Monday, December 13, 2004

Column 14: A Famous Victory

A Famous Victory
by Ed Gurowitz

Methinks Jim Clark doth protest too much. Since the election, the President’s supporters have been telling everyone who will listen that it “was a famous victory, much like the Battle celebrated in Southey’s poem:

"And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win."
"But what good came of it at last?"
Quoth little Peterkin.
"Why, that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory."

While Jim has the good grace to label it a “gloat fest,” his poking fun at the Democrats looking at how to present their issues in a way that will appeal to the public is a bit odd, coming from the party that coined ”Healthy Forests,” “Clean Air,” and “Partial Birth Abortion,” among others.

As the President purges his Cabinet of anyone who might disagree with him, he has asked Donald Rumsfeld to stay on, despite the fact that on December 3rd on Fox News (not exactly a bastion of liberalism) the Secretary admitted that he failed to predict the strength of the insurgency in Iraq, calling that failure and the failure to find WMD’s the “major mistakes” of the war. Then, in an astonishing about-face, the Secretary denied that more troops should have been sent to Iraq, again blaming “battlefield commanders” for asking for the number of troops that were sent. Way to support the troops, Don, and way to once again ignore that General Shinseki did say that more troops were needed and was fired for his trouble.

Oddly, the interview in question came a day after the Pentagon announced it was raising force levels in Iraq to the highest level since the invasion, ostensibly to increase security for the putative January elections – we’ll see if they come out on January 31.

We have here an Administration that would have us believe that that support, which is in most cases highly issue-specific, is support across the board. It is an Administration that lives by propaganda and the “big lie” tactic, whereby a distortion of the truth is repeated over and over on the assumption that people will come to believe it is the truth. Before the invasion we were told that the Iraqi people would welcome us as liberators – what we have now is a civil war aimed at defeating us and our internal allies. We were told that Saddam was connected to Al Qaeda. When overwhelming evidence is presented that there was no such connection, we are, in effect, asked whether we will believe the government like loyal Americans, or believe the evidence. We were told there were WMD’s, and now even Rumsfeld admits that there weren’t, and on and on.

So what are we to do? One of the most important things, I think, is to keep insisting on the truth in the face of the big lies. Condaleeza Rice is not the best choice for Secretary of State, she is someone who will agree with the President. Appointing African-Americans and Latinos to the cabinet does not show how unprejudiced this Administration is, it is window dressing. Donald Rumsfeld is not a good Secretary of Defense, he is an egotist who wants to remake the US military along principles that military experts find dubious, to say the least. Gay marriage will not damage heterosexual marriage, certainly not as much as a 50% divorce rate and 5-day celebrity marriages do. This is not a Christian (or Jewish or Moslem or Buddhist) country – it is a country founded on a clear separation between religion and secular life. And most importantly, criticizing the Administration and its policies is no way unpatriotic - America originated in dissent and debate and will thrive as long as these thrive.

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