I request your indulgence, at the outset, for my usage of indiscreet Bush/Cheney-talk. But, when President Bush recommended Iraq's "democracy" to President Putin last Saturday, I was reminded of Bush's remark to Dick Cheney about New York Times writer, Adam Clymer. Bush said, "There's Adam Clymer - major league asshole - from the New York Times." Cheney responded, "Yeah, big time." [Jake Tapper, Salon.com, Sept. 04, 2000] Thanks to their indiscretion, the whole world knows that Bush and Cheney are not above labeling people as "MLAs."
Unfortunately, after five years of gross misrule by the Bush administration, we now know that - from the neocons and the former head of FEMA to our very top "leaders" - this administration has been overpopulated with MLAs. Events during this past weekend only reinforced the evidence.
First, after hearing Bush's asinine assertion, "I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq where's there's a free press and free religion and I told him [President Putin] that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing," a version of Bush's very own usage came to mind: "There's George W. Bush - major league asshole - in St. Petersburg as President of the United States of America."
President Putin probably doesn't remember Bush's "MLA" incident. Which explains why he simply stilettoed Bush with the following verbal shiv: "We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, I will tell you quite honestly."
Had he wanted to be candid, Mr. Putin might have suggested that for Bush to talk about his "desire to promote institutional change" in Iraq -- after actually having set in motion the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis in order to compel democracy there at the point of a gun -- was to engage in egregiously dishonest Orwellian euphemism.
Had he wanted to be candid, Mr. Putin might have said that Russia's democracy will never permit the type of religious freedom, which in Iraq today fosters sectarian violence and civil war - and where Shiites and Sunnis dare to behead teenage girls and sew dogs' heads on their carcasses.
Had he wanted to be candid, Mr. Putin might have asked President Bush whether he understood the difference between democratic institutions and liberal democracy (although that question might have struck too uncomfortably close to Putin's home).
Finally, had Putin wanted to be devilish, he might have asked Mr. Bush to recommend the scholarly book or books that persuaded him to believe that he could bring democracy to Iraq. Then, we would have seen Mr. Bush at his big time "MLA" finest.
Not to be outdone as a MLA this weekend, however, was our not-ready-for-prime-time Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Her MLA credentials were solidified after her astoundingly asinine response to concrete evidence that forever convicts Vice President Cheney as a MLA. Here's the double-barreled "smoking gun," as it were, from ABC's This Week with George Stephaopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But before the war in Iraq many argued that going into Iraq would stir up a hornet's nest. The administration strongly disagreed and here's what Vice President Cheney had to say in August 2002.
CHENEY (VIDEO): I believe the opposite is true. Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region, extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad, moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli/Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Extremists now appear to have been emboldened. The moderates appear to be in retreat. There is no peace process. There is war. How do you answer administration critics who say that the administration's actions have unleashed, have helped unleash the very hostilities you hoped to contain?
RICE: Well, first of all, those hostilities were not very well contained as we found out on September 11th, so the notion that policies that finally confront extremism are actually causing extremism, I find grotesque.
Ms. Rice's use of "grotesque" is Orwellian. After all, one need but a moment's reflection to recall that, during the few months when America's policy was limited to actually confronting al Qaeda's extremism by striking at its home base in Afghanistan and seeking the world's cooperation to chase them down elsewhere, America's response was seen as legitimate, even among many in the Muslim world. But as soon as the Bush administration unleashed its illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq, it lost legitimacy and much of the cooperation of former allies, while inflaming Muslim outrage and extremism.
Here's a test for our MLAs in the Bush administration: Try reconciling, (1) your belief that Iran under the extremist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- the primary beneficiary of America's war in Iraq (aside from America's defense contractors) -- feels sufficiently emboldened, as President Bush claims, "to exert more and more influence over the entire region" [Newsweek, July 24, 2006] with, (2) Mr. Cheney's assertion that "moderates throughout the region would take heart" from regime change in Iraq. After you fail to reconcile the unreconcilable, you'll also understand why Ms. Rice's use of the term "grotesque" indicates that she is a MLA in good standing.
Finally, who can disagree with Frank Rich's conclusion -- in his recent column, "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You 'Axis of Evil'" -- that "American foreign policy lies in ruins" due to the Bush administration's "idée fixe" about taking out Saddam? And when that recognition sets in, you'll also understand that when Mr. Rich refers to those "wonderful folks," he's engaging in discreet New York Times euphemism, not Bush/Cheney-talk, for America's leading MLAs.