevermore in a hovel. He donated his comb to the Smithsonian.

Mitt Romney said he had realized halfway through his term as Massachusetts governor that he was really against abortion, gun control and gay marriage and had been getting things backward most of his natural life. He promptly changed his name to Timm Romney and insisted it had been his name all along.

Bill Richardson revised his statement about how jet lag led him to misstate his position on whether people are born gay or choose to be gay. Richardson confessed he heard the word "choice" and thought, because he is a Democrat, "Aha!" He said he favored "a man's right to choose."

On a voice vote, congressional Republicans decided to limit themselves to one sex crime per session.

Leona Helmsley died and left $12 million to her dog. The pooch was interviewed on "Today" by Ann Curry and Matt Lauer.

Bill Richardson changed his position again. He said he wasn't jet-lagged. He was carsick.

Michael Vick admitted to killing "approximately six to eight dogs" but insisted he had never bet on the fights, which would have been a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy.

Hillary Clinton called on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to resign and be replaced by Judith Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani retracted his statement that he had spent as much time at Ground Zero as had first responders but said some of the time he was trying to pry a giant ape off the Empire State Building.

Alberto Gonzales denied he was a liar and denied he was quitting and then quit. We await the other shoe.

Barry Bonds tripped and shattered into 23 pieces.

William Kristol called for an invasion of Venezuela and East Hampton. Instantly, the proposal was debated throughout the entire weekend on TV talk shows.

Rep. Tom Tancredo blamed the Minneapolis bridge collapse on "fat illegal aliens." This too was widely discussed.

Fred Thompson admitted he had once lobbied on behalf of pro-abortion groups. He said he had been jet-lagged at the time.

Karl Rove quit the White House and, in a series of interviews, cited his success in Iraq, Afghanistan, the president's approval rating and control of Congress. His family considered institutionalizing him.

A survey of political bloggers showed that 94 percent of them had never been out of the country or read anything other than a Harry Potter book.

People magazine admitted that there is no such person as Lindsay Lohan.

Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal after vowing to no longer be Rupert Murdoch. Timm Romney said he understood.

There was a leak of plans to keep American troops in Iraq forever or for only 30 years or for only two more years or none of the above. This is because the surge is succeeding, failing, succeeding here but failing there or totally beside the point because that country's still going to fall apart.

Troubles in subprime lending led to market volatility and caused the Fed to open its little-used discount window (but not on Sundays), which, of course, has an impact in the out-years. Conservatives insisted that the government not intervene in the subprime crisis but continue to tax hedge-fund billionaires at a lower rate than their maids because this, as we know, is what God intended. Conservatives also pointed out that subprime borrowers had lost their homes because they were greedy and believed -- how dare they? -- that they could own houses.

Barack Obama said no one should be called subprime. All the Democrats held hands, agreed and signed a petition by the Subprime Caucus to treat foreclosures as a hate crime.

George W. Bush is still president.


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