Karl Rove sat in one of the opposing couches in the Oval Office. He was fully dressed in a Navy blue business suit, with white shirt and red tie. Today he also had gold cuff links, each in the shape of a waving United States flag. A US flag was pinned to the lapel of his blazer. He was reading the sports section of the Washington Times.
George W. Bush emerged from the curved door to the private Oval Office bathroom. He was wearing pin-striped boxer shorts and black socks. Nothing else.
“Hey, I didn’t know anyone was here,” said President Bush.
“The Nationals won,” said Rove.
“Oh, crikey, like I really care about the Nationals. I am not a DC guy. Tell me about the Astros,” said the President.
“What are you doing undressed in the Oval Office, George? This is your office. You are supposed to get dressed in your bedroom upstairs,” said Rove.
The President picked up the white Oxford shirt thrown on the back of the couch that was opposite Rove. He placed his arms in the shirtsleeves and started to button up.
“I came down in my PJs and took a shower in the Oval Office bathroom. Is that OK with you,” said the President.
“It’s Memorial Day. I say we go to some funerals,” said Rove.
“I hate funerals. Let’s go to Walter Reed Hospital,” said the President.
“Wrong holiday for that. This is Memorial Day, not Veterans Day,” said Rove.
“What? We can’t memorialize our veterans?” asked the President.
“Veterans are not dead. A veteran is alive,” said Rove.
“A dead veteran is not a veteran?” asked the President.
“George, George…it is about time we do the funeral thing. We are over 2,500 dead in Iraq. Thirteen bodies were flown in over the weekend. I have arranged for one of them to have an Arlington burial,” said Rove.
“It is not life affirming. I would rather go to Walter Reed and visit our soldiers who are alive, Karl. And maybe while we are there, one of them might die, and we can do the memorial thing,” said the President.
“There’s no symbolic value to that. Death in a hospital is private and has not pageantry,” said Rove.
By now, George W. Bush was working his red and blue diagonally striped tie over buttoned white shirt, but he was still in his boxers and black socks.
“Actually, is there a baseball game today. That has symbolic value,” said the President.
“What is it with you and cemeteries?” asked Rove.
“I am not going to a cemetery. And I do not want to be near a coffin. OK. You got that,” said the President.
“Listen to me, George. This is Memorial Day. We are memorializing thousands, damn near a million American men and women who died either in the service of battle or after they have completed their service. That includes the 50,000 who are dead from Viet Nam, 35,000 in the Korean War, 300,000 in World War Two, 100,000 in World War One, 500,000 in the Civil War, and 5,000 in the Revolutionary War. We are only up to 2,500 in Iraq, so to concentrate on the dead of all of America’s wars makes the Iraq War seem small,” said Rove.
George W. Bush slipped on his pants.
“How many died in my Daddy’s War?” asked the President.
“By “Daddy’s War” you are referring to the Gulf War, not the war your father fought in?” asked Rove.
“Yes. Yes, how many,” asked the President.
“Less than 200,” said Rove.
“Jeeez. Less than 200,” said the President.
“The Spanish American War was less than 500,” said Rove.
“So what do we do about that? That makes Iraq look bad,” said the President.
“We do not talk about the Gulf War or the Spanish American War. We talk about all the others. It puts Iraq in perspective,” said Rove.
“Good. I feel better already. Keep me having a good perspective, Karl. But I am still not going to a cemetery,” said the President.
“Think of Arlington like a park with little memorials all in nice neat rows. Don’t think about what is underground,” said Rove.
“A park, huh. OK. Arlington National Park. Got it. What’s for breakfast?” asked the President.