40 Chessboards and a Mule

Tony Snow gazes admiringly at his new boss

Apparently, at the White House, the apple does not rot far from the tree when it comes to denying or distorting reality, most especially during election season. White House Press Secretary (and former Fox News shill) Tony Snow—who, less than a year ago, asserted that “George Bush has become something of an embarrassment� and, in 2000, criticized his future boss for “barking out absurd and inappropriate words, like a soul tortured with Tourette’s�—offered up a preposterous comment at a Republican rally in Illinois yesterday. Snow said of the President that “he reminds me of one of those guys at the gym who plays about 40 chessboards at once.�

Wow. I hardly know where to begin, except to say that Tony Snow must use the same hallucinogens as Paris Hilton, who a few months back proclaimed: “There’s nobody in the world like me. I think every decade has an iconic blonde—like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana—and right now, I’m that icon.� Has Snow even been paying attention? Likening the mulish and befuddled Commander-in-chief to a chess grandmaster is akin to calling Velveeta a world-class cheese or Weekend at Bernie’s 2 a work of cinematic genius. Not only am I incredulous that Snow would make such a ludicrous comment but that he could do so with nary a guffaw or titter. I wonder how many of the Republicans who forked over $175 to hear the Press Secretary dole out such gems wound up doubled over in laughter with Chardonnay spurting out their noses.

Let’s be real. Even the most casual of presidential observers (on either side of the aisle) would likely say that Bush does not come across as a chess aficionado. Given his domestic and foreign policies, one might make a case that he’s a player of Monopoly or Risk. But even those games might be a bit of a challenge for Incurious George. If I had to guess, I’d say that Candyland or Chutes and Ladders are more the President’s speed. Or the card game, War.

Or, given Bush’s roots, Texas Hold ’em. Now, there’s a game for you. The stakes are high, aggressive play is rewarded, and it all culminates in an exciting showdown. Oftentimes, a good bluff will lead to victory. Thus, even with a mediocre hand, one can come out on top—which perhaps explains the electoral results of 2000 and 2004. (Cheating also explains those results.) Come to think of it, perhaps Snow’s “40 chessboards� remark was nothing more than the bluff of a man who knows he’s holding a lousy hand. Now, that makes sense.