Schrödinger’s Iraq

Philosophy, Iraq, mice? President Bush made some very strange comments in a press conference.

WASHINGTON—President Bush addressed the media on Wednesday from the White House. His remarks:

Bush: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I realize that my press conferences are something of a rarity, and know that many of you equate my reticence to hold them as tantamount to evasion. I would nonetheless like to take this opportunity to address any questions you may have regarding the policies and activities of this administration.

[Long silence]

Bush: No one? Have I before me a crowd devoid of inquisitive minds?

Paul Weinberg, New York Times: Is that really you? George W. Bush? The President?

Bush: [Laughs] Of course it is I. What, do you think my position has been usurped by a doppelganger?

[Long silence]

Bush: Come now, I cannot tarry all day. Ms. Marlin, I’ve never known you to suffer a dearth of inquiries. What say you?

Jennifer Marlin, Washington Post: Uhhh. Well, Mr. President…Um, okay. I wanted to ask you how you plan to pay for your tax cuts, when we have to fund both the War of Terror and…

Bush: Ah yes, the economy. So certain was I that this would be amongst the topics discussed here today that I took the liberty of setting up this white board in anticipation of this very question. I’m frankly astonished that the nation’s citizens are so reluctant to do the trigonometry and see for themselves how the entire package factors out. But I suppose the American people, as Søren Kierkegaard observed, ‘demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.’ No matter: I’m willing to walk you through it, simply as an intellectual exercise.

The fundamental problem with the media’s analysis of the budget is that they insist on viewing expenditures and debits in linear, two-dimensional space. But if I plot the nation’s economic system onto a torus—a representation of America’s dynamic system of commerce much preferable to that of the standard X-Y graph—I shall demonstrate, through the use of a few higher level polynomial equations, that we may expect several years of budget surplus. Allow me to explicate.

[The presentation that follows is largely incomprehensible.]

Bush: And, if we carry the one, it becomes clear that, even with the tax cuts, the budget contains ample funds to keep America solvent for decades to come. Let us move on, shall we? Ms. Kentwell?

Sandra Kentwell, CNN: Um, one thing that I’ve noticed about your position on Iraq is that it changes from day to day. Sometimes you say that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. And yet, other times you say that the purpose of this war—this ‘preemptive action’ as you call it—is to prevent him from making weapons of mass destruction. So, I guess I’d like to ask, which is it? Does Saddam have these WMDs, or not?

Bush: That’s more like it. Excellent question, Ms. Kentwell! Why, I can’t tell you how nice it is to initiate a dialogue with an intellect of the same caliber as my own. Conversing with those who, like me, ‘live the life of the mind,’ is always cause for ebullience.

But enough shilly-shally. Let me address your query directly.

I must confess that, until recently, I was vexed by this very point; namely, does Saddam have, in his possession, weapons of mass destruction? As our treatment of North Korea illustrates, the United States’ policy towards a rogue nation is contingent upon the answer to this most vital of questions.

But in the last few weeks, I have come to realize my folly in analyzing the issue of WMD-ownership in strict accordance with Newtonian-physics. Once I jettisoned my preconceived notions of reality, the matter became–

Marlin: I’m sorry, did you say ‘Newtonian physics?’

Bush: Precisely. If you view Iraq in a classical Newtonian framework, then you must concede that they either do or do not have weapons of mass destruction. It is this narrow mindset that causes such confusion in the uninformed.

But, over President’s Day weekend at Camp David, I delved into the collected writings of Erwin Schrödinger, and now have no recourse but to conclude that Saddam both has and does not have weapons of mass destruction.

Weinberg: How’s that again?

Bush: Hah hah! Yes, I’ll freely admit that the concept is a bit difficult to grasp, unless you’re something of a physics hobbyist, as I have become since the operation. But if you examine the facts on a subatomic level, the proposition that Iraq both has and does not have these weapons is really inescapable. Here, allow me to give you an overview of quantum mechanics in general, and the principles of Schrödinger’s hypothesis in specific…

[The presentation that follows is largely incomprehensible.]

Bush: And so as you can see, until such time that the inner workings of Iraq are observed by the outside world, its WMD program exists in both a state of being and of not being—or, to put it simply, in a state of ‘superposition.’

James Groff, L.A. Observer: But why don’t you want to allow inspections to continue?

Bush: Here we come to the very crux of the matter. As I have just elucidated, so long as Iraq is kept in this state of superposition it only half-has weapons of mass destruction. But the mere act of observing Iraq may force it to enter one state or the other; analogous, in the demonstration I just gave, to the opening of the box and immediately rendering the cat either dead or alive. By continuing inspections, we run the risk of giving Iraq the WMDs it so desperately wants. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather deal with a Saddam that only half-has WMDs rather than a Saddam who, you know, like totally has them.

We’re almost out of time, and I think I’ve speaked enough about Iraq. Perhaps we could discuss some other issues? Yes, Mr. Falkon.

Damion Falk, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: I hope you don’t mind my asking, but have you gotten, uh, smarter recently?

Bush: Ah, yes. Well, we was going to make this announcement later, but I don’t see what is the big secret. I’m pleasing to report that in January I undergone some experimental surgery at the Beekman College. Dr. Strauss and Mr. Nemur have had great success in raising up the smartness of mice, and I was so wowed by their results that I volunteered to be the first to try and be a ‘guinea pig of humans,’ as they say in Texas, probably in Tennessee. Now I am as smart as the mice, even smarter than Algernon who was the smartest mousie of all. I love Algernon. Algernon is my friend.

No time for more questions, I must go home. Thank you. God bless America. And remember, Saddam evil. Saddam evil. Thank you. God Bless Algernon. Can I have a juice box?