Speaking recently at The Chataqua Institution (and reprinted here at HuffPost), New York Governor Elliot Spitzer extolled the virtues of humility and passion in the public arena, implicitly referencing the lack of the former and the overabundance of the latter in the White House. This is all well and good, and neatly places the man further on the national stage, a welcome relief to the current slate of polled to death spinmeisters grinning/grimacing and committing to/eluding some form of "responsible government" that we seem to deserve, or need, or expect from our future.
Reading the comments running below Spitzer's post, you'd think the man was the second coming of King/Gandhi/FDR/Niebuhr/(fill in your favorite idealized global intellectual). We have been so browbeaten for six years by a liar who can barely complete a sentence and still can't pronounce "nuclear," and an administration that criminally abuses even the idea of logic, you'd think the governor from New York had rewritten the O.E.D.
Elliot Spitzer is an eloquent and committed man, dedicated to the freedom, rights and quality of life of "the little guy," which is why he's potentially the best governor and the most exciting national political figure to emerge in years, and all of his domestic initiatives are right on -- not to mention an aggravating counterweight to the criminally immoral domestic abuse of Bush/Cheney/CorpUSA, but look at his reasoning on Iraq and foreign policy: it was "hubris" that did us in, a "lack of humility," a lack of will to combine diplomacy with our awesome power. This is absolute bullshit.
There was no mission in Iraq except to get the oil, destabilize the region, and build the world's largest militairy base smack in the center of the globe's biggest oil reserves. It had nothing to do with terrorism and nothing to do with spreading liberal democracy. It was a sheer, unadulterated criminal act and most of the world saw it as such, and it intensified both hatred and the terrorist threat for the United States.
To see it as mere human failure, a "misstep of arrogance" is to play the same childlike game Americans -- and, sadly, Democratic presidential candidates -- are incapable of quitting; the projection of one-dimensional parent-like morality onto their country and leaders; "The White House/America can't be bad because they're my Daddy, and Daddy is Good. So Daddy, must've made an honest/human/hubristic mistake."
Strip away all of Spitzer's lofty prep-school-speak and minister-quoting here and what you have is the current disastrous mainstream Democratic (i.e. Hillary) line: "we didn't go in there with a good enough plan, we didn't heed the advice of experts, we had faulty intelligence," etc-- all of which even your average suburban Christian Science Monitor reader knows is utter horseshit.
BushCo had a great plan and it's working perfectly and they're getting everything they wanted and they show no remorse and don't care about public or global disapproval; they didn't heed the advice of experts because it had nothing to do with why they were going in and would've stopped or slowed them down, which they weren't going to do no matter what; and we (and Blair) had great intelligence but we chose to ignore it, spin it, invent denials of it because we were going to go in anyway.
The truth is we shouldn't have gone in and had no right to. The million dead -- and four million displaced -- Iraqis are not collateral damage but in fact the goal of an invasion that wants to beat into submission a populace that doesn't want to be colonized, just as torture is not an "interrogation method to extract vital intelligence" but a way of terrifying civilians into not resisting. The absence of "hubris" wouldn't have prevented these events any more than the absence of Paxil would've prevented Tony Soprano from running a criminal and deadly enterprise.
The only real collateral damage in the whole ghastly invasion equation, sadly, are American GI's (and of course the private military contractors -- who outnumber U.S. forces -- that we never speak about), who, given the cuts in military health insurance, presidential boycotting of military funerals, the Walter Reed fiasco, and overextended combat tours with insufficient equipment, were clearly never as high a priority as all that oil. To talk about our "missteps" in bringing "the end of history" by installing liberal democracy to the region in the face of this massive human devastation is a moral abomination.
If Elliot wants to begin posturing himself for a national run, then so be it; but if he wants to do it invoking "change," he needs to stop mouthing the rhetorical denials of the other Democratic wimps and speak real truth to the national status quo he so despises: "We went in because our government was taken over by thieves who were already planning the invasion BEFORE 9/11, and what they did was illegal and immoral. We killed over a million people and displaced another four million. Change will come in American foreign policy when the status quo is dislodged and we admit these things and really tell the 'average Joe' public why we went in."
Until Spitzer -- or any other national political aspirant -- does this, he's just another mainstream contender, lacking the guts to say the unpopular truth so many Americans don't want explained to them: "this is why we're hated, and here's how we need to turn it around."
But health care for kids? More money for schoolteachers? Clean up the air and water? Great. Who could say no, and how sad is it that these basics of human dignity seem like radical ideas?
If you want to challenge the national status quo though, the first thing you need to do is reject pleasing Daddy, and not hide behind rhetorical games that protect you from pointing a finger at the king who stands there naked.