Monday, January 29, 2007

Bush and Cheney's Do-over

I don't know why this didn't occur to me before in these terms.

All this talk about having to prove to the rest of the world that "we're not cowards" really has nothing to do with keeping the United States from looking weak or cowardly. It's not about us. It never was. It's about them, by whom I mean the ones doing the talking.

There is a scene in Gosford Park, in which one of the police officers investigating the murder says to the officious, alcoholic head butler something along the lines of, "well, you weren't the only one who didn't serve in the war." The line is delivered with barely concealed contempt. Near the end of the film, the head butler, hung over and quite possibly drunk in the middle of the day, looks into a mirror and salutes. The look on his face says it all. He hates himself. He might very well have had legitimate reasons for objecting, but whatever those reasons are, they do not comfort him in the night when he is alone with his thoughts.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are not trying to prove anything about America to anybody. They are trying to prove it about themselves. They had a chance to prove themselves warriors when they were young. They had a chance to prove themselves men. They chose not to. They were afraid to go to war, and so they availed themselves of every opportunity to avoid going.

Cheney secured five deferments, and arguably went so far as to father a child to get out of going to war.

George W. Bush, as is well documented, secured for himself a place in the Air National Guard, and even then failed to fulfill that relatively meager responsibility.

When I hear all their tough talk, it is clear that they are not talking about America at all. They are talking about themselves. They talk about this country as though it has something to prove to the rest of the world. America isn't a coward.

Well, not even our worst enemies really believe that our country lacks the will or, forgive me for putting it this way, the manhood to defend our interests. They know that when America is attacked, America responds.

Deep in their corrupt hearts, I suspect Bush and Cheney know also that America has nothing to prove. They, however, have everything to prove. When they were young, they were afraid to prove themselves under fire. They never stopped hating themselves for it. Now, as old men, they want a do-over. For some reason, beyond all logic, they think they can prove their manhood now by sending others to do what they were afraid to do. It is shameful.

America's fighting men and women do not deserve to lose their lives for such a pathetic reason. The escalation of the Bush/Cheney war in Iraq must be opposed at all costs. There is no price too high. Losing the next election is worth doing the right thing. Courage is its own reward, and cowardice its own punishment.

Just ask George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.