Watching the MSNBC triumvirate of Matthews, Olbermann and Maddow these past Monday and Tuesday nights, I saw a number of clips that... well, made me angry. When I'm usually so serene.
First there was the clip from a recent interview Bush gave on ABC, as part of what many are calling his "Victory Tour" (celebrating and "explaining" how great he's been).
The interviewer asks Bush about Iraq and his legacy and what he thinks it all means. Bush listens to the question with a very happy smile on his face, and says he had to keep the country safe, then quickly gets to:
One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take...
But the interviewer interrupts him with "But not until after the U.S. invaded."
Bush looks disoriented by the question, blinks his eyes repeatedly, semi-stammers and says vaguely,
Yeah... that's right. So what?
"So what?" Wow. Great answer, huh?
And then in a clip from an interview with our usually invisible vice-president, Cheney is asked about Iraq, and is confronted with the fact that 2/3s of the country have concluded that the war in Iraq was not worth doing. Cheney's answer:
Bush: So what? Cheney: So?
After Cheney's "So?", the interviewer says "So you're not... you don't care what the American people think?"
No, I don't. I live in a hermetically sealed universe, I only hear the sound of my own voice, and if everyone in the universe was against me, I would still impose my view on the world, as I long as I had the power. And for much of this administration, I had the power. So fuck you and the American people. And Patrick Leahy too!
Actually, my quote above is a bit inaccurate. What he really said was:
No I think you cannot be ... um, blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. There has in fact been fundamental change and transformation and improvement for the better. That's a huge accomplishment.
Fluctuations in the public polls.
True, most people were for the war when Bush-Cheney-Rice talked about mushroom clouds and pushed "we're in danger, we're in danger!" Then when there were no weapons of mass destruction or nuclear program and Iraq seemed way more complicated than had ever been presented to the American people, many turned against the war.
This wasn't a FLUCTUATION. It was a CHANGE. We were "sold" the war as one thing, and it turned out to be ... an expensive, draining quagmire that created more terrorists. Are we occupied by a Muslim army? No. Is Iraq occupied by an American army? Yes. Good recruiting tool, that.
Bush and Cheney have been so proud saying they don't let political polls affect them. And I admit there can be a danger in always following popular opinion. However, war should be a last resort for real, which this one wasn't. And you can't wage a war in a democracy if 2/3s of the citizens don't want to be part of it.
On Tuesday night Cheney showed up in more ABC interview clips. Karl Rove recently said that if Bush had known there were no weapons of mass destruction, he would not have invaded Iraq.
Cheney disagreed. He said the mere fact that Saddam had the CAPABILITY of creating weapons was enough of a reason go to war.
Pre-emptive war, after all, is about a guessed at "what if," where we have the hubris to say we can see the future and are willing to bomb people and maim them because we're so certain our assumptions are accurate. Just like our assumptions were 100% sure there were vast weapons in Iraq and they even knew where they were. And we knew that either by talking to Chalabi or by calling 1-800-PSYCHIC.
And in a different clip on Tuesday, Cheney admits to having approved waterboarding and having helped pave the way for the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," otherwise known as torture.
Rachel Maddow pointed out that after World War II, the Japanese who used waterboarding on our troops were put to death with America's approval. I guess it's only torture when someone else does it, not us.
And how good is waterboarding in getting actual information? We've never been given any actual examples.
If we could get Dick Cheney to agree to be waterboarded on, say, 60 Minutes, what do you think we could make him say? If the waterboarding just wouldn't stop until he said things we wanted him to - such as "I slept with Laura Bush" or "I enjoy watching people be tortured" or "9/11 was a plot Bush and I cooked up to justify our invading Iraq" - don't you think he would eventually say what was demanded of him? And if so, in what way is it a good technique?
One more interview quote, and then a wrap up.
Keith Olbermann showed a clip I hadn't seen elsewhere related to the shoes being thrown at Bush in Iraq a couple of days ago.
As you know, an Iraqi journalist named Muntazer al-Zaidi, 29, threw two shoes at Bush during the Bush-Maliki press conference. We all saw Bush duck over and over, but Olberman showed a clip from yet another ABC interview most of us haven't seen. The interview asked Bush about his reaction to the shoe being thrown at him.
Before I give the quote, I want to remind you what the translators say the man shouted in Arabic at Bush.
With shoe #1, he shouted "This is a gift from the Iraqis, this is the farewell kiss, you dog!"
With shoe #2, he shouted "This is from the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq." (This second quote I did not hear on any "regular" news programs.)
So a day or so after the incident, Bush was interviewed on ABC and was asked his reaction to the shoe throwing incident.
He said this:
I thought it was interesting, I thought it was weird, I thought it was unusual to have a guy thow a shoe at you. But, uh...I ...I'm not insulted, I don't hold it against the government, I don't think the Iraqi press corps as a whole is terrible...and so... The guy wanted to get on tv, and he did. I don't know what his beef is. Uh, but ... whatever it is, I'm sure, you know, somebody will hear it. (then he smiles, aware of his inexhaustible charm)
"The guy wanted to get on tv." "I'm don't know what his beef is." "I'm sure...somebody will hear it." But not me.
Do you think Bush is too incurious to ask what was yelled at him?
Mr. Bush, foisted upon the country by a Republican party who sold him like soap not caring if he was an idiot, is profoundly disconnected from reality. His world is not reality-based, it is not faith-based, it is Bush-based... he's the narcissistic, spoiled rich kid who bankrupted the country with his credit card, and for Christmas he wanted not a sled but a big whopping war.
Even if you agreed with Bush's belief that he "had" to invade Iraq to protect the county, can he have no empathy for another person? Even if he thinks the man's position is wrong, still imagine - if some country took over our government and killed over 100,000 of our civilians as so-called "collateral damage," we would be angry.
But that requires empathy, and America's pinheaded view of patriotism doesn't encourage that. How about a nice chant of "USA! USA!" followed by "DRILL, BABY, DRILL." Any takers?
Is this Bush bashing? Am I stuck in the past?
Those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat it.
You know, I do get it - the American public doesn't want Obama to enter office talking about investigating the crimes and semi-crimes committed by this administration.
The American public DOES want to move forward, and we're all worried/traumatized about the economy and the damage done to it and us by the Wizards of Wall Street. And we're finally worried about energy and global warming and getting out of Iraq. (And let's please DISCUSS the escalation planned in Afghanistan. Is it winnable? Can we have a plan?)
But all this desire to move forward aside, we cannot just ignore what happened. Maybe we need to leave Obama out of it, and get Senator Levin and Congressman Waxman to methodically begin investigating wrong-doing in the Bush administration. Maybe Bush-Cheney can be impeached after the fact. Or if nothing else, they should be censured, after the fact.
On Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow had constitutional expert Jonathan Turley on her show, discussing the Senate Armed Services Committee report that found unamiously (Dems and Repubs both) that Rumsfeld and others were the architects and the enablers of what happened at Abu Graihb. A story which is not much discussed.
Turley said this (I quote from Crooks and Liars):
We have third world countries that when they have found that their leaders committed torture war crimes, they prosecuted them. But the most successful democracy in history is just, I think, about to see war crimes, do nothing about it. And that's an indictment not just of George Bush and his administration. It's the indictment of all of us if we walk away from a clear war crime and say it's time for another commission.
Will we ignore the significant wrong-doing done in this administration? Will we end up with our own "So what?" and "So?"
I say we mustn't. There must be accountability.