Daily Archives: April 8, 2004

Swattin’ the Fly

Looking over her testimony one particular passage stands out —

KERREY. You’ve used the phrase a number of times and I’m hoping with my question to disabuse you of using it in the future, you said the president was tired of swatting flies. Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to Al Qaeda prior to 9/11?
RICE. I think what the president was speaking to –
KERREY. No, what fly had he swatted?
RICE. Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on. When the C.I.A. would go after Abu(?) –
KERREY. No, no. He hadn’t swatted –
RICE. – or go after this guy. That was what was meant.
KERREY. Dr. Rice, we only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn’t swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?
RICE. We swatted – I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after and there. And that’s what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech.

Oh it’s more than that, Condi. It’s a song that Vernon Duke and Howard Dietz wrote back in 1943 for a show called Dancing in the Streets

A day in Summer
And it’s a hummer–
The “eye of heaven” is high.
A day in Summer
And I am swattin’ the fly.

The little critter
That loves to flitter
Is most elusive and shy.
I never hit’er
But I keep swattin’ the fly.

I wonder why does a fly
Do his winging and sining.
Willing to die
For the freedom to buzz as he does.

Don’t know the answer
The airy dancer
Is very numble and spry
This is the season,
The reason I am swattin’ the fly.

I wonder why does a fly
Do his winging and singing.
Willing to die
For the freedom to buzz as he does.

Have they got feelings–
They sit on ceilings–
The kingdom they occupy.
They make a body
A busybody swattin’ the fly

Dancing in the Streets starred the great Mary Martin —

but it closed out of town in 1943.

Luckily Dawn Upshaw has made a first-rate recording of it on her Vernon Duke album.

They’re not exactly Dancing in the Streets of Baghdad these days.

But there’s nary an Iraqi who’s not

“Willing to die
For the freedom to buzz as he does.”