George Bush, Chicken Little, and Why the Political Sky Is Falling

Article excerpt

Byline: Chuck Goudie

We begin this morning with a brief reading comprehension test, to assist those of you who remain bewildered by President Bush's Iraq/Africa/uranium imbroglio.

Please study the following story and then answer a simple question.

"One day Chicken Little was walking in the woods when - KERPLUNK - an acorn fell on her head. 'Oh my goodness!' said Chicken Little. 'The sky is falling!'"

Using the information available in the above story, which of the following statements is true:

a. The sky is falling.

b. Chicken Little reported that the sky is falling.

If you answered, "b. Chicken Little reported that the sky is falling," you pass with honors and are hereby promoted to the second grade.

If you answered "a. The sky is falling," you flunk and must retake reading comprehension.

The Chicken Little test offers valuable insight as to how President George W. Bush and his trusted cabal find themselves still justifying 10 words spoken during the State of the Union speech last winter.

"Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," are the 10 words that Mr. Bush said, according to those who have surgically excised them from a larger sentence.

As I noted here last week, the entire sentence read by Mr. Bush during his State of the Union address attributed the uranium information to the Brits. He told Congress, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Those coming to Mr. Bush's rescue contend he was merely quoting information provided by somebody else.

His supporters assert that if Mr. Bush had said, "Chicken Little reported that the sky was falling," his political enemies would have merely lifted the last portion of that sentence and accused Bush of trying to convince Americans that "the sky was falling."

The last time there was such contextual concern about the words of a president his name was Clinton and we were debating the definition of "is."

In this case however, one would have thought that the accurate reporting of exactly what was said would have extinguished the firestorm now engulfing the White House.

From the inside, Bush staffers did the president no favor by apologizing for his statement before determining how it all came about or even whether it was true. …