Notes: George W. Bush has said he disliked the 1960s. No wonder. The guy is stuck in the 1950s. If he wants to be "The Fonz," fine. The problem is he's trying to take the whole nation back to that period with him.

This past week the Bush team tried to take us back to the Atomic 1950s, duck-and-cover drills and bomb shelters. They raised the threat level to orange and urged us to stock up on three days of food, buy duct tape and sheets of plastic. Reminiscent of bomb shelters, we were supposed to prepare a safe room. All of this was set against the then upcoming report of Hans Blix about Iraq to the United Nations and an appearance by Osama bin Laden via tape. Some of the nation panicked. Moreover, the Bushies let Attorney General John Ashcroft back on television after lowering his public profile -- a scary proposition in itself. He comes on, and I wonder what freedoms I'm losing at the moment.

By week's end the Bush team had lost at the U.N. and was having to try to calm fears. Don't prepare a safe room after all. It turned out the safe room wasn't very effective. If you really had it sealed, you would only have enough oxygen for a few hours. Besides it wouldn't help with a dirty bomb and you wouldn't want to be in the highest room in the house after all.

Bush recites cute 1950s anachronisms like Laura's sweeping the porch because company's coming (apparently to her chagrin). In a shades-of-the-1950s way, the Bush team treats Americans like they're un-American if they disagree with Bushisms. Uncle Rumsfeld is moving from being simply outspoken to the grouchy uncle at the 1950s family reunion who makes people wince and role their eyes by his lack of tact.

The president is taking on the tone of a smarmy1950s television preacher. He looks at the camera, smiles and treats us to homilies. His voice is ultra-sincere in an intimate raspy whisper. Put your hands on the TV screen and be healed.
02.16.03