Remember, way back in December 2000, after the U.S. Supreme Court finally stole, er, ruled that George W. Bush would become the next President of the United States?
One of the primary themes to emerge -- from the ornate hotel lobbies of Washington, from the mouths of AM talk radio hosts, from the new regime's sneering acolytes in cowboy hats and fur-trimmed coats -- was that at last, finally, grown-ups would be running Washington, D.C. No more semen-stained dresses. No more fags in uniform and half-assed missile attacks. No more her. No more children running the world.
At least with Clinton you knew that the most powerful man in the world had reached adolescence, if not much beyond it. But all current evidence suggests that the world is now being run by 7-year-olds.
Oh, to be sure, petulant little children are announcing themselves all around the world these days, from surly little bullies like Ahmad Chalabi (who, after spending years on various playgrounds stealing other kids' lunch money, have come home to be handed a shiny new bicycle called Iraq), to the angry little brat in North Korea trying to get his parent's attention ("I've got uranium now!" "Now I've got a missile!" "Now I'm arming it! Watch me! I really am!" "I said I really am! I mean it this time!!"). Kim Jong II needs time out and a nap; Chalabi needs reform school.
But the most alarming spectacle is in Washington itself, where Peter Pan went and recruited his whole grade school class.
The result is calamity almost beyond words to describe: an appetite for cool comic-book foreign policy, emphasis on blowing stuff up, combined with a Never-Never Land insistence on how the world works and economics learned from watching older siblings play Monopoly.
Little kids, you'll recall, can be incredibly cruel. And so it is in D.C. these days, a dramatic step down from the last depressing administration, where the Clinton crew (including, no doubt, Janet Reno) had at least discovered girls. This collection hasn't even matured enough yet to learn right from wrong, or that actions have consequences, or even to experience the essential step in human development of understanding that the world doesn't start and stop with them, that other people think and act and feel just like they do. Empathy. Instead, this bunch stays at home, watches TV, and plays army all day. It's a nice day; they should at least go outside and play. Clinton needed to be grounded. Junior needs to have his toys taken away.
You want proof? What was Junior's sole major "accomplishment" before daddy's friends got him elected governor of Texas? He used daddy's allowance money and bought a baseball team. These are rich children. Too much attention is being paid to "rich," and not enough to "children."
But more and more, the emperor's outgrown clothes are showing, especially in recent days as the little tyke has finally been confronted in public with truths that contradict his carefully constructed play world. First, he really did go outside and play, to Africa, just to get away from it. But reality dogged him there, too, so mostly he's been pouting and insisting that the tooth fairy really does exist, there is a Santa Claus, Saddam really did buy uranium from Niger. ("And all that other stuff I made up last week is true, too!")
Frankly, the pile of toys Junior's no longer interested in is starting to clutter the living room floor, and Junior also keeps tripping over his now-discarded Disney videos, too. (He's not much for reading.) It's not like he's ever learned, or been made, to clean up his own messes. And he still believes all the stories in those old videos, too -- Iraq's mystery weapons in trailers, made out of propane tanks, and the cool spy-movie ties to Al-Qaeda and stuff. He still can't tell fact from fiction.
But confronted with it, he's reacting the way many small, spoiled kids do -- by blaming his friends, starting with the one he doesn't know very well, the guy who already lived in his new neighborhood when he got here, little Georgie Tenet. ("Hey, I only made him fall on a play sword! It didn't really hurt.") Every time Junior does this, he squeezes his eyes real tight and hopes it'll all just go away so he can go play army s'more. (He's also supposed to be doing homework -- he hates math! -- but video games are more fun.)
The other little kids in Junior's clubhouse are acting about the same way -- except for little Rummy, who likes to torture the neighbor's cats when nobody's looking. Rummy's gonna be trouble when he gets older.
For years, the adults around Junior and his little pals have been making excuses for their behavior. All kids are above average. It was a misunderstanding. He didn't mean to break it. He's really not that dumb. He just learns differently. Isn't he cute? The parents are rich, so teachers are circumspect, even when the extra lessons they give don't stick or he makes Family Circus-style mispronouncements.
But the behavior coming out of Washington these days has become too destructive, too aberrant to ignore, as it sometimes does when spoiled kids are never reigned in from their excesses. These kids are very spoiled, and their excesses are scaring all the adults in the neighborhood, if not the world. Frankly, it would be a huge improvement if this batch got old enough to discover girls.
But that's a long way away, and meantime they're really, really wed to their fantasies and their cruelty and their denials. And their moms and dads don't seem to care. Many, many people could die before Junior and his friends get old enough that they start to learn right from wrong.
At this point, the best hope is that they move to another neighborhood.