With me in the studio is Robert — he’s a bomb
He’s just returning home from his Rhodes Scholarship in France
Also, we have Stella — she’s a long-range guided missile
and the world’s first awardee of three MacArthur “genius” grants
Thomas is a warhead of the air-to-ground variety
who gained some notoriety with his treatise on Artaud,
and Jennifer speaks fluently in nine African languages
and hopes to learn another one before she explodes
What these four bright weapons have in common is a problem
— I don’t mean the confusion over last year’s Nobel Prize —
It’s tragic, and it’s farcical, how the world’s smartest arsenal
always seems to fall for all the wrong guys
They’ve tried the 12-step programs, the self-help manuals
They’ve analyzed all the annuals we can keep on the shelves
So what is this pathology that makes our best technology
go loco for politicos much dumber than themselves?
Is there a solution? The bombs want your opinion
Please call in and talk to us — We need to hear your voices
Let’s go to the phones — This is the topic of our show tonight:
Smart Bombs, Foolish Choices
Caller #1 (Alice):
Hi, my name is Alice. Here’s my question to the arsenal
— I hope it’s not too personal — I only want statistics
If the people they obey are so much stupider than they are,
is it only politicians who make them go ballistic?
Alice, let me answer that. It’s true, most of the precedents
are generals and presidents, but I once had a crush
on a top research professor at a major university,
who seemed to have, recurrently, the same problem as us.
So are you saying some official only has to whistle,
and you misguided missiles will eat out of his palm?
Well, yes and no. To quote Foucault: “The discipline machine — ”
Whoa — you went way over my head there.
Well, you’re lucky. I’m a bomb.
Chorus of Experts:
Is it the pressure? Could be the pressure.
It could be just the pressure to perform.
Chorus of Weapons:
With every weapons test, we get a little stressed.
It’s hard being so far above the norm.
Caller # 2 (Ben):
Yeah, my name is Ben, and I’m just out of the reserves
I thought I’d get through college when I went in to enlist
Last place we invaded, you killed more of us than they did
It turns out you don’t have to be a rocket scientist
You take one of our soldiers and a soldier of Saddam’s
Well, I can’t tell the difference, and neither can our bombs
And these may be the last words any soldier we deploy says:
“Smart Bombs, F—”
Ben, let me respond to that — Hello? Ben? Are you there?
Let’s take a call from Montreal. It’s Joe, you’re on the air.
Caller # 3 (Joe):
Yeah, tell me, what’s the use of PhDs for ICBMs
if your politics are throwbacks to the Roman Colosseum?
And when you leave the study, to seek a little heat,
how’re you gonna tell a good guy from a villain?
It turns out your education was so vague and incomplete
that you can’t even tell anthrax from penicillin.
Chorus of Callers:
Are they so clever? They’re not so clever.
Just ask the population of Sudan
The smartest bomb of all would never even fall,
would stay up in the air like Peter Pan
(I won’t blow up!)
Caller #4 (Unnamed):
Well okay, Mr. MX, with your staggering IQ,
why don’t you tell us what you’d do if you only had your choice?
Well, I’d bababadalgaraghtakaminaronkhonbrontonnerontuanthunn
— that wasn’t an explosion, I was quoting from James Joyce.
Belgrade’s on the telephone, an echo through the shards, saying:
Wow, the bomb that did this must have been extremely smart!
Or were those the last words any city we destroy says...?