Friday, January 20, 2006

George Bush Made Me Do It

I'm not sure if the devil has been demoted, or our president has been promoted, but George W. Bush is catching a lot of blame these days. Some of it well-deserved, no doubt. (Harriet Miers! Poor thing.) But some things simply aren't his fault. Like people hitting their kids. I caught part of a radio talk show last night as I was driving the 6-year-old home from swimming lessons. (He calls them Stroke Lessons because "I already know HOW to swim.") So it was a show I don't normally listen to, but I had it on because these days you never know when the next terrorist attack is coming to a sporting event near you. Some guy calling himself "Larry the Angry Liberal" was on. He was not the host, but rather the guest, and if I understood correctly, he IS a host of his own syndicated show, with about 40 stations carrying him. But he was guesting on someone else's show. Well Larry was having a bad day. A very bad day. Seems due to his position as angry liberal talk show host, someone had confronted him in public (not on his show) and said something to the effect: "If you're against a war for OIL, how come you're still driving a CAR?" And then walked away from him and jumped in his own car with his buddies. This incident angered Larry the Angry Liberal. (Not hard to do, I guess.) It angered him to the point where his blood temperature shot up from 98.6 to 212 degrees. He was extremely angry that this person had asked this question which was designed to stifle debate. Not only that, he had the nerve to walk away and not wait for an answer! Which left poor Larry feeling like a Big Dumb Angry Liberal Talk Show Host. Now as he was relating this story on yesterday evening's talk show, the host asked what his answer would have been if the guy had waited for an answer. "Well I don't really have one," Larry said. But still, he hated the question, and the superior manner in which the man delivered it. He stewed about this so much that he went home and hit his 15-year-old autistic son. Backhanded him across the face. As he later added detail, he said it was dinnertime and the son had banged his spoon on the table (which is not atypical for autistic kids, apparently). Larry had told him to "Shut up," then elbowed him AND struck him. That's a lot of anger. Now, let me say first of all there is probably no person on the planet who hasn't done some awful thing to their kid that they regret immediately upon doing it. Whether it's raising your voice, saying something sarcastic, spanking, propelling, or breaking a toy. (My two kids were fighting over a flag on a wooden stick once. My words had absolutely no effect on them, no matter how I configured them or what tone I delivered them in. So I grabbed the flag and broke it in half right in front of them. Their faces were so devastated that I taped it back together, apologized for losing my temper, and then delivered a lecture on "we must not fight over toys." Which they sort of listened to.) So we're all guilty of this. If you're not, you're a saint, and please put in a good word for me at the Heavenly Happy Hour. And in Larry's defense, he sounded terribly remorseful, almost to the point of tears. Perhaps telling the story on a radio show had a confessional/repentance aspect to it. And I have absolutely no doubt he loves his son and hates the fact that he hit him. But here's where we part philosophical company. He went on to explain that it was not HIS fault that he hit his son. It was George Bush's. Yes! George Bush's "War for Oil" made him do it. That's how bad this war is. And how indifferent George Bush is to what happens to angry liberals' kids. He actually said this as a serious justification. It was not a radio parody or a goof. The host said"How is your son doing now?" and Larry mumbled something about that they would patch things up and everything would be fine and so forth. The host didn't really go after him, just sort of commented, "so you think this is George Bush's fault..." in a kind of incredulous tone. Then he took a caller. The caller was a lady who said it was NOT George Bush's fault, it was HIS fault he had hit his son. Whereupon Larry accused her of being a Bush supporter. (she said she was not) He then asked her what she thought of this War for Oil vs Driving A Car argument. She said she did not CARE about that issue, she was concerned about the guy's son, and his way of dealing with anger. Larry was much more interested in getting to the bottom of the oil vs cars conundrum, whereas this lady was extremely interested in his parenting skills. Believe me, I was rooting for the lady! Go Common Sense Woman, Go! This was irritating Larry, who then explained it this way. HE was like a bunch of dry weeds, and George Bush threw a match at him. It was not HIS fault he grew into a brush fire! The lady then said, "That's a bad anaolgy...weeds don't have BRAINS!" She was probably wondering if Larry had one. He then asked her if she was an educator. (No. Probably just a parent.) But let's put it this way, if Larry really does think he's like "weeds" he'd better think about what people like to do with weeds. Exterminate them! Not that I am suggesting anyone exterminate Larry. I'm just suggesting that his metaphors have managed to make him look like an even worse parent than his original story did. How is this any different than hitting your kid because your football team lost? Because your boss yelled at you? Because you misplaced your car keys? I totally agree with that lady. This was an anger issue, not a "George Bush made me hit my kid" issue. If you can use that as an excuse, you can use anything. It really made me want to tell Larry to shut up. And then elbow him and backhand him across the face. But I didn't. And I didn't do it to anyone else, either. How would Larry feel if "I" hit his kid because of "George Bush's War For Oil?" Gee, do you think he'd press charges or sue? Larry, whoever he is, is really sorry. But he needs to understand that nobody can make you hit your kid but you.

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