DARTBOARD

Where editors weekly slip into the third person and land just off the bullseye

Bush’s Oratorical Mystique

On Wednesday, Dartboard nestled in next to her closest friends to watch the highly anticipated—and highly unusual—primetime press conference held by our fair George W. Only the third one of its kind since the onset of his seemingly endless tenure, Dartboard had begun to think she’d only conjured the image of this ill-fated president. She quickly realized she had no such luck. So, as the night approached, Dartboard prepared to jeer and mock the out-of-good-graces leader, as is customary. But as she braced herself to wince at mispronunciations, misnomers (Secretary of the State Rumsfeld?) and tragically ill-formed sentences (“This has been tough weeks in that country”) she actually gleaned something useful from the rhetorically-handicapped leader.

Now, no one expects—or dreams—that Bush could ever produce a coherent or eloquent public address, unlike his predecessor. But even those most reverent of quick-witted Clinton must admit that hardly anyone could hold a candle to his charisma—least of all Mr. Bush. So, it’s not fair to judge poor George against such insuperable talent. Where Bush does excel, however—and where Dartboard was supremely impressed—is in his ability to shamelessly avoid questions, of any significance, and turn a random query into a dissertation on how he is (single-handedly) “making the world a better place.”

In an article on Salon.com, Sidney Blumenthal points out that the president “was asked three times whether he accepted responsibility for failing to act before Sept. 11 on warnings such as the President’s Daily Brief of Aug. 6, 2001, titled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’” Although it seems that such pointed questions and blatant evidence (to reiterate: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”) would make anyone buckle and admit some fault, Dartboard realized that Bush’s unparalleled talents rendered him completely immune to this bullying.

Mr. Bush quickly, if incoherently, evaded the question without ever providing an answer. He responded: “I’m sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn’t yet... I just haven’t—you just put me under the spot here and maybe I’m not quick—as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.” And though it’s difficult for Dartboard to decipher Bush’s peculiar vernacular, she thinks she gets the gist.

Dartboard wonders if this type of excuse would work here at Harvard. If ever asked why she missed a section or failed to turn an assignment in on time, she is determined to flash one of Bush’s glib smirks—always present at the most inappropriate of moments—and tell her TF that a good excuse just hasn’t “popped” into her head yet.

—MORGAN R. GRICE

Perspective’s Girl Talk

Harvard’s liberal newspaper, Perspective, recently published “The Women’s Issue.” The implication here, Dartboard supposes, is that devoting almost an entire issue of a newspaper to women promotes gender equality, because women are oppressed.

Perspective pontificates that the Ad Board shouldn’t ask for evidence before investigating rape charges “due to the deeply personal nature of sexual assault.” Harvard, in other words, oppresses women by not instantly transforming its Administrative Board into a kangaroo court with a diminished burden of proof.

Other than that, it’s difficult to figure out how exactly Harvard is hostile to women. Professor of Physics Melissa Franklin told The Crimson last June that the physics department here is “arrogant and rough” for women because it is too competitive.

The fallacy that women can’t succeed in a competitive environment is precisely one of the stereotypes that feminists should be fighting. But Perspective prefers to distinguish women from men on sociological grounds—in order to suggest, as Franklin does, that if only the cultural atmosphere were fluffier, women would do better. Julia H. Fawcett ’04 writes, “Something happens when a group of women get [sic] together: the tension of competition suddenly falls away, and we begin to relate to each other.”

This is Perspective’s ideal: women sitting around in support groups and “[relating] to each other,” to the exclusion of all men and supposedly male values like “competition.” This exclusion, which students now observe in an entire Perspective issue devoted to one gender, has consequences: Men are emasculated and expressions of their masculinity—including criticism of sacrosanct television shows like “Sex and the City” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”—become politically incorrect.

Perspective should strive to be more inclusive. It could start by realizing that the common humanity both genders share is a real basis for equality. As it stands, Perspective prefers to harp on differences between men and women. As Fawcett writes, “We want to recognize women as different from men.” In that case, Dartboard hopes that Perspective will live up to its mantra of equality and in its next issue serve up some more manly fare.

—LUKE SMITH