Shorter Bush Press Conference:

Question: How can Russia become more democratic?

Bush: Putin should have supported the war in Iraq. Also, the WTO.

Question: What does Rumsfeld have to do to rebuild trust?

Bush: Nothing.

Question: What did you learn from Bernard Kerik’s failed nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security?

Bush: He would have been an awesome Secretary of Homeland Security.

Question: Why are Americans so anxious about your plans in Iraq:

Bush: It’s those Iraqi troops’ fault for running off the battlefield whenever things get tough. Also, the media for some reason seems to think that bombings are more newsworthy than small businesses.

Question: Some people are worried that your social security plan will force millions of Americans to retire into poverty. What’s the deal?

Bush: Keep in mind, I also wannt to strip your right to sue big business and shut down more schools for getting low test scores. As for social security, don’t bother trying to trick me into telling you what my plan is. For now, I’m just focusing on whipping the public into unsubstantiated panic. And keep in mind, FDR is dead.

Question: How many more Christmases are American troops going to have to spend in Iraq?

Bush: I’m too clever to set policy goals that’ll you’ll just turn around and criticize me for when I abjectly fail to meet them. Also, I know how to use the expression “in toto.”

Question: What are you going to do about Iran and North Korea?

Bush: Saddam Hussein, he was a bad guy. He violated a lot of UN resolutions.

Question: Why don’t you veto some of these spending bills?

Bush: Because I told Congress what to put in them.

Question: Whose benefits are secure?

Bush: Killing Social Security would be a lot easier if those old people didn’t keep getting so panicked. It’s not their checks I want to reneg on – just everybody else’s.

Question: How is it no one seems to agree with your immigration plan?

Bush: I know immigration. I was Governor of Texas.

Question: Where the hell is Osama bin Laden? And what’s with the violations of international law at Guantanamo Bay?

Bush: Well, we’ve killed a bunch of people other than Osama bin Laden. And clearly the world community isn’t paying enough attention to our Supreme Court decision.

Question: Why doesn’t Rumsfeld sign condolence letters to the families of troops he’s sending to get killed?

Bush: I know he seems gruff, but believe me he’s a real teddy bear inside.

Question: How did the war in Iraq affect prospects for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Bush: Everybody’s got a lot of responsibilities. Also, Yasser Arafat and Colin Powell are both out of the picture now. Now, on to high school football…

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Sometimes a headline says it all:

In Kerik, Bush Saw Values Crucial to Post-9/11 World

If this doesn’t problematize a narrow conception of what values mean (opposing abortion, gay marriage, and adultery) in politics, I don’t know what will. Apparently, in Bernard Kerik’s case, two affairs (not that I think that should disqualify anybody, but a fair number of Republicans seem to think those are important), tax fraud, use of police for personal gratification (as in sending homocide cops to interrogate journalists about your girlfriend’s cellphone), a screw-up in Iraq (too bad he got passed over for the Medal of Freedom), and ties to the mob are all forgivable if you fit one Republican’s description of the archetypal cop:

They’re not pretentious, they do a hard job, they don’t get paid a lot of money, they’re real people and they live in a world that is fairly black and white, with good guys and bad guys. And that’s the way President Bush looks at the world.

Never mind how many of those descriptions actually apply to either Kerik or Bush. We know at least that the last one – seeing the world with the moral complexity of a Saturday morning cartoon show – is a value which, in this White House, trumps all others. Wonder what James Dobson has to say about that.

Meanwhile, some are wondering whether there was ever an undocumented nanny at all…