Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Best of Times

Asked by a German magazine what he considered his "most wonderful moment" as President, Bush said, "the best moment was when I caught a seven-and-a-half pound large mouth bass on my lake." The President could have touted one of his great achievements in domestic or foreign policy, from the prescription drug benefit to the War in Iraq. But one of the things Americans love about the President is that he is just like us. I doubt one of us would say something we did at work was our most wonderful moment. We would probably mention a vacation or time we spent with our families. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia realized this, too, when he said his proudest moment was not recusing himself from a case in which the Vice President was a litigant after going on a hunting trip with the him. That hunting trip meant more to him than some silly case. This is an administration that plays as hard as it works--sometimes harder--and realizes the importance of leisure activities. So I wondered what other members of the Bush Administration might say their favorite moments while serving in office were and it turns out they all believe that their best times were when they were relaxing and having fun. Here are their most wonderful moments:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld--Sailing. His best moment in office was the time he went sailing on his summer vacation. Unfortunately, he didn't take enough crewmembers to man the boat and the boat just kept going around and around in circles. Then an unexpected storm hit--well, not quite unexpected, he was on vacation and didn't want to read more bad news from Iraq so he missed the weather report in the paper--and things got a bit dicey for a while. Finally, the Coast Guard came and rescued them, although it took a while to get Rumsfeld off the boat because he refused to leave. It was a thrilling day, though, and a great time was had by all.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell--Antiquing. A lot of people don't know that Powell loves antiquing. One weekend Rumsfeld and Cheney accompanied him on a trip to an antique shop in the Washington area to take a look at some antiques. What he didn't know was that they had arranged a little practical joke with the owner of the shop. The owner pointed out a priceless vase and when Powell picked it up, it slipped out of his hands and shattered into thousands of pieces. The owner of the shop pretended to get very angry and told him he had to pay for the priceless vase. "You broke it! You own it!" he shouted. What Powell didn't know was that Rumsfeld and Cheney had made arrangements with the owner to plant a fake vase in the store, which they slicked up with oil so it would slip through his fingers. When Powell realized he had been punked, they all had a big laugh.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice--Private Concert with Van Cliburn. One year for Condoleeza Rice's birthday the President arranged for fellow Texan Van Cliburn to come to the White House and play the piano in her honor since she is an accomplished pianist and music lover. After a wonderful performance of Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto, which she enjoyed immensely, Cliburn asked her to play and though it took some convincing, she finally agreed. Although she is very knowledgeable of Russian composers, Van Cliburn handed her some music, which he told her was by an unknown Iraqi composer, and asked her to play it. In fact, it was a piece of music he had deliberately written so that it would be impossible to play. Rice did her best as Van Cliburn shook his head and grimaced at every wrong note. Finally, he stood up and shouted, "That's terrible. You've made thousands of mistakes!" Then he started laughing and let the shocked Secretary of State in on the joke. It turns out Rummy put him up to it.

Former CIA Director Porter Goss--Poker Night. Goss loved playing poker with the boys. But one night when he was playing with some of his friends at the Watergate hotel, he had a revelation. In the middle of a hand he threw his cards down on the table, stood up and said, "I'm quitting the game. I need to spend some more time with my family." And he went right home.

Vice President Dick Cheney--Hunting Trip. We all know the Vice President loves hunting but I think many people would be surprised about one hunting trip that he looks back on with great fondness. It was quail hunting season and after a big barbecue, where Cheney had only a sip of wine, he and some of his closest friends went out on a little hunting excursion. It turns out, however, that they had left the ammunition at home. Nobody shot anything that day and the Vice President just enjoyed the great outdoors in the company of his buddies, who all made it through the day without injury. It may seem funny, but it was just a perfect, pleasant day he'll always remember.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff--Dinner Party. When Chertoff first arrived in Washington he decided to have a dinner party for the Washington elite. But everything seemed to go wrong. The interior decorator had not finished the house by the day of the dinner party, the Cuban band they had arranged to play couldn't get visas and then that afternoon the caterer cancelled. Mrs. Chertoff was beside herself. "This is a disaster!" she said and started to cry. "Oh it'll be all right, Mrs. Dalloway," Chertoff joked. Immediately, he sprang into action. He called the Pentagon and arranged for some national guard troops to erect a large mobile army unit tent on his lawn and he borrowed the U.S. Marine Corps Band to entertain the guests. Then he ordered some buckets of chicken and some cakes from a local bakery. The Washington elite had never seen anything quite like it and they were all charmed, even though the chicken ran out and some people had to eat cake. But everyone agreed the party was a big success.

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benmerc said...

The man has his "proities" (That is priorities in the Queen's english)
Now quit circlin' the wagons and go pick on someone your own size...

benmerc said...

Nice follow ups, won't ruin the moment with my snarky nothings...but I will say I like Rummy in the circle the drain mode, it suits him well.

Patricia said...

Condi's scored herself some nice shoes. That's gotta count for something on the "great moments" scale.

Anonymous said...

Nice piece Jon...So...What is your Hobby? You stike me as someone who enjoys getting their hands dirty.
I say it's gardening. Am I right?

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