Four years ago today, our mission in Iraq was accomplished. Remember? Big aircraft carrier? Big Karl Rove banner? Bush modeling a genuine flight suit? Sure you do.
I remember too, and watching the president preen for the cameras that day made me think of Lyndon Johnson’s penis. Here’s why:
Years ago, during a previous idiot war, a retired Secret Service agent who had been on President Johnson’s detail told me a depressing story.
The president, it seems, enjoyed all-day fishing with his friends on Johnson Lake outside Johnson City. Since the boat was too small to have facilities, Johnson would go up to the bow now and then to drain off some of the Scotch he had accumulated.
According to the agent it was the president’s custom on re-sheathing his weapon to turn back to his fishing companions and say,“Well, boys, it ain’t too cold, but it sure is deep.”
It was the friends’ custom, of course, to laugh heartily no matter how many times they had heard the joke. There was an element of truth to it, too. Everybody knew that when it came to Johnsons, Johnson’s was heroic. And if they didn’t know, the president wasn’t shy about telling them.
A year or two later, newly arrived in wartime Laos, I was taken to a psychedelic bar called The Third Eye by Don Schanche, a former editor of the Saturday Evening Post.
At some point I told him the Secret Service agent’s story, tossing in at no extra charge my diagnosis of grown men who boasted of their personal dimensions, and explaining the effect that could be expected if such an insecure and pathetic specimen were to wind up, God forbid, as a president.
“Yeah, except that Johnson didn’t have a particularly big one,” Don said.
(I should hasten to say that President Johnson had invited Don to join him in the small pool that used to be in the West Wing basement. The custom, since Franklin Roosevelt had had the pool installed, was to bathe nude.)
“I didn’t want to stare,” Don went on, “but my impression was that he was a little smaller than normal, if anything.”
So when I saw George W. Bush thrusting his package, tastefully set off by tightly-cinched leg straps, into the camera lens for our viewing pleasure — Well, sir, talk about your déjàs and your vus!
Could the president possibly have stuffed a sock in his jock, the way a certain no doubt love-starved female on Saturday Night Live was soon to hint? Surely not.
There must instead be something about the rigging of a flight suit that just naturally accentuated the positive. Perhaps a built-in tin cup mandated by regulations? I posted the question, and a retired Air Force pilot answered:
“You learn in flight school to cinch those straps tight while you’re seated in the cockpit in the event that you have to eject or bail out. But every kid learns, quickly, not to get out of the aircraft without unbuckling those leg straps. You don’t stand up with those straps tight; it pinches your nuts. Bush would have been very familiar with that. Hope this clarifies matters.”
Sadly, it does.