Future Tense

In truth, politeness is artificial good humor, it covers the natural want of it, and ends by
rendering habitual a substitute nearly equivalent to the real virtue. — Thomas Jefferson

  George, we’ll be kowtowing to Jong-il’s whims in a very short time the way things’re headin’ now.

  If that happens, history’ll say we screwed up good.  So’ll dad.  But I think he’ll still love me.  I know mom will.

  This minute, there is a very good possibility that we would not draw a nuclear response.  If we wait too long, we can only be assured that any nucs he can get in place to work will answer our move.  But we can give the bastard a break, which, if he values his own ass above all else, can get us what we want.

  Our move?  What are you gettin’ at, Don?  Game of chess?  Do we have time?  My computer’s still trying to teach me.

  George, I’m recommending an immediate ramp-up for war in Korea.  We’ve gotta give that fat egotist an undeniable message that we are preparing to go all the way.

  Give his ass the boot, eh?  More fun than chess.  Lot of statues and stuff to pull down.  Good P.R.  Where’s Snow?

  No, NO!  When we actually strike, we stay at arms length!

  Arms length?  That’s no way to hogtie a steer... and try not to raise your voice like that.  It overpowers your understated devious-and-dangerous side.

  Okay, sorry, but yes, it is the way, if we use the Air Force, Navy, and special-ops-type, large scale, in-and-out operations to clear specific target areas where we either know or suspect they’ve got WMD development going on.  Of course, we’ll be hitting their C’nC, AD, long-reach-offensive sites, air force and navy hard, right from the beginning, as well as any opportunities we have to hit massed troops.

  That’s an awful lot’ve stuff, Rummy.  You sure we have enough air power to do all that?  Of course y’are.  Fergot for a moment there that you’re you.  Sorry.

  And naval.  Most of the North is under the Navy’s sweep, too.  But, no, not enough power, now.  We’ll have to build up to it, quickly... bigger than Desert Storm... move some carriers, subs, air wings, even take the mothballs off some of the crates in Arizona, start settin’ up supply chains like we told the oil guys to do before Iraq.  But we can reach a point of adequate strength quickly enough.

  And like, I have to remember I’m me.  Can’t pay attention to all the nay-sayers all the time.  We do have a lot in common, don’t we?  Good to be King!  But you say this-all you’re gabbin’ about’ll be adequate?  Adequate for what?  Will they unwrap my old ANG plane?  I heard it was a good one.

  GW, adequate for a comprehensive offense and a layer of defensive alert-response.  Adequate to gain control of the skies while also keeping a continuous bombardment falling on anything that moves south or around known and suspected WMD sites, especially anything that’s big enough to carry one of their devices.  And we can use the older stuff to fly fail-safe points, ground support, whatever else, as needed.  We’ll need standby tactical support and transport wings, as well.

  Fail Safe.  Henry Fonda was a great actor.  Ronnie knew him.  Hard to believe that bitch was the fruit of his loins.  Say, that’s a lot of planes, ‘n we ain’t got that many pilots, do we?  But I’m safe, right?  My presidentiality gives me immunity, right?


  Yes, Leezee?

  Thanks, GW.  My arm was getting tired.  Lifting my credit card all day shopping.  And I hate that name.

  I'll try ‘n stick to “Condi,” then.

  Of course, it’s all your prerogative, GW, but I'd appreciate it.  Just not that Leezee!

  You got it.

  Thank you.  So, Don, you’re talking a limited action, then, expecting them to be too busy for anything except defensive response?  No coalition or allies, we’re all alone.  Is that it?

  Yes, at first, except for Korean troops at the DMZ.  We need to keep U.S. troops at a distance until we build the ground force and have an indication on what their response is going to be.  And, George, if we really get lucky, it’ll be almost instantaneous to call a temporary cease-fire without large-scale ground troops involved.  No territorial-possession problems like last time.

  Right, and you said something about giving the peckerwood a break?

  Yes.  Sell them on a limited war, from right after we launch.  Try to convince him that if he doesn’t force our hand, we’re only going after his WMD, not the regime.  It’s a strong card, hard for him to raise against if he sees it as a death sentence.  Of course, we’ll be decimating his conventional capability as much as we can at the same time, but we don’t need to address that; he’ll figure it out soon enough.  But if we put the limited thing out there in front of the world, he’ll know that his restraint, to not use any kind of WMD or invade the South, is a guarantee of his survival.  He’ll know that we’ll draw the world opinion dead on our heads—like another Iraq— give China and Russia more justification to intervene if we go beyond the offensive-capability objective while he plays clean and restrained.  He’ll be assured of drinking his Tennessee booze until he dies an old age, if he keeps it cool.

  Otherwise?  Don’t tell me.  It’s the Alamo all over again, right?  And we’re Santa Clause, crushing a pesky, ragtail band of fighters out of existance.  Take no prisoners, then we don’t have to worry about how we try ‘em and torture ’em.   Cleaner all the way around.  I know Dick would throw-in on that!

  We can kill a lot of troops quickly if he invades, no matter what he uses, and then we can go after him, too, and attack his WMD however we want, the degree of collateral damage being the only consideration.  The good thing about an invasion, if he does, is that he can’t use a crude nuc, if he has any to call on—any WMD—where his own troops are, if we don’t make it too tempting; so, after the Air Force and Navy has unloaded on them, we don’t have to worry much about a staged moving-up of the copters, tanks, and troops to meet what’s left, especially with all the support they’ll have.

  What about the WMD facilities?  We don’t have bombs that can destroy those underground things, not regular ones, anyway.  Can we use the big bug-spray Raid bomb thing we use in Afghanistan?  How ‘bout this?  We pour our nuc waste down them holes and plug ‘em up with good ol’ American concrete?  We’re still lookin’ fer a way to get rid of all that stuff, aren't we?  Call Halliburton.  They’ll do it for a few $billion—weapons and waste go, taxpayer-sourced dividends flow.  Very Republican.

  Being realistic, we can still do the limited plan if we use tacs only on those deep, hardened facilities.  Like you said, George, no other way to get them, everyone knows it, unless we can isolate them, use air power to keep troops and reinforcements out, buffer the area while company- and brigade-strength units go into each one to search and destroy and get out.  But we can’t easily get units in and out to do that until we control the air, so maybe instead of using stealths to hit AD first, they should hit air bases—cripple their manned air defense right off.  Maybe F-117s against the AD and any tac targets and B2s against the fields—more bombs.  Subsequent sorties against AD.  Send Navy missles against the SAM sites at first.  Too bad we don't have enough stealths to hit both at the same time along with C‘nC, but can't afford ‘em and keep the big-pocket money too.  But for some hardened sites that may have a nuc, away from populations, certainly if we know of any that do, a tac is the answer.  Then, when we can, we send in SAD forces.


  Sassoon and Dior!  Sassoon and Dior!  And AD has to be Armini and DiGregorio!  Right?

  Search and Destroy, GW.  Search and Destroy.  By “AD” I mean Air Defense, meaning radars and missile sites.

  I knew that.

  I thought you did.

  Then “C‘nC” isn’t Coco Chanel or Chanel and Cardin?

   Geezz.  COMMAND and CONTROL!    or Commander and Chief.

  Geezz.  “in” Chief, not “and.”

  Yeah yeah, but I like it.  Sounds like more.  Uh, hey... can we get them when they’re all parading and goose-steppin’ around like a swarm of ants on steroids?

  We could, but that’s in cities and would go against the “limited” front that’s to our advantage to start out with, George.

  Oh, yeah.  It would, wouldn’t it?  They look like they have springs or flubber embedded in the soles of their boots, don’t they?  Bop bop bop bop. Like those funny prancing horses the Mexicans or Colombians have.  Does that short, little, fat guy of theirs wear lifts?

  Then, Search and Mutilate is “SAM??”  ...Search and Mangle?

  Surface-to-Air Missile...

  And “GAM” is Ground-to-Air Missile, or a really great leg, heh heh.  Yers’re a little skinny.  Hmm.  You were never a page, were ya?


  Naw, you weren’t.  Come on, I’m safe... Hey, if you knew yer acronyms it wouldn’t ‘ve come up at all!!


  Err, look, no offense.  I’m sorry, okay?  Hey!  How’d they ever get GAM out of that, anyway?  Hmmm, let’s see... Georgeous Appendage for Man?  Or is it for “a” Man?


  Look, call me “Mr. President” or “sir” while we’re talking war, will ya’ll?  Gives me confidence.

  Whatever you say...sir.

  Okay, then.  We’ll just have to get ‘em in the woods, or the hills.  They don’t really have woods, do they?  Ronnie would’ve known.  MASH had some woods, but that was filmed in California.  I don’t remember seein’ any in those real war movies, though.  Just a bunch of scrub brush, like Texas.  So whadda I hav’ta do?

  But, on the other hand, Mr. Prez, if we can...



  Mr. President.  Not Mr. Prez.  Makes me sound like Tex-Mex or sumpthin’—more of ‘em than us down there, not that it’s a bad thing.  They know how to vote like we tell ‘em and don’t cost us much, just the taxpayin’ folks, if ya know what I mean.  Rabbits in the bank... that vote.

  Sorry.  Didn’t think of that.  I was just thinking out loud—abbreviating.  Do I have to address you formally when I’m talkin’ to myself?

  You’d better, ‘cause I can’t tell the difference, most times.

  Mr. President.  I was thinkin’... sayin’, if we can hold back with the tacs, we can maybe use them to keep China from intervening.

  How’s that, Rummy?

  With all due respect, sir, I have feelings of self-importance that need to be fed, too... And, Condi, from now on, you’d better address me as “Mr. Secretary” or “sir.”

  Well, then, YOU better call me nuthin’ less than “Madam Secretary” from this minute on!

  Can’t we all get along?  Don, you were saying tacs could pen-in the Chinese if we don’t use ‘em?

  Yes, sir, and even if they do intervene, militarily, we’ll still have to keep the priority on the fat chink’s WMD, but things will get much more complicated.

  Or you can address me as “Secretary Rice!”

  Mr. President, if we don’t use the tacs, starting out, we can tell China that if they intervene they’ll force us against the wall, and then we’ll have to use tacs against the short guy’s WMD sites.  Then it’ll all be their fault.

  He’s blind, too, isn’t he, Don?  Calling you “Don”’s okay, isn’t it?

  Yes, sir.  That is your prerogative.

  Short, fat, and blind.  Like a bat that’s been suckin’ a cow’s ear all night.

  He wears big glasses, sir.

  And drunk too?

  Has to be, sometimes.

  Really small pecker, I’ll bet.  Whadda’ya think?

  Has to be, sometimes.

  Or... maybe... like my horse.


  ... or like Tony.  Ya’ll see how long his fingers are?  Tall ‘n skinny, too... big feet.

  Okay!  But, bottom line, we make it China’s fault.  Texas draw!  I like it.  Whadda I hav’ta do?

  For starters, Geo, uh... sir, we’ll need you to authorize some deployments and funding to acquire a lot more inventory, unwrap planes at Davis, call up reserves, start a comprehensive subliminal campaign on the draft, and a lot of coordination with State to quickly and clearly get the “limited” word out when the time’s right.  Damn, they might be sorry they didn’t let us screw the taxpayers with that Air Force tanker deal before this is over.

  Yea, well, brand’s already on the hide.  Okay.  Who’s got a pen?

  Sir, we won’t be able to hide the buildups.  We’ll have to have Snow ready to snow them on some plausible story-line on why we’re building up, and to say that we won’t be attacking unless this, that, or the other, but that we have to be ready for any contingency, that no one should jump to any conclusions, etcetera.

  Okay, where do I put my mark.

  And, sir, Condi’s maybe got to try and work some back-door deals with China and the South.

  I told you to call me “Madame Secretary” or “Secretary Rice,” sucka!

  I wasn’t addressing you.

  He wasn’t addressing you.  He’s right on that.

  Mr. President, we need to let the South know we may have to give a good part of the North to China if we have to go all the way, but if we do, they’ll get the rest, and we need to try to get China to start thinking greedier.  Maybe we can work the Google reverse-type thing and have CIA give them a list of agitators and a peck of spies if they play along.  And, don’t forget, pretty soon now, we won’t be able to completely ignore the Domeheads anymore, either.  Need to keep it quiet and let ‘em in on it, on an absolute need-to-know, and give ‘em as little as possible, as late as possible.  Mushroom ‘em, heh heh, no pun.  If we don’t play it right, they might pull the rug out from under us.  Like Iraq, Mr. President, once we’re committed, they’ll think they are too.

  A bushel and a peck and a rope around yer neck.  Yep, it sure sounds like you’ve got it all corralled up.  I’ll have to put out one of them-there signin’ statements that lets us ignore anything the Domers send up I put my mark to that doesn’t have a majority vote from our side.  And you heard him, sweetheart.  Can we do this before Tony’s on the out?  That Kim guy really needs a nice suit, ya know?  I can call you “sweetheart,” can’t I?

  Maybe not when Barbara’s around, sir.  But that’s your prerogative.  I serve for the pleasure of the President, as long as it’s not in an IM or e-mail.

  “At” the pleasure, not “for,” hoe.  It is my line.

  You just shut your bad-ass mouth, white boy!

  He was addressing you.  He’s right on that.


  Whaa?... Hmm.  Uh, I need a new purse, Mr. President, a bigger one, so I’ll go do some stress-relief shopping to get a little benefits-of-peace package put together for that Korean pig, if that’s okay... sir.  Don’t know why you want to waste good shopping time on him, though.

  That’s a good girl, Condi.  You know the old sayin’ ‘bout stranglin’ ‘em with sugar before buryin’ ‘em in dung.  Have fun, and first talk to Tony about a suit.  Maybe send him a pair of contacts, too.  Poor dear, or is it “sweet?”  I ferget.

  Send Tony contacts?

  No, the short, fat, blind, sweet, dear guy...whatever.  Don, get defense to set up an acronym for that.  Does intel have his script?


  Be sure to include a bottle of that tainted ReNu, ya know, that Baush & Lomb stuff they recalled that makes your corneas fall off?  I have a bottle somewhere I was saving for something good like this that might come up.  On the suit, do we have fatty’s measurements?


  Doesn’t matter.  Those Savile Row tailors can cut by just looking at a picture of him.  He needs a hair stylist, too.  Looks like he puts a bowl on his head and does it himself.  Self-image must be real distorted—in denial, causin’ all our problems.  Make sure intel has that in his profile.


  Condi, get a full-body shot of him from Martha.  He got that apron-type thing he wears from her catalog, didn’t he?  ‘n maybe she can throw in some diet recipes, too.  And remember, both of you, whoever you’re with, except maybe the Pope, blame everything bad on Clinton and our religious-conservative wacks.  Spread the word.  Make ‘em believe it, like with the medicare thing.  Tell the Dome folks that we’re tryin’ to work around the pray-n-poop people, polite as possible.  And say they should be patient.  New pastures here, and all.  Same dung, just new pastures.

  Sir, maybe we should have Karl handle the Domeheads on this, too?

  Naw.  He’s got his horse and lasso strained just tryin’ to keep the herd together until after the elecktshun.  After that, the less he knows the better.  Might need to make him a fall guy for sumthin’ before all’s said ‘n done.  Never know what’s goin’ to pop up ‘round here next anymore, like injuns in the old days.

  I’m going to go, sir... dinner date after shopping.  Want me to get you anything?  Maybe another impressive book to carry around?  Maybe, something to counter what you’ve said lately?  Maybe Voltaire?

  Good idea, if that’s good.  Always been interested in lightening anyway.  But get me Dick.  Haven’t seen him.  Is he in hiding this week?  There was that football thing, ya know.  Should we bring him out?  I have to tell ya, this is gettin’ to be pretty complicated stuff.  We better have a meetin’, so tell the council, the brass, the intel guys; and Condi, wherever Dick is, tell him to show.  But he intimidates me, so maybe put him at the other end of the table for this one, and make sure he knows how to address me in this time of crisis; it’ll relax me.  We gotta get all our ducks in a row.  Oh, and you’d better memo Secret Service to be sure he leaves his shotgun home.

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