Tag Archives: George W Bush

Unknown at this address

Ever since I first went into the tiny computer room at my college back in the day, I’ve been a relentless email devotee. Sure, most of it’s spam offering to help me ‘make her sigh’ or trying to give me approximately $8 million dollars from a mysterious account in Ghana, but such fripperies don’t put me off. Like the schoolkid waiting eagerly for the postmail to arrive in hopeful anticipation of an unexpected package, I metaphorically sit under my virtual lettermailbox waiting for an electronic treat to plop onto the mat of my inbox.

Email has played a central role in my life over the last fifteen years or so. I’ve been offered jobs, resumed friendships, found out about births and deaths, and even helped stave off the pangs of being separated by an ocean from The Special One. Without email, it’s doubtful I’d even be living in New York today.

And of course, email has revolutionised the way I work – indeed, the way in which the vast majority of us work. It’s enabled quick decisions to be taken, measured responses to be made, and helped communication become much more effective. Sure, it’s made the fax machine as useful as the whistle and light on a airplane lifejacket, but email has clearly marked a step forward in the way that businesses operate. Certainly, no Chief Executive could manage without it in this day and age.

Unless you’re the Chief Executive of United States of America Inc, that is.

Because of both freedom of information issues and fears of hacking, the president of the United States doesn’t traditionally use email, it would seem. In 2000, George W Bush bade an emotional email farewell to his 42 friends via his AOL account after realising he would no longer be able to send his regular ‘Friday funny’ out (the quality of his jokes may actually explain why he only had 42 friends). And now self-confessed Blackberry addict Barack Obama, who famously used email and the internet to rally his supporters to victory, may be forced to cease ROFLing at some picture sent by Rahm Emanuel and cancel his own email account too. He’ll still be able to get a faxed copy of Colin Powell’s a**ea** as taken on the photocopier after the Oval Office Christmasholiday party, so all is obviously not lost.

Now, some might say the lack of email would explain a few things about the George W Bush administration over the last eight years. And I have no doubt that the president has plenty of minions to do his emailing for him. But how can you appoint someone to the most important ‘business’ role in America (possibly the world), and tell them that they can’t use the most rudimentary technology to get their job done?

And don’t talk to me about the difficulty of reconciling national security with the democratic right to read written presidential communications. I’m not allowed to be on the line when Obama calls Nicolas Sarkozy (or even when he calls for pizza) so why should I be allowed at some point to see his emails? And as for hacking…it really cannot be beyond the ability of man to come up with a safe system for the president to email without a 14 year old from Scranton breaking in and sending Angela Merkel an email saying ‘You is like wel fit. Lol!!!!!!!’

Having run on a platform for change, I hope Barack Obama sees sense and insists on becoming the first emailing president of the United States. It’s in the interest of the country, and it’s in the interest of common sense defeating anachronistic principle.

Can we get a supply of presidential Viagra? Yes we can.

Out with the old, in with the new. Eventually.

I haven’t passed comment on the election since the historic events of November 4. After all, I don’t even have the vote, let alone an inside track on the political machinations that led to the Democrats winning Virginia, so sometimes it’s just best to keep quiet. All I can say is that I stayed up on a sofa in Brixton until 5.15am watching events unfold thousands of miles away, and went to bed happy in the knowledge that America had given itself a new start.

But after an interminably long election process that seemed to begin shortly after Bush robbeddemocratically defeated John Kerry in 2004, we’re now faced with two and a half months of sitting around waiting for the dawn to break. It’s like ordering a sofa for a brand new house, then having to sit on the floor for nine weeks while you wait for it to be delivered. Call me old fashioned, but since when were the supply chain problems of Sofa Workshop a good model for the democratic process?

In the meantime, The Squinty Little Man With The Former President For A Dad gets to experience a lame duck session as he goes through his cupboards to find all those weird scrappy bits of legislation he’d forgotten about over the last eight years. Any suggestions that lame ducks should be shot to put them out of their misery is not for this blog, thank you very much.

Of course, if the experience of the Clintons is anything to go by, he’ll have his beady eyes on some souvenirs from the Oval Office as he starts packing up his boxes. Although given that George Bush Jr (as he apparently hates to be called) has spent more time on holidayvacation than any other President in living memory, one of his aides will first probably have to point out where the Oval Office is.

The sadness is that by having this weird interregnum, America is denied one of the great delights of the British political system. Every time a Prime Minister loses an election, or is forced out of office by his own party, they’ve essentially got to get out of 10 Downing Street that day to make room for the new arrival. Nothing brings a politician back down to earth quicker than the arrival of a removals truck with a few hundred boxes to be filled full of tin sculptures (gifts from the Mongolian government) and framed pictures of the family standing with Bono and Richard Curtis.

Rumours that Gordon Brown was spotted picking up packing tape and bubble wrap at the weekend could not be confirmed at time of going to press.

I’d like to apologise unreservedly

It’s wryly amusing seeing that the Evening Standard has been forced to apologise to Prince Philip for wrongly claiming that he was fighting prostate cancer. Not because of the nature of the illness that the Queen’s husband absolutely and categorically does not have, but just because it’s rare to hear a story that’s not about Philip himself having to say sorry for something he’s said.

Let’s face it, Philip only ever opens his mouth to insert his foot in it. From asking a Scottish driving instructor how he managed to keep locals off the booze long enough to get them to pass their test, to asking a Cayman Islander whether they were all descended from pirates, Prince Philip is the king of the inappropriate comment. After all, who can forget his 1986 comment on a state trip to China, when he told a group of British students that “if you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty eyed.” Or congratulating a native from Papua New Guinea on managing to not get eaten?

He’s an embarrassment to his country. Fortunately his country is Greece, but the British are all guilty by association.

The terrible irony, of course, is that the American equivalent of Prince Philip is the president of the entire country. Given that George Bush is in Beijing at the moment for the opening of the 2008 Olympics, here’s hoping the American embassy has got its crisis management team on 24 hour standby.

A little bit of politics

I was accidentally included on an email exchange today between a few intelligent Americans talking about Barack Obama’s recent Berlin speech. The back-and-forth quickly turned into a discussion regarding America’s role in the post-World War II rehabilitation of Europe. The Marshall Plan was, after all, one of a series of important measures that helped rebuild the economies and cities of the battered continent. Sure, there may have been a little bit of self-interest, but nobody’s doubting that America stepped up to the plate when it needed to.

But every so often in any debate about foreign policy, someone will make a comment that forces you to question whether you actually read the email correctly. The kind of statement that makes you wonder why Americans are surprised to find out that some people regard them as pariahs in the international arena.

A statement that in this case reads “if it wasn’t for us, 90% of the world would be speaking Russian.”

The 43rd President of the United States is near-universally derided as the worst occupant of the Oval Office, but you’ve got to imagine that even he would have second thoughts about saying something like this.

By the way, I read that an AOL poll on who should be the next president has John McCain ahead on 64%. Will the last person to leave America please turn the lights out?