Monday, May 7, 2007

If Only There Were But Three Stooges

Or, observe the circular firing squad!
by Charlie Leck

Writing with as much wisdom, logic and perception as any writer in America right now, Frank Rich is a pleasure to read. In addition to his solid intelligence, he is a darned good word-smith. He’s a New York Times columnist and those of you who have him available in your local newspapers, and don’t boycott his employer because you think that newspaper is far too liberal, ought to read him regularly. I find him infuriating sometimes because he holds opinions contrary to mine. If you think he leans left, I think you are wrong. The man is a true moderate.

If I were someone trying to understand what is really happening in Washington politics and in this administration and its foreign policy, Rich is the writer I would read. When he says something, he almost always backs it up with clear evidence and/or supporting documentation.

This Sunday morning I followed my usual procedure of sitting for an hour or so with the Internet version of the New York Times. It’s a pleasure I have to pay for since most of the on-line Times is restricted to their paying subscribers. It’s a treat I consider well worth it and I rise very early in the morning so I will have plenty of quiet time to work my way through this massive publication.

Rich wanted to call his column “The Three Stooges;” however he couldn’t limit the number of idiots within the administration to just three.

Bremer, Paul
Bush, George W. (President)
Cheney, Richard (Vice President)
Feith, Douglas
Franks, Tommy (General)
Rice, Condoleezza
Rumsfeld, Donald
Tennant, George
Wolfowitz, Paul

Rich calls it a “circular firing squad of the war’s enablers.” I can’t tell if he includes Condi Rice, our esteemed Secretary of State, in this circle of goof-balls. His standard seems to be that these guys all finally figured out that the war in Iraq was a great, catastrophic mistake, but they are too spineless to admit it. He points out that the only member of the inner circle to show such courage was Matthew Dowd, a Dick Cheny aide, “who in March expressed remorse for furthering a war he now deems a mistake.” For his admission, Dowd was characterized by the administration as a mental case who couldn’t stand the pressure of war.

Somehow Colin Powell escapes inclusion in the circle of fools. There’s no doubt that Powell was so admired, as both a General and as Secretary of State, that we all want to believe he was simply used by the idiots to make a case for this war. Rich, however, saves a poignant, deserving comment about Powell

“Nonetheless, Mr. Powell should summon the guts to do so [take some responsibility for the mistakes that led to this war]. Until there is accountability for the major architects and perpetrators of the Iraq war, the quagmire will deepen. A tragedy of this scale demands a full accounting, not to mention a catharsis.”

Rich mines deeply in this column. He includes references and citations to everything he says.

The columnist saves his heavy guns for Condoleezza Rice. She tries to escape the truth of her involvement in promoting this war as just and necessary. She can’t. There are too many statements of record out there. In January this year, Rice was promising us that "over the next two to three months" Iraq will move forward on several significant fronts, including approving an oil revenue-sharing law; reversing the de-Baathificaion laws;... and reforming the country's constitution." Uh? What? None of these has been achieved or is close to being achieved 4 months later. As National Security Advisor, Rice helped sell this war and she needs to be held responsible as much as anyone.

And only this past week did President Bush continue the appeal that the war was against "the perpetrators of our 9/11 disaster." There is hardly anyone left in America foolish enough to believe that canard.

“The decision we face in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday, “is not whether we ought to take sides in a civil war, it’s whether we stay in the fight against the same international terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11.”

"Such statements about the present in Iraq are no less deceptive — and no less damaging to our national interest — than the lies about uranium and Qaeda- 9/11 connections told in 2002-3. This country needs facts, not fiction, to make its decisions about the endgame of the war, just as it needed (but didn’t get) facts when we went to war in the first place. To settle for less is to make the same tragic error twice."

I find it amazing – utterly astonishing – that members of the administration don’t understand that they have a responsibility to present a full accounting to Congress, and thus to the American people, of the steps that led up to this war. Instead, they continue to stonewall and utter nonsense about “Separation of Powers.”

As Rich wrote:
“If former or incumbent national security advisers like Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski could testify before Congress without defiling the Constitution, so can she.”
In another column in the Sunday New York Times, a guest columnist, George Prochnik, wrote:

“Near the conclusion of “Civilization and Its Discontents,” Freud wrote, 'One thing only do I know for certain and that is that man’s judgments of value follow directly his wishes for happiness — that, accordingly, they are an attempt to support his illusions with arguments.' Be afraid of the leader who refuses to look in the mirror, Freud argued — or, he might have added, the one who says he won’t 'go on the couch' to reflect upon earlier policy decisions, as President Bush memorably declared in 2004.”
That, my friends, says it all about these incredible stooges.

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