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The Walrus Was George: Riding the Magical Mystery Tour '06
Published on Monday, March 27, 2006 by
The Walrus Was George: Riding the Magical Mystery Tour '06
by Steven Laffoley

"Roll up," says the president to the American people, "roll up for the Mystery Tour. Step right this way."

That's right - the Mystery Tour. After three years of war, and of weirdness piled on weirdness, it has come to this: George W. Bush is now the fifth Beatle, singing strangely familiar tunes, inviting us all to ride his Magical Mystery Tour.

"We got everything you need," he promises doubters of the faith, "satisfaction guaranteed."

The president is on tour because his poll numbers are down, for his presidency and for his dirty war in Iraq. After years of shock and awe terror, of Abu Ghraib torture, and of civil war undeclared, Americans are finally uncertain that 100,000 Iraqis dead are guaranteed satisfaction for September 11. They feel strangely empty on their three-year crash diet of dread, dismemberment, and death. And they are beginning to wonder about something altogether rare in America these days: they are wondering about the truth.

But this wondering gives the president the cold sweats. As Groucho Marx once noted in Duck Soup, we can't stop the war now because we've put a down payment on the battlefield. And besides, there are promises to be kept - promises to the angry Project for the New American Century Neo-Cons, and promises to the angry Energy Cabal, and promises to the angry Apocalyptic Religious Right.

So the president goes out on tour - a Magical Mystery Tour - to reignite the flames of national lunacy and to sing his seductive tunes of jabberwocky, madness, and mayhem.

Sure, he knows that some Americans are singing a different tune these days: "All I want is the truth. Just gimme some truth." But he also knows, in this outrageous Age of Unreason, that too much truth is just a downer, man. A bummer. A bad trip.

And who wants a bad trip?

So the president hands out sugar cubes in the park and sings his Magical Mystery Tour songs like a psychedelic pied piper in pinstripes, dancing along the edge of the apocalypse, inviting all mice to follow him into the darkness.

Watch him on television, at stops all across the nation. He takes the stage to thunderous applause, smirking his familiar smirk, singing his tunes of unity: "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." And the party faithful cheer.

He then wags his index finger at those in the desert who "threaten us" and who "hate our freedoms." Of them, he sings, "See how they run, like pigs from a gun, see how they fly." And again, the party faithful cheer - but not at the madness. No, they know it is madness. They cheer because they love the rhythm of the lie, love its dark, seductive beauty. They know, after all, that madness needs no reason for being. It just needs rhyme. And this president knows how to rhyme.

Even back in Washington, when the president brings his Magical Mystery Tour to a White House press conference, the rhyme of his of lies carries the day. He knows, like the vice president said, that dropping poll numbers are the media's fault, a result of their negative coverage, a result of their failure to report progress in Iraq: to report on the multicolored candy the troops give out each day to Iraqi children.

So he chastises them into cowardice. "Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog's eye," he snaps in his New Haven/Midlands drawl, "Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down."

And the assembled press members mumble and cower - save for one.

Old Helen, who never asks much these days, bravely speaks up and asks her question, the only question that matters: "Why did you want this war, Mr. President?" The room goes silent, while the president just smirks and waves off the question. "Expert textpert, choking smokers," he sings, "Don't you think the joker laughs at you?" Old Helen is left speechless, while the other press members laugh their nervous laughs, wondering what the hell the president means.

"I'm crying," thinks Old Helen.

"We're crying," think truth-seeking Americans.

Of course, the president assures Old Helen, the assembled press, and all the American people that they share a common cause in this national madness. "After all," he says emphatically, "I am the eggman; they are the eggman."

But then the president thinks again. He is the leader of this Magical Mystery Tour, after all. So he clears his throat and sings in triumph, "I am the Walrus, goo goo g'joob!" And the press members dutifully scribble in their notebooks: ".the Walrus, goo goo g'joob?"

"I am the Walrus," Beatle John once sang. And later, when Beatle Paul was supposedly dead - and the word 'Walrus' was supposedly Greek for 'Corpse' - John cryptically sang, "The Walrus was Paul." But in this decaying Age of Unreason, perhaps the truth is stranger still. Perhaps, on this Magical Mystery Tour - where corpses pile high in the cool desert night - the Walrus is George.

And Walrus George sings: "The Magical Mystery Tour is dying to take you away, dying to take you away, take you today."

Steven Laffoley is an American writer living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is the author of "Mr. Bush, Angus and Me: Notes of an American Canadian in the Age of Unreason."


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