Saturday, December 17, 2005

Lashing Out

So, Bush, I hear you're lashing out today at lawmakers who dared to rebuke you for your secret authorization of the wiretapping of American citizens to protect us all from terrorism. Not a good week's end for you, I guess. You must be mortified: at precisely the moment when you expected to be able to crow about the success of the Iraq elections, you're forced instead to dine on crow with John McCain at the White House, having failed to cram your torture program down the throats of the Congress and the American people. Now your attempt to renew the horribly misnamed Patriot Act has been foiled by a strong Senate vote, and all you can think to do is lash out, once again, in an attempt to discredit thoughtful men and women who opposed you. Not a good week's end, Bush. Not at all. The irony is that your strong words serve only to make you sound weaker.

Re: that election, by the way. I'm delighted that it went so well. I'm delighted that the Sunnis joined in. I do hope that it proves to be the turning point, as you so stridently claimed a couple of days ago. I do hope that it leads to a stronger sense of the common good, to greater security, a more reliable social infrastructure to the benefit of those suffering citizens; and, of course, to a peaceable resolution of religious and political differences. I hope it unites the various factions against the insurgency, and provides the ground for a mutually tolerant society. This would be the truly desirable outcome of your adventure there.

Would it all then have been worth it, should all these outcomes be achieved? Would it have been worth the loss of American credibility in the world, the renewal of emnities in the Arab world, the lasting hostility--not to mention the loss of life, the cost? Would it prove that yours was the only or the best way to undermine the dreadful dictatorship of Saddam Hussein? Or conduct your war on terrorism? I think not. And you know, Bush, I might--just might--have been tempted to give you a bit more credit, at least for the demise of the despicable Saddam, had you not made such an appalling hash of the whole affair. Had you not shot from the hip, blissfully heedless of the complex social, political, and relgious consequences of your action. Had you made less arrogant assumptions about your power, your military strength, and your moral rectitude.

All in all, though, I think the American people now realize that the answer is a resounding No. It was not worth it. AND it was hopelessly mishandled. AND that the prospects for all those potential outcomes remain dim. AND that as a country we are much diminished by it. We have lost any moral high ground that we might have held.

Not a good week's end, Bush. Be well.

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