After recently viewing the script for "Barney Cam V: Barney's Holiday Extravaganza," issued by the White House, I was left incredulous. Was this a hoax? (No.) Who possibly could have approved this cruel and insensitive bit of flipness?
The premise of this video Christmas card presented by the Bushes is that Barney the dog, beautifully groomed, wants to make a Christmas video, but he find he has limited funds. He thought it would be a cakewalk [he's witnessed a lot as First Dog], but after OMB turns him down, he must fly by the seat of his pants, and the script has him running about the decked out White House in order to arrange the video on a presumably shoestring budget [it seems the trickle-down effect stops just shy of the canine family members]. I shall include actual lines in blue; my comments are in blackface, er, boldface:Barney, it’s time for BarneyCam. Are you ready for it this year? Say, what’s the plot about? (Close-up of Barney, blank look.) I can see from the look on your face, Barney, that you haven’t even thought about the plot. [In this way, Barney's a chip off the old block.]
Next, "Barney...enters the library and noses through various books on filmmaking and theatre production. After completing his research, he has an idea to plan a holiday show called "Barney's Holiday Extravaganza"...
[If only GWB had done some research prior to his production.]
Barney next meets the Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, and Paulson tells him, "Barney, there’s no easy way to say this, but we’re out of money." Portman advises him "to get creative." [So, Barney is in the same boat as our servicemen in Iraq. At least the dog can work within budget constraints, which is more than we can say for his master.]
Barney then hangs out a shingle for "auditions". First, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is rejected because, "Barney said I can’t dance!" [Everyone knows ramrod white women like Spellings can't dance. Not to worry, in comes Emmitt Smith furnishing a bit of minstrelsy to save the day.]
Smith offers a bit of up-by-your-bootstraps advice to Spellings: "follow your dreams and do not get discouraged. Look what happened to me! [I got an invitation to the White House, now that I can dance.] Look, I gotta go now. I gotta go dance."
Karl Rove, Tony Snow, Dolly Parton and a cast of others make appearances. Mrs. Bush thanks the dogs and wishes a happy holiday to all at the close. I dunno about you, but I am left feeling mighty surreal after this viewing.
Barney's cute. alright, but he's high maintenance, with hair like Tiny Tim of ukelele-playing fame. He's no tunnel rat (that's o.k., Karl Rove has that job sewn up nicely.)
I know, FDR's dog Fala was also a Scottish Terrier, but Fala became an honorary Private by donating a dollar to the war effort, setting a trend for the country. You know, in the same spirit that Jimmy Carter came out in his little zippered cardigan when asking us to turn down the thermostats during the oil crisis. There was a concept of collective shared sacrifice presented. Instead, Barney shows none of this in his efforts at self-aggrandizement as emcee of his show.
They say dogs reflect the attitudes of their owners. GWB has always enjoyed the show--the simulacrum experience. How could any more be expected of the dog. It is the difference in ethos between a true communitarian feeling, which looks out for the neighbors, as opposed to the inward and egoistic focus, which sees only how things will affect oneself.
Don't get me wrong; I like dogs as well as the next guy (Jim's Buddy the Dog is definitely second in command in his house...which is not to say he has much sway, as it is a big drop from Top Dog around there.) But it does seem like a more somber, sober and sedate tone should have been struck for this Christmas release.This is entirely too ebullient in the face of current events. It shouts remoteness and insincerity, if indeed the White House wishes to portray a sense of solidarity with the troops at all.
--written by Lisa