Surrealpolitic for surreal times.: This Round's On Me, Mr. President!


This Round's On Me, Mr. President!

Who gave the President Truth Pills? Well, maybe not "entire truth" pills. Karl Rove is still in control of the medicine cabinet to which Mr. Cheney presides. But there is a whiff of honesty coming from the President and it smells like Eau de Strategy with just a base note of desperation. The President did something today that, to my knowledge, he has never done in a press conference. He spoke to the American people as though he respected them. As though he had that elusive political characteristic: "someone you could have a beer with".

After 9/11, The Bush Administration had a free pass for several months to make a case against any nation it found responsible. They chose Afghanistan, which was the right country because the Taliban (Afghanistan's then ruling party) were harboring Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, we had more than one enemy abroad and the Administration had perhaps another year to start a war before the national elections. So out came images of mushroom clouds and anthrax vials in the U.N. General Assembly. Out came falsified documents and punitive outings of C.I.A. agents. Out came the hew and cry of the "un-patriot", the "like it or leave it" jingoist slogans. And out came the arrogance of an Administration that didn't just refuse to listen to polls, but also their generals, their intelligence agencies and the international community. And then, out came the war.

What I find so odd about the Administration's failure to listen to anyone or to concern themselves with what other people thought, was the great possibility that if they were honest in the first place, we would have actually supported the endeavor. Not everyone, of course, but a lot more than 40%. I don't think anyone with even a fourth grade education believes that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, yet that's how the Administration spoke to us.

I will be honest. I was for the invasion of Iraq. But I wanted it done correctly. I wanted the United States to overthrow a dictator (who we installed, I know), and to threaten anyone in the region from ever attacking us again. And I believe that's what the Bush plan was. (Of course Dick Cheney's friends who have made untold profits had their own agenda, but in war, the vermin feed especially well.) The Administration wanted to threaten Iran, Syria and anyone else who wanted to assist in attacking our cities. And is that a bad idea considering what we've gone through? I say it is not.

So now, instead of hearing sixteen blatantly false words about Iraq and nuclear proliferation in the State of the Union, we have a press conference in which the following exchange occurs:

Bush: The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East. They were ...

Reporter: What did Iraq have to do with ... The attacks upon the World Trade Center?

Bush: Nothing. Except for it's part of - and nobody's ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. ... The lesson of September the 11th is: Take threats before they fully materialize. Nobody's ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. Now I said, going into Iraq, We've got to take these threats seriously before they full materialize. I saw a threat.

Okay, so the prescription for truth got mixed a little with the "revisionist history" medication. "I saw a threat" is a hell of a lot different from "We know that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction." And to say that nobody's ever "suggested in his administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack" when Dick Cheney was reportedly said to have asked the C.I.A. to provide him with evidence linking Iraq with 9/11 is just silly. I still think his Administration has broken more laws since, well, anyone. But at the very least he's admitting, finally, the truth as to why we invaded Iraq. It's not much, but it's a start. If he keeps this up, I may have a beer with him.


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