People are said to get the government they deserve. But what have the American people done to deserve the one we have? Were a majority of the electorate simply overwhelmed by events on 9/11 and, cowed subsequently by daily doses of fear from a manipulative regime? Did everything really change on that fateful day? Did the unimaginable become the basis for the willing suspension of disbelief among a fearful populace, allowing a duplicitous leadership to undermine who we are as a country?
What has in fact changed radically is that, in the course of formulating policies in the guise of promoting national security and spreading democracy to unlikely places, the president and his partisan conspirators have worked to turn the country into a bastion of ideological protocols. We may have been frightened and foolish in the aftermath of the attack on our homeland and placed our faith too uncritically in self-proclaimed protectors. But surely we did not deserve to be governed by the incompetent, political cronies who have filled this administration’s rosters.
That many of us fell for the trumped-up connection between Iraq and 9/11 or were hypnotized by tales of WMD may have been naiveté. But just because we trusted unworthy leaders did we deserve to be plunged into a violent dead-end war based on false premises? It’s hard to say what the average American can do when leaders make bad decisions except to deliver a message at the polls – – in this case to an unreceptive president. As casualties rise, the question continually asked is “what would victory look like?” And the answer seems to be, nobody knows.
No doubt fresh from a dose of right-wing talk radio true believers belligerently inquire “have people forgotten 9/11?” Well of course they haven’t, but how did we end up in a war that has diminished our standing in the world, caused enormous casualties and committed billions of taxpayer dollars for ill-defined goals? And a talking point from Rush Limbaugh devotees, no doubt, is that there are more traffic deaths and murders in the United States in a year than there have been in Iraq to date. One statistic, of which these folks seem unaware, however, is that there are many thousands of living casualties – – veterans who will need special care the rest of their lives due to amputations, blindness, or severe mental conditions resulting from their war-time experiences.
One thing is increasingly clear despite early denials from the administration and others. Our involvement in the Middle East is definitely all about oil. On the campaign trail before the recent elections, the president let it slip that it was a grave concern that were we to lose our footing in Iraq a Muslim dictator might have us in an energy strangle hold. And sometimes it is suggested that gas prices could rise to $6 or more if the wrong people controlled oil resources. Doesn’t it sound just a little bit odd, that we should question a nation’s right to control its own land and the oil that lies beneath it?
But odd things happen all the time these days. We have an administration unconcerned about the vast majority of its citizens, that cements its authority and power by factionalizing the population and selling itself to divisive partisan groups. Obviously the policies and agendas of political parties differ, but promoting the general welfare should remain at the core of governmental decisions. This does not seem to be the motivating factor with a White House that continues to push narrow, right-wing court appointees and officials ill-equipped to serve in a time of complex international relationships and a challenging economic landscape. With an electorate so evenly divided it is disturbing that this president chooses not to be the uniter he once claimed to be.
President Bush seems to have misplaced his job description. Members of Congress may serve a hometown constituency, but the country’s Commander and Chief is supposed to serve us all. He shouldn’t mimic his handlers by referring to the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party. And when U. N. ambassador John Bolton, a recess appointment, stepped down instead of facing another possible rejection when Congress reconvenes in January, the president accused Democrats of de-railing his nomination even though there were dissenters on both sides of the aisle. Bolton, whatever his attributes, hardly seems to fit most definitions of a diplomat, one trait a U.N. Ambassador should possess one would think.
It is hard to imagine that this president intends to share the decision-making process with Democrats he refers to so often as obstructionists – – meaning of course that they haven’t walked in lock step with him on every issue and all nominations. There is a frightening example in Iraq of what happens when religious and political factions fail to coalesce for the good of their country. It is a lesson the president should take to heart.

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