Now I get it. George W. Bush had a secret speech writer to help him with yesterday’s address to the U.N. — none other than the infallible, ineffable Dr. Pangloss. The New York Times suggested as much this morning in its lead editorial, describing the address on the surface at least as “a Panglossian report on how well things were going in Iraq.” (Free registration required.)
Anybody mildly familiar with 18th-century French literature knows that after Candide’s tutor Dr. Pangloss is left for dead — having been whipped, hanged and dissected — he still believes in the chief tenet of his philosophy: “Everything in this world happens for the best.” Which is pretty much what Bush wants us to believe. Taking us for Candide stand-ins, he aimed his address “more at a domestic audience than the world community,” as the Times editorial put it, “given how sunny a picture he painted of a situation in which the administration is finding almost nothing as easy as it had hoped.”
In my quick take yesterday on “Shrub’s Folly,” I noted how much time he spent on the subject of sex slavery, a subject we hadn’t much heard about from him before. Here’s why he did it: “By elevating an effort to halt human trafficking to near the top of his agenda … President Bush was trying to put a softer face on American foreign policy and emphasize his stance to a domestic coalition that includes the religious right, his advisers and other said.” (Free registration
It’s commendable of him, don’t you think? Christian organizations and conservative human rights advocates have long focused on the issue, as have liberals and feminists. Maybe with his new-found focus on the international trade in sex slavery, President Bush can bring democracy to Iraq, solve the problems of the Middle East, disarm North Korea, catch Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, find more jobs, turn around the U.S. economy, neutralize his political
opposition at home and win a second term. Failing that, he can always take up “cultivating his garden,” where Dr. Pangloss left off.