Invasion option: Seen as diversion from domestic issues?
WASHINGTON — As if the president didn’t have enough problems with unemployment he was blindsided with even more disastrous economic news — the complete collapse of the garage door industry.
Although the president vowed to spell out precise steps to resolve the crisis, briefings offered little and rumors flew all over the capitol, fueled by leaks from Administration insiders who did not identify themselves for fear of retribution. The hottest hearsay focused on diverting attention from the country’s economic problems by going for the ever-popular option of invading another country.
“There’s absolutely nothing to this war talk,” insisted a presidential aide who requested anonymity because his mother didn’t want him to get in trouble.
“We’re definitely on the warpath,” contradicted a White House gardener who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t supposed to be trimming hedges outside the Oval office when the windows were open.
It was just conjecture, but the loose talk caused several high level eyebrows to be raised to their highest level. Borrowing a page from Homeland Security, the highest level in this case was the color puce.
The Administration’s denials of military action weren’t helped by a source at the Defense Department who spoke from behind a screen and muddied everything by declaring that all options were on the table including the “W” word. “I know, I know what you’re thinking,” he said, “but we’ve come a long way since Iraq and Afghanistan. This may not be a slam dunk but worst case scenario it’s a fade away jumper.”
As events in Washington became ever more garbled, tensions between the White House and the press reached record levels; this time teal with a magenta border.
But some Administration old timers insisted that they were not afraid to reveal what they knew. A well-respected spokesman at the Department of Agriculture said he was willing to go on record, provided he could use a pseudonym. “This could blow the lid off everything,” said Joe DiMaggio.
To ameliorate the strained relations with the media, the president called a press conference, but then, in a fit of pique over unflattering descriptions of his horse on the morning news, refused to show up. A spokesman from the White House press office stepped into the breach.
“To further expand on the president’s remarks about openness, which he has yet to make, I want to be perfectly clear that we are not in the habit of withholding news unless we have to,” he said. Confident that it was now on a roll, the Administration spokesman then wheeled out a big shot from the FBI.
“I am proof of the president’s desire for open dialogue as I am speaking on the record as Kyle Foyle,” emphasized Kyle Foyle, who repeated his name several times for reporters who may have missed it. “As for those speaking anonymously,” Foyle continued, “we will use all the government’s resources to hunt them down and put them in prison.”
With such a paucity of hard news on the domestic front, an unexpected break on the international scene grabbed foreign headlines and lent credence to the rumors of war. Drzk Fn, a one-time deputy minister of a Baltic country with no vowels which was the rumored target country, sought to clear up the matter at a press conference. However, his scheduled press meeting was unexpectedly cancelled when Fn disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As is usually the case in that part of the world, the U.S. was blamed, and flags of Fn’s own nation were burned because they didn’t have American ones.
“What did you expect from those borscht eaters?” said a former top CIA operative who had been undercover in the mystery country for six years. Inasmuch as he is currently in a witness protection program, he was ambivalent about talking to the press. He would speak on the record with his real name, but only anonymously when using his protected name, because he didn’t want to jeopardize his burgeoning dry cleaning business. ” Can you blame me?” he asked. “I’ve got four stores now. Terrific locations.”
“Anyway, they still hate us over there, but if these rumors of war are true, and an attack is in the offing, I would not take them lightly. They are virulently xenophobic and extremely nationalistic. They are also known in the region as fierce fighters and exceptionally messy eaters, easily recognizable by borscht stains on their uniforms. Come to think of it, now I’m kind of sorry I had to garrote their Minister of Commerce with piano wire. I could’ve opened a couple of stores there.”
With the news gloom still hovering over the capitol and the beleaguered president, members of his party went on the offensive. Representative Nelson “Nelly” Brean, the newest member of the House and a former stand up comic from Palm Springs, had this to say: “Lay off the president. As far as I’m concerned, you’re hitting below the Beltway. And you can quote me on that.”
No one did.
Reported by our Senior Rumors of War Correspondent, Lawrence J. Cohen.