Friday, May 04, 2007
Mendacity of Show, Litany of Woe
Four years ago this week, an unelected president strode across an aircraft carrier in an unearned Navy flight suit for an expensive photo op beneath a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.” I’m trying to think if I’ve ever witnessed a more insulting, absurd image of a U.S. president. Hoover with his fat-cat cronies during the Depression? Pretty bad. Nixon’s V-for-victory exit from office? Cartoonish enough to laugh at, and good riddance. Carter's interview in Playboy magazine? Foolish, but he seemed human. Bush the first’s Japanese vomit? At least it was vomit of necessity, not choice. Reagan fumbling his way through a remark about trees causing air pollution? OK, he was already losing it. Clinton’s “I did not have sex...” posturing? Doesn’t even come (so to speak) close.
The fake flyboy strut. It’s like an x-ray of Bush’s psyche. Who do we see? A privileged juvenile delinquent acting out in a mendacious show-off stunt to prove himself half the man Daddy was. It’s as undeveloped an idea of leadership, masculinity, and adulthood as I’ve ever seen.
And the media served it to us like ice cream. And a lot of people slurped it right up. If you ever want a clear picture of just how bad American journalism has gotten in the 21st century, look back at the response to the Mission Accomplished moment. It’s horrifying. The right-wing media practically creamed its Sans-a-belt slacks. And few in the mainstream press held Bush to account.
Since that clueless display (remember, we paid for the aircraft carrier to turn around so the shoreline wouldn't show?), think of what has taken place:
Iraqi Army disbanded, left to its own devices (mostly IEDs) to create the insurgency
Weapons storage facilities left unguarded, emptied by insurgents
Unsecured borders allowing thousands of jihadists, mercenaries, and fun-loving terrorists into Iraq
Oh, and the denial that the White House had anything to do with that Mission Accomplished banner...
and then the retraction of the denial when expense reports showed that Karl Rove’s office paid for it
U.S. soldiers in combat without proper equipment, armor, etc.--and now with less training than ever
Rumsfeld’s “you go to war with the army you have”
No WMD’s after all--ooops, my bad!
Turns out Wolfowitz was wrong about oil money paying for reconstruction, too
Fallujah becomes a template for how NOT to take a city
The rise of Muktada al-Sadr and other fundamentalist elements
Alberto Gonzales murky torture-condoning memo
Rumsfeld "forgot to bring" chain-of-command chart to Abu Ghraib hearings
Scapegoating of grunts for the scandal
Richard Perle and other administration war profiteers resign due to conflict of interest
No-bid contract scandal
Billions in reconstruction money go missing
Huge cost overruns by Halliburton, KBR, and other contractors found to be misappropriating funds
Pentagon hiring private soldiers of fortune who earn vastly more than U.S. military salaries
Denial of CIA black sites in Europe and Asia...
and retraction of denial!
Dick Cheney, ever the brilliant analyst: “The insurgency is in its last throes”
Dissenting voices in administration (Richard Clarke, Colin Powell, etc.) silenced or marginalized
Dissenting military commanders (e.g., Zinni, Shinseki) fired or sidelined
George Tenet and J. Paul Bremer bought off with Medal of Freedom
Fake stories planted in the press to make Jessica Lynch a hero
Fake stories planted to make Pat Tillman a Christian martyr and Bush loyalist
Fake journalists planted in press briefings
Fake Maliki government by 2007 has failed to secure a single province
Govt report finds DOD's Douglas Feith developed bogus intelligence to link Iraq and al Qaeda
Condi Rice, having ignored pre-9/ll intelligence about Osama, fails upward into Sec. of State job
Continued denials from Cheney et al. that it’s a civil war...
and finally a recognition that it’s a civil war
Iraq Study Group convened
Iraq Study Group recommendations ignored
McCain and others walk Baghdad in body armor with huge security detail and proclaim the streets safe
Iraqi parliament bombed
Taliban resurgent in under-resourced war in Afghanistan
New study shows seven out of eight “finished” reconstruction projects either relapsing into unusable state or still awaiting equipment, construction, etc.
Saudi Arabia and other Mideast allies begin to defy U.S., with Prince Bandar about as reliable as Chalabi was in lead-up to war
Military allies (what few we had) peeling off and pulling out
Pushing toward 3500 American dead
Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed
J. Walter Reed scandal
Tours of duty extended
Repeat tours increased
Veteran disability benefits slashed
Prisoners held for years without charge or legal recourse
Osama still at large
And Bush talking shit about Iran
I consulted no published lists to arrive at this godawful pile of national shame. It’s not ordered or comprehensive, just what I could pull off the top of my head as a reader of the news. I’m sure there are many other events that should be listed here. Feel free to contribute.
Fine, throw in the election (see note on the fake Maliki government) or Saddam (whose botched execution compounded our international PR problem). Why put lipstick on a warthog?
When I go down that list, I feel fury boiling up. I’m just so disgusted by these short-sighted, greedy ideologues who looked at the post-9/ll world and decided it was a ticket to empire, while lacking the imagination, skill, and integrity to manage even the first fraction of the effort. Killing, maiming, spending us into oblivion, all the while ignoring the needs of our own citizens. Think of all we might have done here if if not for the time, money, and energy spent there. And for what?
My friend Kristin says, don’t hate them, because then you’re at their level. You have to love Bush and Cheney and Rove, she says. You have to hope for their evolution as human beings.
I know she's right. But all I seem capable of is loathing and despair. I hate what’s been done to my country, by my country, in the name of my country. It’s going to take years and years to undo it. And they’re not through yet.