The country's moody and blaming President Bush

Mike Royko kfB

November 13, 1991|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

I KINDA FEEL sorry for President Bush," said Slats Grobnik, "the way he's bein' treated by all the ingrates."

What ingrates are you referring to?

"The ones in the polls who don't think he's doin' a great job no more."

Yes, his popularity has slumped. But why do you consider that ingratitude?

"See? You're like the rest. You got a short memory."

What have I forgotten?

"The man's winning streak. He's only been president for about three years, and he's already won two wars. When was the last time we had a president who did that?"

How do you come to that figure?

"Panama. OK, Panama wasn't much of a war. More like a big drug bust. So make it 1 1/2 wars. He still broke our losing streak. But when was the last time you saw a yellow ribbon?"

Now that you mention it, I haven't seen one in months.

"Right. What was it, six or seven months ago, everybody in the country has got yellow ribbons on their houses and their cars and lapels. People are looking at their TVs and seein' those Pentagon video games of bridges blowin' up, and they're giving each other high fives. I was in a sports bar that had 18 TV sets going at the same time, and they were all tuned to the war, and whenever Gen. Schwarzkopf came on, everybody in the joint made woofing noises like when the Bears play, and they all threw wet napkins at the TVs when they showed that guy Peter Arnett. I mean, this country was feeling great."

Yes, there was an outpouring of nationalistic fervor.

"And then the way our tanks did that dipsy-do end run and Hussein's guys were on the run, and we showed everybody in the world that even if the Japs make better cars and TVs, nobody can touch us when it comes to tanks and missiles."

True, and what a pity that Patriot missiles aren't a consumer item.

"Then we had all those welcome-home parades. It was so great. There were even welcome-home parades for guys who never left home, which shows how good we were feeling."

Careful. You said guys. Remember the females who took part.

"Sorry, I didn't know I had to be sensitive when it's just you and me talkin'. Anyways, who did it all? George Bush, that's who. He made Kuwait free again. Of course, it wasn't free in the first place, but at least he made Hussein get off that emir's golden toilet so the emir could sit down."

Yes, it was a time of high spirits.

"So what happens? As soon as the parades are over, you don't see any more yellow ribbons, and now it's like people are sayin': 'What have you done for us lately?'"

But you can't expect people to sustain a patriotic, war-induced high indefinitely. As the modern philosophers like to say: "I gotta get on with my life." And that's what people are doing. And unfortunately, we happen to be in a recession and people are angry about many things.

"That's what I mean. How can we go from being so happy and proud to being so miserable and crabby in only six months? What do the shrinks call that -- maniac depreciation?"

You mean manic depression, a severe swing in moods.

"Right. That's what this country's got, manic depression. We got all manic, now we're all depressed."

Possibly. But there were reasons for it. During the war, we had the thrill, the joy, the pride of seeing our planes efficiently destroy another country, smashing it almost back to the Stone Age, spreading death and misery, bringing its people to their knees. How could one not celebrate such a wonderful achievement?

"Then how did we get so miserable so fast?"

Because our economy has slipped. People cannot or will not buy the material goods they crave. Many who had grown accustomed to flashing their credit cards at the slightest whim are now hesitant about even window shopping, for fear they will be tempted. It isn't easy for a nation to quit going to shopping malls cold turkey. With withdrawal from any addiction, there comes anger, panic and depression. And it is Bush's misfortune that much of the anger is directed at him because he is the president.

"But don't winning a war count for nothing? When the parades were going on, all those pundit guys said now he was a cinch to get re-elected. Is this a country of ingrates, or what?"

Who won last year's Super Bowl?

"The Giants. What about it?"

Their fans now boo and jeer them. But look at the bright side of it.

"What's that?"

The emir still likes Bush.

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