The sight of Janet Jackson’s right breast hit America with the explosive force of a terrorist bomb. The government reacted in the same way it did on the weapons-of-mass-destruction question. The Federal Communications Commission announced it was starting an investigation.
If it follows precedent, the President will explain that the investigation will not play the blame game, but will confine itself to learning whether or not the intelligence community had warned CBS that Ms. Jackson had a right tit. Did CBS and Viacom know? And if they did know, did the people at the top know, and should they have been able to connect the dots and anticipate what Justin Timberlake called a “wardrobe malfunction”?
The Democrats are screaming cover-up, although, under the circumstances, that particular accusation doesn’t seem to hold much water. What they’re demanding to know is: Does Jackson have another breast? Is America in danger of a second surprise attack? Does Timberlake have any confederates? Are there other men who hope to do the same thing?
The intelligence community is casting a wider and more suspicious net. They are expressing skepticism about the so-called Jackson right breast. Was what was shown on television really a right breast, and did it really belong to Janet Jackson? Could this be fraud? Given that some members of the Jackson family are famous for their feats of cosmetic metamorphosis, how can the government have been so sure that Janet Jackson has tits? She may have had one or even two at one time, but that was years ago. Prior to the shocking event broadcast from the Super Bowl, when, if ever, were this woman’s tit and/or tits last seen? She has been under constant public inspection for years, and there are no published accounts of her tits’ whereabouts. Satellite photographs have shown protuberances on her costumes which the ministers of all the major religions have decried, but we don’t know if they were protesting actual breasts or simulated breasts achieved with foam rubber, rolled-up socks or other devices commonly used by such people, whoever they may be.
Democrats and even a few Republicans are saying that these questions cannot be answered by the President’s investigation, which is being conducted by his own appointee, Michael Powell, the chairman of the F.C.C. and the son of Colin Powell, who told the United Nations Security Council on another occasion that “We know from sources that a missile brigade outside of Baghdad was dispersing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents …. ” If the Jackson family suffers from a propensity for self-morphing, the Powells may have a problem with hysterical exaggeration.
Regardless, the demand for another investigation grows louder by the day. Critics outside the administration are pointing out that the nation is (if you’ll pardon the expression) virtually naked against the possibility of another attack. At any moment, some indescribably comely chanteuse might commit a shocking ecdysiastical act on network television and, according to Tom Ridge, the Homeland Security czar, no way currently exists to stop her. Attorney General John Ashcroft reports that even with the powers vested in him under the PATRIOT Act, he has been unable to reverse the growing number of male entertainers grabbing their crotches in prime time. Although the Justice Department has denied it, the rumor in Washington has it that Mr. Ashcroft is considering arresting women with buxom profiles and sending them to Guantánamo. A small group in the department is arguing for making busty women wear muu-muus and signs warning others that they are potentially dangerous.
Half of Washington-the noisy half-is unanimous that another committee is needed. All experts agree that it must be nonpolitical, nonpartisan and above politics. The only people who fit that description are a small number of anchorites-who live in the desert on the tops of columns-among the Coptic Christians of Egypt. (For more, see St. Simon Stylites, A.D. 390-459, the first and most famous of these holy flagpole-sitters.) Unfortunately, the Copts are Monophysites, who deny the divinity of Christ and are therefore not likely to be accepted by the Republican base. There is a Monophysite community in America, centered in southwest Colorado, and although they are the swing vote in that one Congressional district, senior political analysts on CNN doubt that there are enough of them for the President to move to the left on the issue and strip Jesus of his divinity. The evangelical backlash would be too great. The second objection is that the Colorado Monophysites community contains no anchorites. If the new committee were to be made up of real, nonpolitical anchorites, they would have to be imported-and if they insisted on remaining on the tops of their columns, the committee would be yet more cumbersome than most government commissions.
A second battle has erupted over when the committee should make its findings public. The nonpolitical people are insisting that nothing be said until after the elections in the fall, otherwise the voters might stumble across the facts and cast their ballots accordingly-and if there is one thing which can mess up a modern Bush-type exportable democracy, it is an informed electorate. So that’s a non-starter.
In the meantime, a third committee has been formed to address the question of accountability and transparency. This is the forum in which the heads of the spy agencies, the intelligence (such as it is) and counterintelligence community, get to explain how it wasn’t their fault. Had they only known what the other agencies and departments did know at the time but didn’t tell them, they would have been able to run out into the mass of gyrating pelvises at Super Bowl half-time and throw themselves between the television cameras and Janet Jackson’s so-called tit.
This committee will show how the tit attack was not the failure of anyone in the government to do his job, but the failure was the system. The system is bad-very bad-and it should be dragged over the coals and revised. The system is so bad that the computers can’t talk to each other and none of the agencies have each other’s telephone numbers. If Congress would be good enough to appropriate just a few more billion dollars, a new birth of coordination and interpersonal relations will occur in the intelligence community and America will be safe.
Some elements are not waiting on the committees and the commissions, be they high-level or low, blue-ribbon or another color. Judith Miller, the ace finder of weapons of mass destruction for The New York Times , is on the case with a crack team of people assigned to her by the Army. They have vowed-notice that they tend to vow in these situations-to fan out across Hollywood, where it is believed that thousands of tits are stored in closely guarded warehouses and on unmonitored cable channels.
The search for tits being carried on by police agencies everywhere has come up with shocking discoveries. Many major religious and cultural institutions have been revealed to be significant tit repositories. The Vatican Museum is crawling with them-very large ones, often without pasties and clearly within the sight of children. There is enough of this kind of material in the Metropolitan Museum of Art alone to pose a significant threat to the American family. An unknown but what is believed to be a huge number of tits-running into the tens of thousands-are being brought into the country by thousands of Hispanic women every day, or so it is believed. No one can say how big the undocumented or illegal tit problem is.
The President is considering increasing money for his sexual-abstinence program. Some thought is being given to ending the war on the Muslims, since Mr. Bush has been told that they are as strong on girl virginity as he is. An anti-titical movement is not out of the question, with American women being encouraged to wear veils and long robes in public. But one way or another, Mr. Bush is determined to keep the nation safe.