Jan 142002

It doesn’t get any more American than football and salty snacks.

Just ask our fearless leader, President George W. Bush. He fell prey to those two great American traditions Sunday, and it almost cost him his life.

The president, chowing down while watching an NFL playoff game, nearly died as a result of a pretzel. His face is now bruised and scratched thanks to a snack that, according to a White House physician, “did not go down right.” After the pretzel lodged in his throat, he briefly lost consciousness.

How’s that for irony? Our fearless leader, guarded around the clock from serious threats, is almost taken out by a fit of serious snacking.

Rather humbling, ain’t it?

What’s embarrassing, though, isn’t that President Bush pulled a “President Ford,” but instead that the media is so fascinated by the fumble. Since when was not swallowing a national media event? (No Monica jokes, please.)

Heck, even this newspaper managed to sneak the story into Monday’s pages. And also on Monday, CNN had an expert speaking with an anchor about the perils of choking.

Isn’t there anything important going on in the news? How about that war in Afghanistan? You know, the one where all the real, non-snack food threats to America are supposedly being bombed out of existence? Instead of useful and informative news reports on why the world is going to hell, we’re getting factoids like, “The President thinks he was only out of consciousness for a few moments, as he noted that his dogs were sitting in the same places when he regained woke up.” Wow, how captivating.

And we also found out that, during the extensive doctor’s exam following what I will from now on refer to as “the pretzel episode” (or perhaps “Pretzelgate”), President Bush has an exceptionally low pulse due to his constant exercising.

Who cares? Who really cares about the President’s pulse? We certainly don’t care about the vice president’s pulse. (Or is it “former pulse” now that he has a teeny tiny nuclear-powered pacemaker regulating his heart?) We should really have better things to talk about.

But no, this will be an issue for quite a while, I’m sure. And yes, I realize that ‘m making a bit of an issue about it, too, but come on, someone needs to point it out when there’s a press conference called by any entity other than Frito-Lay to discuss a pretzel.

Bush, when questioned by reporters Monday morning, stated he should have listened to his mother, who told him to chew when eating pretzels. How long before this entire mess spawns some sort of new ad campaign, a cross between warnings to eat carefully and spots for Mother’s Day?

Sadly, I can imagine what the first public service announcement might look like:

“Hi, I’m President George W. Bush. Like many of you, I enjoy football and I enjoy pretzels. They’re both American. And as an American, it’s my job to be a good American. Those terrorists can’t take my pretzels. Unfortunately, I was never very good at listening to my mother. She always told me to chew. And I didn’t. If I’d only have listened to her, I might not have nearly choked myself to death. Children of America, our future, I want you all to be true and patriotic Americans, and listen to your mothers when they tell you to chew things carefully.

“God bless America, God bless mothers, and God bless pretzels. Oh, and don’t do drugs.”

I sincerely hope that President Bush is never caught running with scissors.

Bud Hunt prefers sweet to salty. What’s your favorite snack? Tell him via e-mail.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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