The Bush administration's ultimate weapon.

The Bush administration's ultimate weapon.

The Bush administration's ultimate weapon.

Policy made plain.
April 2 2003 7:24 PM

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(Lead Page One headline, USA Today, April 2.)

Frustrated by heavier-than-expected resistance from Iraq's elite troops, U.S. President George W. Bush authorized today the use of what many consider to be the ultimate weapon of mass destruction: bores. Even as the president made his announcement at a brief—though it seemed lengthy—appearance in the White House press room, the skies over Iraq turned a dramatic light gray as thousands of bores dropped from American warplanes. Parachuted—along with several "embedded" columnists and TV commentators—into clusters of Iraqi troops and Baathis officials, the American bores immediately launched into discussions of whether it was likely to rain and heated debates about which teams might make it into next year's Super Bowl. The effect was devastating. "The pointlessness of discussing the possibility of rain in the middle of the desert in the beginning of the summer has long been known to make this an especially powerful weapon for use in the Middle East," said a Pentagon official who asked not to be awakened. "But today we confirmed that talk about American sports can be an even more effective battlefield weapon because it is devastatingly boring to foreigners, while Americans actually find it stimulating."

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According to experts, a single bore, if deployed in prime time, can paralyze an entire nation. "Bores are especially powerful weapons precisely because the damage they inflict is so focused," said Günter Yawn, director of Wake Up America, Wake Up (WUAWU), a broad-based coalition of boredom inactivists and lack-of-interest groups. "The neutron bombs developed in the 1980s were regarded as insidious because they killed people while leaving buildings, weapons, and other property intact. Bores go one step further: They leave the property and the people physically intact, but destroy their victims' minds."

This evening, as the Iraqis struggled to regain consciousness, they were hit with a second wave of bores, some of them nattering about baseball statistics and others reviewing opera. In his announcement, Mr. Bush warned Saddam Hussein that American opera companies will begin putting on actual performances throughout Iraq unless he cedes power immediately. "Nor will we hesitate to drop all 17 volumes of Robert Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson on targets of opportunity among the Iraqi leadership. The United States of America will always strive not to bop innocent civilians on the head with heavy hardcover volumes, but let us be clear: If they find Caro's high-decibel hectoring and tedious, repetitive detail unbelievably annoying, the true author of their misery is Saddam Hussein. Americans are a compassionate people, and we will distribute free synopses of all Caro volumes to every Iraqi citizen who needs them. But not until Saddam is gone." White House officials are said to hope that this strategy will encourage a coup.

Until today, successive U.S. administrations have refused to confirm or deny that the United States possesses Weapons of Mass Tedium. But all have said that America would never be the first to go boring in a crisis. Asked to justify today's action in light of this long-standing policy, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "This is not a crisis. What occurred today was pre-emptive boredom. The president calls it Boredom of Opportunity. As the world's only remaining superpower, the United States must bore those who would bore us and our 43 or 44 allies in this endeavor. Here, let me read out the entire list: Armenia, Antartica, Africa, did I say Armenia? ..."

Fleischer denied persistent rumors that the Bush family has stockpiles of bores hidden at its various palaces. "What you call 'stockpiles,' " Fleischer told a reporter, are actually Bush relatives who gather regularly here and there to exercise their constitutionally protected right to repeat the same family anecdotes again and again, or perhaps to play Fish and other innocent card games." This is a tradition in old WASP families, Fleischer explained. "It may seem boring to you, but it's not boring to them."

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Mr. Yawn, the boredom inactivist, said, "The American government has demonstrated repeatedly its willingness to bore its own citizens. Why should anyone be surprised by its decision to spread boredom among people halfway around the world?" There is no known antidote, he added.

Michael Kinsley is a columnist, and the founding editor of Slate.