Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rumsfeld, Pace, Abizaid and the US Senate Armed Services Committee

I've been listening to the three of them testifying for the last couple of hours on C-SPAN. What's interesting to me is the near total absence of the usual partisanship that characterizes these things. There is, at best, very tepid Republican "sunshine pumping" of the witnesses as so often happens. If you've ever watched these things, you've seen it. Folks like Orrin Hatch asking questions that are not so much questions as thinly veiled proselytizing..."Isn't it true, general, that you were doing an admirable job of trying to prosecute this war as best as you could, given this Congress's unwillingness to support the requests of the president and his administration blah blah blah...."

Perhaps the toughest questioning of the day (at least so far) came from John McCain, who characterized our movements of troops from one unstable location to another, more unstable location within Iraq as "whack-a-mole," and, expectedly, from Hilary Clinton, who excoriated Rumsfeld (brilliantly, in my opinion), and appropriately referred to our policy in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "fiasco". God, I love this stuff!

Interesting statistic came up in Ted Kennedy's questioning. He pointed out that we've now been in Iraq 40 months and 13 days, over 2,500 US soldiers and marines dead, thousands more wounded. He went on to recap the length of the Korean War, WWI, WWII, Persian Gulf I, and I don't recall now which others. ALL were over in barely more than the time we've spent so far in Iraq, and both Abizaid and Pace indicated that the current situation could easily devolve into civil war. It boggles the mind that with the most sophisticated, powerful military the world has seen, ever, we've managed to screw this up so badly. But, I guess it's symptomatic of this administration. Remember, this is the president who gloated in his commencement address at his alma mater about having been a C student ("Most important, congratulations to the class of 2001. To those of you who received honors, awards, and distinctions, I say, well done. And to the C students–I say, you, too, can be President of the United States. A Yale degree is worth a lot, as I often remind Dick Cheney–who studied here, but left a little early. So now we know–if you graduate from Yale, you become President. If you drop out, you get to be Vice President"...what a fucking moron...).

I've lived now through nine presidents in my lifetime, so far. I was a child when Kennedy managed the Cuban missile crisis, and when he was assasinated, grew up during VietNam and the civil rights movement. I came of age, politically, during Watergate. I lived through Ronald Reagan's 8-year acting job (a shining city on a hill, with record unemployment, the largest budget deficits in history -- until this moron -- and a general sell-job of morning in America, when America had never been worse in my lifetime), Bush 41's pathetic stewardship...

Many people have nothing charitable to say about Bill Clinton. No, he was no paragon of moral virtue, but two things are true about that:
  • Firstly, we don't live in a theocracy, and I, for one, do not seek moral leadership from my political leaders. I expect them to fight dirty, if need be, lie cheat and steal if necessary, and do everything possible to improve our civic lot. A blowjob in the oval office may be cause for a rebuke, may be cause for a divorce (though that is COMPLETELY a personal matter between husband and wife, and nobody else's business), may be cause to turn him out of office, but it is NOT reason for impeachment.
  • Secondly, it was positively Shakespearean watching the most egregious group of philanderers and adulterers in memory trying to prosecute him for far, far less than what they, apparently, were guilty of themselves. It was beautiful seeing Gingrich, Livingston, Hyde, and others all wither away and fade from view, and it was poetic justice that Larry Flynt was the one to bring them down, revealing their own infidelities and hypocrisy. Rehnquist looked like a punch drunk football coach, rather than a wise and impartial dispenser of justice, the highest legal authority in the land. What an embarassment!

This much is absolutely true of Bill Clinton. Never, in my 46 years, has this country been in better shape, better respected around the world (and of this, I know a little, as I travel extensively for work, and I actually meet and talk to people in other countries, so I'm not simply blowing hot air here). At the end of Clinton I and II, years of record deficits had been transformed into the first budget surplus in my lifetime. As an American, I traveled the world with my head held high and proud. Today, when I travel, the dollar is weaker than it's ever been. In most countries, merchants who five or six years ago would not only accept American dollars, but preferred them to their own local currency now categorically refuse to accept dollars. Cab drivers, hotel staff, colleagues from my own company, customers, people you meet on the street, in restaurants, in bars, pubs, wherever you meet them, all have something to say about the US, and mostly it is not charitable. Not only can you not travel with impugnity as an American anymore, you have to constantly be alert and watch your back. What a difference a few years of gross imcompetence can make...

It is simply amazing to me how quickly one moron and his minions of morons could dismantle all of the great work done by the previous administration, and, frankly, by 70+ years worth of inspired leadership from both parties. Bush II is an unmitigated disaster, and it is an injustice of mythic proportion that one can only hope that history will judge him, as we seem incapable of judging him ourselves. His tenure in office will be seen, I believe, as an 8-year joke, the nadir of American political history. Hard to imagine that someone could make Herbert Hoover look like an inspired leader...

But I rant...and it's just my opinion...I could be wrong!

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