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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 31st, 2006 - 00:57:53

Mission incompetence: George W Bush leads the way for bungling overachievers
By Nick Paccione
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 31, 2006, 00:50

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Determined to keep my sanity while on hold with a rude and incompetent doctor�s receptionist who couldn�t transfer my call to the right extension after trying over five times, I started humming a song from the sixties called �Aquarius� and realized that the word �Aquarius� has the same number of syllables as �Incompetence.� And with heartfelt apologies to �Hair� lyricists Ragni and Rado, I started singing, �This is the dawning of the age of incompetence.�

While I was waiting I came up with the whole song:

When the band begins Hail to the Chief
And a fool struts out to speak.
The VP shoots his hunting buddy
And hides behind his latest leak.

This is the spirit of the age of Incompetence!
Age of Incompetence!
Incompetence! Incompetence!

Hurricanes that go unnoticed
Wiretapping for no reason
Lots of falsehoods and derisions
Fundamentalist revisions
Crooked thieving politicians
Cronies making key decisions

Incompetence! Incompetence!

(Repeat �Let the dumb shine in. Let the dumb shine in," etc.)

What does the Bush administration have to do with my incompetent doctor�s receptionist? Everything. Incompetence has been elevated to an art form by the Bush administration. Bush has made it acceptable for my doctor�s receptionist to be an idiot who need not fear that she�ll ever lose her job.

Our president has established a standard whereby the dopiest employees are actually rewarded. He promotes staff members like Alberto Gonzales, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld for furthering the goals of painstaking incompetence in the handling of their respective jobs as they hide behind a familiar and chilling phrase: �Who could have foreseen this latest disaster� whether it be alleged terrorists flying planes into our skyscrapers or floodwaters breeching the levees in New Orleans. Colin Powell couldn�t cut it as an incompetent and he had a hard time lying about the Iraq war so he had to drop out of sight. Conversely, my doctor�s receptionist would fit in well with the Bush crowd. She�d be a superstar.

Sadly, she�s not alone. In the last two months, I�ve dealt with the cable company that promised their elusive repairman would arrive between noon and five on three consecutive Wednesdays. He finally came over on a Friday. There�s the phone company that�s also linked to my DSL computer hook-up that shut off my service at the request of my landlord. After I spent 40 minutes on hold from a neighbor�s phone a sickeningly polite representative told me that she didn�t believe me when I said I own my house and do not have a landlord, which led to a day and a half of wrangling with her and a range of her so-called superiors before getting a pseudo-sympathetic trained seal to admit that they made an inexplicable input error that lead them to agree to reinstate my service at their earliest convenience, which was somewhere around five working days later. There was the churlish clerk at my advertised-as friendly neighborhood supermarket that refused to make eye contact or acknowledge that I�m human, while the box boy spouted the mandatory company line and asked if I need help carrying the single insipid greeting card I purchased out to my car, which had become sandwiched between a Hummer and an Expedition in a space that was designated by lines painted too small to begin with. And how about those pop-up ads that jam my computer, the barrage of daily junk mail that overwhelms my household and the phone solicitors that need my contribution so they can rescue the bottom line of their telemarketing firm that�s working to save various causes from extinction, including the local police force and the Democratic Party?

With Bush as the example in chief, is it any wonder that incompetence has reached such heights in America? Could the incompetent multitudes be better validated by anyone else? Bush represents a conundrum weightier than that of the chicken and the egg. Do we have an incompetent president because voters are ignorant and careless? Are voters ignorant and careless because they�ve been victimized by a barrage of simplistic incompetent politicians and their lynch-men puppets on talk radio and at Fox News? Sadly, most people in America don�t like to think too much if it�s not titillating or if it�s not referenced in their Holy Bible. Take the flag burning amendment that�s been dragged out again in this election year. How many times can this rally the simple minded? Maybe it�s got legs now that Hillary is aboard for the exploitative ride. (Shame on her. She knows better.) �Flag burning is bad therefore politicians that support a �no-burn� amendment must be good.� Is it too complicated for the masses to understand that America and the Constitution are most esteemed because they allow this kind of protest as part of our envied freedoms?

There are countless examples of simple voter ignorance but one of the most telling involves illegal immigrants. Conservatives are fond of saying �they�re here illegally, what more need be said?� They use this logic to attempt to deny school and hospital benefits to these struggling people and their children. Well, there�s a lot more to be said. Conservative-leaning big business executives in America are benefiting in a big way from the cheap labor that �illegals� provide. If incompetence were not the law of the land, then our Republican-led congress could find ways to penalize the folks who are hiring illegals. But that would be a punishment for their big contributors who pay them off to look the other way on just such issues. That�s much too complicated for most Americans to take the time to understand so they fall prey to the Conservative Republican mantra: �Keep it simple, stupid.� Americans are then beat over the head with sound bites that blame all our woes on illegal immigrants and they are encouraged to vote for candidates who validate that simplicity.

But Americans have not only embraced incompetence in government they�ve made it cultural. These two words may be the definitive oxymoron: �American Culture.� What can anyone say about a people that embrace NASCAR, tractor pulls, �Deal or No Deal,� Britney Spears, Anne Coulter, Paris Hilton, Toby Keith, Thomas Kinkaid, Bill O�Reilly and Restless Leg Syndrome but have never visited a museum and think that Michael�s has something to do with art. Because Americans have allowed it, we are experiencing a modern-day version of the seven plagues of Egypt: Telemarketers, talk-radio celebrities, cable news talking heads, infomercials, drug company product, corrupt politicians. Try watching television without viewing 20 minutes of commercials wedged into each half hour for everything from how your penis isn�t hard enough to crap about how some new allergy medicine will clear up your sinuses but may give you chronic diarrhea, blindness, hair loss, sexual organ deconstruction, heart failure, brain tumors, cancerous growths on your hemorrhoids or dry mouth.

All of this garbage was well in progress before Bush became president but his leadership has opened the gates for a virtual jamboree of all-things ineffectual. On the American incompetence org chart, the name George W Bush is engraved in the box at the top and this is the most damaging part of his legacy because it indicates hopelessness; that there may be no room left for recovery. Is this the role model that our children should aspire to imitate? With Bush at the helm, there�s more corporate incompetence rooted in greed; more worker incompetence rooted in indifference; more grammatical incompetence rooted in a broken education system; more voter incompetence rooted in ignorance; more government incompetence rooted in a thirst for power for the sake of power. And why try to do better when you too could be president someday? How about a cabinet position?

Take a look around. It�s not the dawning of the age of incompetence; it�s farther along than that. And it will probably get worse before it gets better and I need to wrap this up before the next flurry of pop-up ads cause this computer to crash.

Nick Paccione is a freelance writer living in Long Beach, California.

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