Ruth: Oh, gross.  Just when I think the neighborhood has already gone straight down the toilet — what with the 7,000 square foot renditions of Tara, the Alamo and English manor houses being squeezed onto small lots, like a plump person cramming himself into skinny jeans — I hear it’s going to get worse.  One by one, the tattered cadre of White House Republicans is slinking back into Austin.  Karen Hughes, most recently.  Also, Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove — wait a minute.  I can’t go on.  The list is too long and hideously depressing.  I may have to start smoking again.

I realize it will sound bitter and all-encompassing, but I can’t help it: These people have participated in an administration that’s tortured, routinely exploited fears of national security for political gain, started an unnecessary war based on faulty and/or manipulated intelligence, bankrupted our children’s future and debased our country’s reputation around the world.

So what on earth are we supposed to say to them when we run into them at Central Market or on the hike-and-bike trail?


Nice weather?

Get the hell out of my way, Turd Blossom?

When I go to other countries, I used to say I was from Texas.  Sure, maybe they thought we were blowhard braggarts — but at least we were colorful and amusing.  No more.  Now we’re blamed for preemptively starting an unjust war and handling it in an unspeakably incompetent, corrupt manner.  The first foreign words I’m now using whenever we travel are apologies in every language.  That, along with a shrunken dollar, will at least buy some sympathy.

It’s humiliating and sad, but you always take your chances when you travel.  Shouldn’t your hometown be more of a haven?

Yak, yak, yak; cry me a river and make sure it’s polluted.  I talk a big, bold line.  I imagine dramatic confrontations and j’accuse moments and heartfelt mea culpas (any other foreign words I can gratuitously throw in?) in the middle of the organic produce section.  But it’s all a total fabrication.  I’m far too Southern, too polite to ever say anything.  Our eyes will meet, directly over the cluster tomatoes, and I may even nod pleasantly, because I believe in a civil world and I can only make a big, dramatic scene once a decade — and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste it on a political hack.

So, it will be quiet and polite and civil, but inside I’ll be seething and smugly thinking, Well, you still have to live with yourself and the damage your Administration has done and the knowledge that you played a role in creating a more dangerous future for the world.

The truth is, I don’t believe in too many things, not even in cluster tomatoes.  But I do have a shopworn faith in karma — that life catches up with us eventually and we’re responsible for what we’ve done.  It isn’t enough, but it will have to do.


I should mention I have an essay in the most recent issue of the Texas Observer about a trip to Dubai: 

(Copyright 2007 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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