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Bartholomew and the Oobleck
, for the uninitiated, is about a king who gets bored with the weather and commands his creepy magicians to make something new
come down from the sky. As I read the first part of this story to my kids tonight, my son Sam (6) interrupted me to ask "Is that really a good idea
was published in 1949, a time when it seemed that the kings of the world did indeed seem to be bored with the weather of the world and, aided by creepy magicians like Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller, deemed it necessary, for reasons having to do with hubris and pride, to have something new fall from the sky.
The narrative tension of Oobleck
is palpable as Bartholomew, the lowly page boy, tries first warn the king against his foolish whim, then waits with nameless dread for the coming apocalypse, then desperately races to warn the kingdom of the king's disastrous mistake.
It's hard to read this story without feeling a lot like Bartholomew. We all knew our current king's folly was a bad idea, everyone tried to tell him so, but kings will be kings and so the creepy magicians (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Halliburton, the Carlyle group, PNAC, etc etc etc) created an apocalypse for the boy tyrant.
(With plenty of little army men for him to throw around the floor of his throne room while he made exploding noises, but don't let me mix my metaphors.)
The effects of oobleck, it turns out, can be reversed with a simple act of humility on the part of the king. Our boy king, of course, we have learned is incapable of an act of humility, and even if he were, this particular oobleck is, alas, here to stay. Our boy king's plan, his stated plan
, is to keep the war in Iraq going long enough to become someone else's problem, and, theoretically, never end at all.
(A canny commentator remarked recently that Bush is not, and never was, interested in being president. What he was interested in was winning the election
. We've seen, indeed, over and over, that Bush's main objective has always been to win
, no matter what he has to do, what laws he has to break or who he has to kill to do so. We've also seen that he does, in fact, have no interest in leading, making decisions or doing anything remotely presidential, like treating other leaders, or anyone really, even his own mindless supporters, with anything like dignity or respect.)