Bush's symbolism sends fine message of strength

Tuesday, May 13, 2003 at 1:00am

I think it was Adlai Stevenson who said that America can choke on a gnat but swallow tigers whole. We've just defeated the rabid tiger of Saddam Hussein, but we're gagging over one of the most insignificant controversies in a long while. I'm referring, of course, to the "scandal" of President Bush landing on an aircraft carrier.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who over his career has led numerous fights to sluice billions of dollars out of taxpayers' pockets for various liberal programs, is now demanding an investigation into how much the president's photo-op cost.

Alas, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) has spent so much taxpayer money on personal porcine priorities he could not possibly complain about the costs. So the good senator went a different route, prattling on about Bush's "self-congratulatory" and "flamboyant showmanship."

This presents one of those terrible conflicts we all face from time to time: Do you take an argument seriously on its own terms, or do you cynically say this is all political hoo-hah? My instinct says it's all hoo-hah.

But, then again, what's nonsense to some is important to others. For example, in 1988, George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis in part because Dukakis is Greek for "fashioned by the gods to lose national elections," but also because Bush successfully used symbolic issues

Filed under: City Voices