WASHINGTON, DC—Though critics have argued that he does not understand the futility of his current situation, President Bush announced today that he has no plans to remove his head from its current position: wedged painfully between two balusters on a White House staircase.
"Setting a timetable for withdrawal of my head would send mixed messages about why I put my head here in the first place," Bush said at a press conference on the Grand Staircase. "I am going to finish what I set out to accomplish here, no matter how unpopular my decision may be, or how much my head hurts while stuck between these immovable stairway posts."
Democrats, emboldened by electoral victories that gave them control of both houses of Congress, are calling for Bush to begin withdrawing his head from the banister immediately.
"Why does the president refuse to pull his head out of that banister?" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a speech yesterday. "Hasn't he had his head in there long enough? We'd all like to know just how the American people are being served by him keeping his head in that banister."
Entering its fifth day, the president's incursion into the banister is now widely considered a quagmire. Bush initially told the nation that he was going to stick his head through the banister in order to secure stockpiles of cashews on the other side. Though intelligence reports cited by the president seemed to indicate the presence of these cashews, a comprehensive probe by White House personnel revealed that no such nuts existed.
"If the president truly believed there were cashews, why didn't he ask a staffer to go around to the other side of the staircase and check for cashews first?" Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) said. "Or even just look through the banister before slamming his head in there in such a way that it can't be extricated."
Many Republicans who supported Bush early this week are now publicly criticizing the president for the way he got into the banister.
"I stood by the commander-in-chief's decision to stick his head in this banister from the beginning," said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE). "But now I'm beginning to think he may have rushed into this without thinking through all the consequences of his actions."
Voters are also voicing concerns about this latest predicament. Chicago resident Peter Colby, 41, who recently took part in a tour of the White House, said he thought Bush's actions were hurting the country's image abroad.
"It's embarrassing to see the president of the United States with his head stuck in a banister," Colby said. "He just looks stupid."
The few supporters Bush has left are privately concerned that he will go down in history as the president who wedged his head through a banister and refused to take it out despite widespread negative public sentiment and political pressure for him to do so.
For his part, Bush has scoffed at such suggestions and accused his critics of exploiting the issue without providing any viable alternatives.
"I hear a lot of criticism from the other side of the aisle, but what is the Democrat plan for victory here?" Bush said. "Some suggest rapid withdrawal, but that will most likely hurt my ears by bending them the wrong way. Others have suggested turning my head from side to side and slowly working my way out, which we all know is a recipe for failure."
In recent days, the Bush administration has been attempting to sell a new plan based on a strong forward surge.
"The only way for the president to successfully remove himself from this situation is not to pull his head out of the banister, but to push his whole body through," White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten said. "We're asking Congress and the American people to give the commander-in-chief a chance to try this new plan, which involves forcing his shoulders, torso, arms, and legs through that banister."
Bush's perceived stubbornness and refusal to accept the intractable nature of the problem only further fanned the flames of opposition.
"This administration needs to face the reality that some places are simply too narrow for the president to jam his head into," Newsweek columnist Michael Isikoff said. "President Bush is acting like a small child who, even after doing something terribly ill-advised—namely putting his head in that banister—still refuses to admit any error."
"This whole thing's just incredibly fucking stupid," Isikoff added.