Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hello, Tech Support? My Talking Points Don't Work Anymore

Latest Newspaper Column:

The other morning, I was drinking my coffee and reading the news. That was when I saw the story.

I stopped, frozen in shock, my cup halfway to my lips. I put down the coffee cup, picked up the phone, and dialed a number I knew by heart.
After one ring, a recorded voice answered.

"Thank you for calling Republican Technical Support. All of our service representatives are either with other customers or testifying before a grand jury. Please stay on the line."

I waited, sipping my coffee and listening to a bright, perky Muzak version of Toby Keith's "The Angry American." After a long wait, another mechanical voice came on.

"If you'd like to complain about liberal media, Press 1. If you'd like to convey a message to the president about how great he is, press 2. For the latest Republican buzzword or talking point, press 3. For all other matters, please press 4. If you're experiencing a hurricane or other natural disaster, please call back later."

I thought a moment, then pressed 4. There was another long wait.

"Republican Technical Support," a man finally said. "What is the nature of your problem?"

"Have you seen them?" I demanded. "Have you seen them?!"

"Seen what, sir?"

"Those news stories! About this report from the Senate Intelligence Committee!"

"Oh. Those news stories. What about them?"

"What do you mean what about them? The Senate Intelligence Committee has said there was never any connection between that al-Qaida guy Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war! It even says Saddam didn't trust Islamic extremists and wanted them locked up!"

"Is that a problem?"

"Is that a problem? Isn't the fact that Hussein was harboring al-Qaida fugitives and was going to give them WMDs one of the reasons we invaded Iraq? Actually, isn't it one of the few remaining justifications we have left?"

"I don't know, let me check."

The next words were muffled, as if the guy on the other end had his hand over the receiver.

"Hey, Sanjay! What was the reason they invaded Iraq again? No, that was three months ago. Look at the updated manual."

I could hear an even more muffled reply.

"Yup, that's the reason," the cheerful rep said when he came back. "Zarqawi and Saddam, buddies for life."

"But now that's... hey, wait a minute. Who's Sanjay?"

"My supervisor."

"Where are you guys, anyway?"

"Bangalore... uh, I mean, Omaha. Yeah, that's it. Omaha. You know, Iowa."

"Omaha's in Nebraska."

"Yeah. Nebraska. That's what I meant."

"Oh. My. God. The Republicans outsourced their tech support to India?"

"No, no, we're in Nebraska. I swear it. Whoopie tie-yie-yay. Whee doggies."

"You're not... never mind. What am I supposed to do here? I'm new at this Republican business. I've been with the Party only a few months. I need your help. The justifications for the Iraq war are broken. How do I fix them?"

"Hang on, let me look it up."

There was a rustling of papers.

"OK, you could say what the White House press secretary said."

"Which was?"

"This is old news. Move along. Nothing to see here."

"Does that work?"

"I don't see how," he admitted. "Wait, have you tried doing what the vice president did? When he was on 'Meet The Press' after the report came out, he just kept saying there was a relationship between Zarquawi and Saddam. When Tim Russert brought the report up, Cheney just blew it off and said he hadn't read it."

"He hadn't read it? He actually said that?"

"Pretty slick, huh?"

"If slick is the word in your native language for stupid, then yeah."

"Wait, here's another one. Condoleezza Rice, on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'There were ties between Iraq and al-Qaida.' Looks like the official fix for your problem is just to pretend the report never happened."

"You mean I'm supposed to just ignore this report that says that, rather than being a supporter of al-Qaida, Saddam Hussein, and this is a quote: 'was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime'? You want me to ignore the fact that the report states that Saddam wanted to lock Zarqawi up, not give him a nuclear weapon? You want me to just keep saying the same old things, even though those have been discredited?"

"That's the ticket."

"So the 'fix' you propose is just to totally ignore reality?"

"Actually, the official technical term for that is 'staying the course.'"

I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose. I was beginning to get a headache. "I'm not sure I can do that."

His voice turned suspicious. "Are you sure you're a Republican?"

"I'm trying," I said. "I really am."

"Well, there's the old standby. You can accuse the committee of partisanship and politicizing the war in an election year. Then, maybe throw in some wisecrack about Alec Baldwin or Michael Moore."

"The partisanship thing won't work," I said morosely. "It's a Republican-controlled committee in a Republican-controlled Senate."

"Wait, I thought they fixed that."

"Not yet," I said. "Not yet."


Rae said...

I laughed and laughed until I realized it was true....great column, though....

Janice said...

So true and really not amusing. Yet if we stop laughing we might go insane as Shrub's in office 2 more years.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

That was pure brilliance (and I say that as a former Republican).

Deni Dietz said...

I know this was in The Pilot, but it should be on the front page of every newspaper in the country. Wit is a great weapon.