Featured Column
Week of 7.10.2006
My Two Dreams
          I had been asleep for an hour when the first dream of the night played in my head.
          There was President George W. Bush standing behind the podium. Seated below and in front of him were members of the press corps. It was one of the president’s infrequent press conferences.
          The president, just passed celebrating his 60th birthday, was wearing a dark blue suit and a solid red tie.
          He offered his nervous smile to the assembled reporters and said, “Thank you for coming today. Before I accept any questions from you, I would like to make an announcement.” At those words, the bored television cameramen in the back of the room came to life. The president rarely made special announcements at any of these press conferences. The president didn’t even feel comfortable being in the same room with a few dozen members of the press. Everyone in the room leaned forward as the cameras brought the president’s words to an eager and weary nation.
          The president gave his tie a brief tug, forced one of his crooked smiles and said, “After meeting with the leaders of our coalition forces fighting in Iraq, our own military leaders in the field in Iraq and members of the Iraqi government I have made a decision to begin the withdrawal of our troops from Iraqi soil.”
          The announcement took everyone in the room by surprise. The television cameras zoomed in on the president’s face. Cell phones were activated. Stunned network anchors and reporters locked eyes in amazement.
          “Leaders of the world community, along with members of the freely elected Iraqi government feel that Iraq has reached a point where the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police can protect their own citizens, and so, it is time for our partners in the coalition and all American forces to leave Iraq. We have set a date of December 31, 2006 for all coalition and American military forces to leave Iraq. By the new year 2007 all of our American men and women will be out of Iraq and that nation will be free to govern and protect itself.”
          Meeting the eyes of ageing White House reporter Helen Thomas and two of his favorite female network reporters, the president said, “Thank you,” turned on his heels and left the room, leaving White House Press chief Tony Snow to handle the shocked and buzzing crowd of news people.
          The barking of my neighbor’s dog woke me up. It was 2 a.m.
          It took me almost half an hour to fall back asleep.
          The next image I saw in my mind was of an older President George W. Bush, grayer and slightly stooped. He was standing at the same podium in the White House communication center. A man I didn’t recognize stood beside him. The man stepped to the microphone, bent it to suit his height and said, “Thank you for coming here at this early hour. The president has an announcement and there will be no question and answer period.” 
           With that, President Bush stepped forward, adjusted the microphone downward and said, “As you may know, during the past week we have been holding strategic meetings with my secretary of defense, members of the Pentagon, representatives of the Iraqi coalition forces and with elected members of the Iraqi government. Due to the ever increasing amount of violence occurring in Iraq, especially in Baghdad and other large cities, we have decided to increase the level of American forces in Iraq. We are immediately sending 30,000 more troops to the Iraqi area to provide protection for the Iraqi military and civilian populations.”
          The president continued, “It appears that the amount of insurgents entering Iraq from Syria, Iran and Jordan are increasing in large numbers. Our surveillance planes have noticed a large build-up of Iranian troops near the Iraqi border. The president of Iran has notified our coalition friends and us that starting next week they will perform some tests of their newly created intermediate rockets and delivery systems. We are concerned about these tests and the massing of four battalions of Iranian forces near the Iraqi border. We are also concerned about a build up of what appears to be missile launching systems on the Syrian-Iraqi borders.”
          Putting his right hand in his jacket pocket, the president offered a mild smile, leaned forward towards the microphone and said, “It is now March of 2008. We have been fighting in Iraq, trying to teach democracy there, since 2003. We are making great progress in our battle against terrorism and we look forward to the day when all Iraqis will be free to live their lives in peace and democracy. God bless America.”
           My neighbor’s dog started barking again and woke me. It was now 5:30 a.m. and my sleep was over.
           I usually don’t remember my dreams, but these two remain in my thoughts.
Different night images
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger