Groundhog day

Punxsutawney Phil

A tale of two fantasies

Once a year, a rodent in western Pennsylvania emerges from hibernation in his comfortable den to report on the weather. And once a year W emerges from hibernation in his comfortable White House to report on the state of the union. Both events are fantastic, as in "sheer fantasy."

Crowds gathered to see Punxsutawney Phil
Cheering throngs

In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, throngs of people assemble to attend the spectacle as Phil is brought by his handlers into the light of day. They cheer and clap, sharing in the absurdity that the groundhog's performance has anything to do with reality.

Punxsutawney Phil and friends
Phil and his admirers

According to lore, if Phil sees his shadow it is an omen of more winter to come; if he doesn't see his shadow it portends an early spring (The Real Groundhog Day .com). This is clearly preposterous, for the event is little more than a photo op to market the small town of Punxsutawney.

W gives State of the Union 2004
Cheering throngs

At the end of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the people's Senators and Representatives and other high muckety-mucks assemble to attend the spectacle as W is ushered by his handlers into the Capitol. They cheer and clap, sharing in the absurdity that the Shrub's performance has anything to do with reality.

Bush delivers state of union 2004
W and his admirers

According to the Constitution, "The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient" (Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution).

W's performance in the State of the Union will be preposterous, for it will be nothing more than a well-honed marketing pitch — an infomercial — for his latest pet project to bring rack and ruin upon the country. He will warn of dire dangers if Social Security is not transformed to private accounts (except he will call them 'personal accounts' because 'private accounts' doesn't poll well). And he will foretell of the glorious march of Liberty through the Middle East, the carnage and chaos in Iraq and the elusive Osama bin Laden still on the loose notwithstanding.

The president's State of the Union address and the observance of Groundhog Day are both exercises in salesmanship. And if you believe either one, let me tell you about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy.