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St. Anthony and the president

My Uncle Nunzi says everything with this president is missing. He can’t find weapons of mass destruction. He can’t find Osama bin Laden. He can’t find Saddam. This administration has been all about looking for things they know are there, but they can’t find. Three days ago, half of Bush’s cabinet couldn’t find their car keys.

Uncle swears he saw Bush at the recent St. Anthony’s Festival at St. Monica’s. He claims he saw a guy in a gray suit and wearing a red tie who looked as if he didn’t belong in the parish, and that he was chewing on a cannoli and pinning a dollar bill on the saint’s statue. I admit the likelihood is farfetched, but I ask you, is it any more farfetched than Saddam showing up in the middle of the war strolling in the marketplace and kissing babies?

Furthermore, Uncle says if it was Bush, it is a good thing. Uncle has long advocated that the president turn to St. Anthony to at least help him find the WMD. St. Anthony, for Uncle and a lot of my family, is really the patron saint of the lost and found. I’m not sure this is what St. Anthony had in mind when he was canonized, but that’s what he’s stuck with, and he’s making the best of it.

Bush has tried everything else. Before the war, the White House claimed it had a map showing exactly where the WMD was hidden. It’s to the left of Yusef’s Pharmacy at 55th and Baath Boulevard. Another chunk is under an oceanfront apartment on Suicide Drive. The rest, Saddam’s son is keeping in the back pocket of a brown suit he wears only to bar mitzvahs, which means he doesn’t wear it too often.

Every few days, either the president or Ari Fleischer (who’s quitting soon because he knows a dead-end job when he sees one) anxiously announce that the search in Iraq has yielded the WMD, Saddam, one of Saddam’s sons or a great brunch spot near one of the palaces. The inevitable disappointment soon follows. The WMD turn out to be some leftover parts from a game of Legos, and the DNA on Saddam and his sons actually came from the body parts of a pizza deliveryman who got caught in one of the palace bombing raids.

The president is clearly frustrated. He’s got nine Democrats running for his job, and they’re nipping at his hindquarters. The Democrats couldn’t find Iraq on the map before all this began and suddenly they’re experts. Howard Dean thought WMD was an acronym for "white male doctor." Al Sharpton was sure the "W" stood for "white."

Uncle is right. This is clearly a job for St. Anthony. I know Bush is not a Catholic and Uncle has forgiven him for that. But lots of non-Catholics I know have turned to St. Anthony to find things. Who else are they going to turn to, especially if they live in one of those ritzy sections that don’t even have a lost and found?

I understand the political fallout that will occur once the New York Times reports that Bush is praying to St. Anthony. But the Times is hardly in a judgmental position these days. Think Jayson Blair. Besides, Nancy Reagan used an astrologer and got away with it for eight years. St. Anthony has a better track record.

I think Uncle Nunzi may be on to something. If the liberal media blasts Bush for praying to St. Anthony, Fox News could counter with Bill O’Reilly charging that the president is the victim of an atheistic news media. Between the economy and Iraq, the president really needs to become a sympathetic figure instead of the nebbish he’s turned out to be. Besides, in 2004 — better than St. Anthony — Bush has the Supreme Court on his side if they screw up the ballots in Florida again.

Be aware, however, that even St. Anthony won’t be able to locate Saddam’s nuclear bombs, because apparently Cheney and Rumsfeld were lying through their capped teeth about it. I know this shocks older Americans such as myself who lived through the Lyndon Johnson-Richard Nixon-Bill Clinton years — that the White House might on occasion lie to us — but we’ve learned it might mean we get another Robert Redford-Dustin Hoffman movie, and that’s all that matters.

If St. Anthony solves the Iraq dilemma for Bush, maybe he can use the saint’s help to bring peace to the Middle East. On second thought, he might need St. Jude for that one.

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