Don’t Insult Me

Something that absolutely infuriates me is when I am treated as a fool. You see, I have a brain, quite a good one as it happens, and I like to use it. When someone tells me something that is so obviously a lie, so clearly absurd and counter to everything that reason and logic would otherwise suggest, it drives me up one wall and down the other—more so that they demonstrably think I am stupid, than because of the underlying lie.

This is how the Bush administration treats us all, relying on the fact that most Americans, unfortunately, are either trusting, ignorant, or crooked enough to take them at their empty word. Well, I’m neither gullible, nor uninformed, nor a fan of their Machiavellian ends-justify-the-means strategies, and I’m tired of being treated as a fool. It’s time to get real. And this is the reality…

George Bush and his neocon cabal wanted to go to war in Iraq, and they saw in the September 11th attacks a justification for that preexisting goal. So determined were they to embark on this misadventure, that they ignored the real culprit behind the attacks, al-Qaida, and went into Afghanistan to rout the al-Qaida supportive Taliban regime only as part of a bargain with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who gave his support to the Iraq War in exchange for the Americans’ support of the Afghanistan invasion. The Afghan War was quick and dirty, and before our job was even complete, the Bush administration had its sites set on Iraq.

The problem is that Iraq was not responsible or even remotely connected to the 9/11 attack on American soil, so a case for war had to be conjured out of thin air. The recently leaked Downing Street Memos document that the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy, that increased bombings, referred to as spikes of activity, were used to try to provoke Saddam Hussein into war, that the decision to go to war was made long before either government admitted it to their own people, and that the UN ultimatum was a sham, designed to generate political capital for the war and help “sell” it.

Meanwhile, the White House Iraq Group was formed, featuring many of the same players who names now come up over and over as having engaged in undoubtedly unethical and possibly criminal incidences of disseminating information to silence war critics, such as Karl Rove and “Scooter” Libby. Another member of the group, Condi Rice, then-National Security Advisor, made ominous references to the possibility of a “mushroom cloud” if America did not move to oust Saddam Hussein.

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the UN and the world to deliver a speech detailing the alleged stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq—except he didn’t suggest they were alleged; according to Powell (and the rest of the Bush administration), there was no maybe about it at all. Then-CIA Director George Tenet declared the case for war a “slam-dunk,” and the President delivered in his State of the Union address the menacing (and now-infamous) claim that “The British government has learned Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

This outrageous assertion, based on intelligence which was already known to the administration to be false, was contradicted in a NY Times column by Joe Wilson, who had been sent to Niger to investigate the possibility. The well-oiled Bush smear machine kicked into action, and the identity of Wilson’s wife, a covert CIA operative specializing in weapons proliferation, was leaked to the press, potentially endangering her life, the lives of those with whom she worked, and the lives of Americans who were that much less safe that one of the analysts dedicated to WMDs was no longer able to do her job.

Now we find that at least two senior Bush administration officials, Rove and Libby, were involved in the leak, the former of whom was fired by the campaign of the current president’s father for leaking information to—surprise!—Bob Novak. The GOP has issued their talking points on the matter, and Scott McClellan continues to dance around questions, and all the while, they continue to treat the American people like fools.

Fixing facts and intelligence doesn’t mean what you think it means, they condescend, adding that fixing has a different meaning in Britain (as if none of us have been there), and besides, they say, it was just one man’s opinion. They spin and spin away, and the fact that no WMDs were found in Iraq, that their entire case for war was predicated on a nonexistent threat, is left unacknowledged (unless the president is making jokes about it), while the same people who continually invoke Clinton’s semantic contortions as illustrative of the moral relativism of the Left, bicker over the definition of fixed.

The reference to Saddam seeking uranium was left in the SOTU address by accident; an honest mistake, they condescend further, even though it had been taken out of a speech three months earlier at the behest of Tenet. It just magically made its way back in—oops! And yet it was not an immediate withdrawal of the claim by the Bush administration that alerted Americans to its falsity, but Wilson’s willingness to publicly contest the administration’s claims that made us all aware of this “honest mistake.”

Joe Wilson isn’t credible, they condescend yet further, giving us a variety of reasons why we ought to buy their story—that any leaks about his wife’s identity were just to ensure that reporters wouldn’t erroneously print errors about what the “real story” was. They were just being helpful, you see. Especially Rove—the man who orchestrated one of the nastiest smears against a political opponent in my lifetime, in which John McCain’s entire family was dragged through a mud made of lies and undue personal attacks, making way for Bush to secure the nomination of his party in the 2000 election. That same Rove was now taking time out of his busy schedule as one of the most influential men in the country to call up a reporter and make sure he didn’t report something incorrect, that’s it and that’s all, no other reason, even though there was every reason for the administration to seek retribution against Wilson, whose public refutation not only embarrassed them and undermined their case for war, but also raised the specter of a possibly criminal act on the part of the president, under the false statements statute. Do you feel insulted yet?

I certainly do.

Frank Rich recently wrote an excellent column called Follow the Uranium, in which he notes that Joe Wilson is just a MacGuffin, a red herring, a distraction from the real issue, which is Iraq. I think that’s only part of the picture. There are lots of diversionary tactics and topics out there, and lots of things from which to divert Americans’ attention—the nonexistent WMDs, the Downing Street Memos, the administration leaks and lies. They all have two things in common: war with Iraq at any cost, and a trail that leads right back to the White House.

Don’t insult me any more, President Bush. Every circus has a ringmaster, and I’m looking squarely at you, sir.

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