Monday, February 23, 2004

"The President is Not a Statistician"

That astonishing assertion came last week from presidential press secretary Scott McClellan. He was trying his best to stave off aggressive questioning from the White House press corps, seemingly reawakened by the growing Bush credibility gap, about some job-forecast numbers. In its pithiness and hilarious counterintuitiveness (who, after all, thinks poor George W. is a statistician?), I think it has a fighting chance to become one of the really memorable statements of this presidency--at least among comedians. It may never rank up there with "I am not a crook" or "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky," but then George W. somehow offers historians and pundits both so much less and so much more to work with than even Clinton and Nixon when it comes to material. Let's just make sure that we don't get four more years of this dreck, shall we?

Besides, I think these press jackals are missing the real story, which is featured prominently on the home page of the White House website: the death of the president's dog, Spot (yes, like the old Dick and Jane monosyllabic readers, your president has, or rather had, a dog named Spot). I especially love how you can click on the larger story to read Spot's bio. I know poor McClellan would prefer that our attention be focused today on Spot, may he rest in peace. But I prefer to dwell on some of these other issues of lagging credibility.

Vasectomy Zoning. If you live long enough, you'll encounter just about everything in this life. This fascinating new coinage is shorthand for that growing cohort of increasingly militant married but childless couples who insist on the same respect as that accorded their "breeder" counterparts. Check out this interesting piece on the growing movement in this week's Boston Globe Magazine.

Finally, we bring you a great quote from the writer Alfred Kazin, who once honored the impossibly felicitous essayist Edward Hoagland with some of the highest praise one writer can give another. Hoagland, he said, "is a virtuoso of the reader-capsizing sentence." Now, if that doesn't convince you to track down some of the great one's writing, nothing will...


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