This is the heroic tale of King George II, proud son of the House of Bush, and his glorious quest for the Valorous Veto Quill.

For many years, George knew of the quill’s existence only from some ancient parchment that he had heard about but long since forgotten. And so he fought the evil force that menaced his kingdom without raising the sacred quill.

But then one day in the sixth year of his reign, the Stem Cell Yeti came roaring over the mountainside to terrify his kingdom, threatening to drive away the Parkinson’s Fairy and the Diabetes Wizard. Possessed by a courage he had never known, George seized the Valorous Veto Quill and slew the vile Stem Cell!

The kingdom rejoiced as word of George’s bravery spread across lands far and wide. But it wasn’t long before they faced a new enemy, one fiercer than any they had ever before seen. It was the malevolent and fire-breathing Dragoncrats, driven into red-hot rage and determined to destroy the peace that King George had created.

And so they sent the Withdrawal Ghoul, which would have forced the royal army to end its indefinite stay in mythical, far-off Iraq. And so George again raised up his quill, and with it, he smote the Ghoul.

And then the Dragoncrats sent in the most odious villain in their arsenal – the Children’s Health Insurance Ogre, which might have packed the kingdom’s hospitals with sick children suddenly able to afford treatment. Another swipe, and George had felled this latest threat.

But the battle against the Dragoncrats was far from over, and soon they embarked on a new dastardly mission – to threaten the fairest damsel in the land, Lady Fiscal Conservatism. Although George had only a passing acquaintance with the damsel, having allowed her to be ravaged by the Prescription Drug Demon and the Plummeting Deficit of Doom, he would not allow the Dragoncrats to steal her honor. Armed with a serious purpose and the Valorous Veto Quill, he rode to her defense.

Oh, I love fairy tales. The only problem with this one, of course, is that there’s no chance for a happy ending for another 419 days.

In his latest act of antagonizing Congress – which lately seems to have become his sole remaining hobby – President Bush accused Democratic leaders of behaving “like a teenager with a new credit card” in allocating money in the federal budget. Yet this seems like a far more apt description of the way Bush has treated his veto power while facing opposition in Congress.

You see, for most people who claim this mantle, fiscal responsibility isn’t a fall fashion. But Bush seems not to notice the irony that, after proceeding for the first six years of his presidency without raising even the specter of a veto against a Republican spending bill, he is prepared to shut down the government because the Democrats’ budget exceeds his request by a total of $22 billion out of a total budget of around $1 trillion.

For anyone but the incumbent president, this would seem to be the height of hypocrisy, a posture so intellectually dishonest that it might actually inspire a laugh.

But Bush’s sense of humor seems not to detect the hilarity of condemning congressional action while impeding progress at every turn. In addition to the five vetoes he has issued since Democrats took control this January, Bush has issued threats against countless other bills – virtually every spending bill, a proposal to extend soldiers’ time at home between tours of duty in Iraq and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to name a few.

Veto politics – “showdowns,” as the media likes to refer to them – usually make for a great spectator sport, like when President Clinton (SFS ’68) used his veto to shut down the government to protest draconian Republican budget cuts. He eventually forced their hand.

But Bush’s 11th-hour discovery of his veto conveys the somber aura of a president simply running out the clock, who has long since given up on the chance to achieve real results on serious issues and has chosen instead to prevent others from making their own attempts. And it would take some real fairy-tale magic to change that.

Stephen Santulli is a senior in the College and a former editor in chief of THE HOYA. He can be reached at THOUGHTCRIME appears every other Friday.

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