Monday, May 28, 2007

"A Rich Tradition."

(Crossposted at Welcome to Pottersville.)

To recap: On Memorial Day, May 28, 2007, George W. Bush said that soldiers dying in foreign wars was “a rich tradition” (like throwing out the first pitch, say, on Opening Day or the groom removing his bride's garter) and that going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was part of our nation’s destiny. At the Tomb of the Unknowns, Bush also seemed to take to heart 174 Marines who supposedly asked to have their enlistments extended and that it seemed to validate for him the stop-lossing of already weary troops who are getting killed in record numbers because they are exhausted and burnt-out.

In “honoring” our war dead today, Bush almost completely ignored those who had died in other wars from the Revolutionary war all the way down to Operation Desert Storm as if his failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the nearly 3800 who have died in both campaigns, are the only ones that count. But, of course, George Bush, the consummate propagandist and opportunist, will take any and all opportunities to catapult the propaganda still being lapped up with alacrity by the 27% of the dead-enders.

The picture above, which dwarves Bush against a huge American flag backdrop, is symbolic to me personally of his diminished stature in contrast to the much vaster nation, the Constitution, that he’d sworn two times to defend and has done anything but.

Deb Reichmann underscores this self-serving speech with the following paragraph:

As people across the country marked the day of remembrance, violence continued in Iraq where a suicide car bomber struck a busy commercial district in central Baghdad, killing at least 21 people and damaging a shrine revered by Sunnis and Shiites alike.

Nothing is sacred in Iraq, anymore, not even the religion that will never be completely separated from whatever government is foisted off on them. Just as nothing is sacred in the United States, anymore. Not informed dissent, not the war dead, not the Constitution itself. And certainly not the troops who, unlike George Bush, are legitimately trying to help the Iraqi people and are getting killed by the Iraqi army itself by way of thanks. Ingratitude, indeed.

I have to admit, I’m liking Andrew Sullivan more and more these days. While I don’t see him becoming a liberal any time soon, the Johnny Come Lately Sullivan is nonetheless one of the most astute critics of this administration. In a very good post yesterday, Sullivan takes a reader’s cue and vastly expands and improves upon a post he’d done earlier in the day about Dick Cheney’s address at West Point, one intended, typically, to not send off the newly-minted officers with a message of hope and optimism but to be yet another commercial for a product that’s about as easy to sell these days as jack hammers in a leper colony.

As yet another indication that he holds nothing sacred but the administration’s corrupt, self-serving agenda, Cheney essentially sneered at the Constitution as well as the Geneva Convention because the terrorists will want to hide behind them. That may be true enough, is as Cheney’s appraisal of terrorists.

But Cheney, as with Bush, as with all neocons who openly despise the Constitution and government in general, has supplanted defending the nation itself with the defense of the obstructionist Constitution. The plain fact is, as Sullivan says,
Cheney seems to believe that the military and the president have taken oaths to defend American lives and American territory and American interests. But of course, presidents and vice-presidents and U.S. servicemembers take no such oath. Servicemembers take the following oath:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

As Sullivan indicates, Cheney, as well as Bush, never seemed to have grasped the basic, inescapable fact that if you defend the Constitution as either a statesman or a service member, the Constitution will take care of America.

But nothing, as I’d said, is sacred except for party loyalty and ideology.

And for all their overtures about caring for the troops moreso than the Republicans, the Democrats had rejected a larger voter mandate than George W. Bush ever got from either rigged election perhaps because they didn’t want to be bad-talked by Bush and his loyalists while they went on summer vacation.

Sending Bush a war spending bill without even nonbinding troop withdrawal timelines was in itself a self-fulfilling prophecy: The GOP has been charging the Democrats with stranding the troops and that’s exactly what they did rather than sending Bush the bill back untouched and increasing the pressure on the White House to sign it.

Paul Krugman was right in saying that these troops are being held hostage by an administration cynical enough to use them for partisan gain and support for a war that vast numbers of people, including the troops themselves, seem to forget never should’ve been started and fought.

By this time next year, Bush will be laying down a wreath at Arlington for 4200-4300 fallen troops and we will hear the same platitudes, reductionist lies and monstrously ironic statements that we’d heard today. No one ever said that a President has to be a war veteran in order to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

But as with the big, ever-present American flag that follows George Bush like an ignored conscience and dwarfing him, the sight of this Vietnam draft-dodging Pretender essaying gravitas and solemnity at the Tomb of actual soldiers who had actually served only underscores the illegitimacy of this administration and the war with which it’s completely draped like a flag on a coffin.