Thursday, October 5, 2006

“The Way It Is, Not the Way Somebody Would Hope It Would Be”

If there has been an administration in recent (or even ancient) memory that has based (1) an entire foreign policy and (2) the waging of war on the ‘way they hoped it would be,’ please e-mail me and name it.


Bushexplainer_1

In the be careful what you say department, particularly what you say in front of reporters, George Bush should have bitten his tongue when the words were halfway out. A kind of between breath ‘oh, oh’ might have fired off in the millisecond between intention and utterance to save him some embarrassment.

If there has been an administration in recent (or even ancient) memory that has based (1) an entire foreign policy and (2) the waging of war on the ‘way they hoped it would be,’ please e-mail me and name it.

Another Bushism announced itself just yesterday, as the president expressed the belief that

“this traumatic period in Iraq will be seen as "just a comma" in the history books.”

In his dreams.

History has yet to relegate the battle of the bulge or the retaking of the Phillipines to ‘just a comma’ in the prosecution of the Second World War. Yet they were, each of them, less time consuming and more contributory to victory than the endless, downward-spiraling trajectory of Iraq.

Same day on the presidential campaign trail, different audience. Bush characterized 127 Democrats as saying what he wished they had said instead of what they actually did say. He was speaking of the House vote in consideration of his warrantless phone and e-mail surveillance legislation.

"One hundred and seventy-seven of the opposition party said, 'You know, we don't think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists.'" 

Which, of course, they did not say.

Peter Baker reports in the Washington Post

Asked about the president's statement, White House aides could not name any Democrat who has said that the government should not listen in on terrorists. Democrats who voted against the legislation had complained that it would hand too much power to the president and had said that they wanted more checks in the bill to protect civil liberties.

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) called Bush's comment outrageous: "Every member of Congress, from both parties, supports listening in on terrorist communications, but the president still hasn't explained why we have to break the law to do it. It is time for the president to stop exploiting the terrorist threat to justify his power grab."

So, it turns out not a single Democrat has ‘said’ any such thing, although a good many of them (living and dead) have charged Bush with violations of

  • The War Crimes Act
  • The United States Constitution
  • The Geneva Convention

Senwilliamproxmire2_1 A dead Senator, Wisconsin’s William Proxmire, who died just last year, left us with many legacies including the Golden Fleece Award for the most negligent and wasteful spending during his time in the Senate. But to the precise point of this administration, Proxmire said

“Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous.” 

Another example of the subject at hand is, of course, the infamous and oft repeated “we do not torture,” that our president boldly states in the face of thousands of photographs to the contrary, including at least a dozen deaths of prisoners in U.S. custody. This, in the face of his personal insistence upon legislation to clear all torture related indictments retroactively.

Thus, we need (as a matter of national security) retroactive legal protections from what we have not done.

Wow. Talk about ‘the way someone would hope it would be.’ When things that are hoped to be turn out not to be, they are quickly declared to be. We have Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld exercising their right to declare things true that are demonstrably untrue, then turning on their opponants and putting words in their mouths.

Then damning the words that have not been uttered, but declared to have been uttered.

Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Through the Looking Glass all served up to us in one neat package, ready for swallowing just five weeks before the mid-term elections. Which, in turn, begs a theological question.

What’s to be gained from being ‘born again’ if the result is metamorphosis from ineffectual drunk to incompetent autocrat? That process seems, at least when loosed upon an entire nation, to be a step backward instead of the hoped-for progress. As a drunk and a pothead, this president did very little damage.

Do you suppose his re-birth didn’t take?
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