As he drew back the curtain this week on the evidence against Vice President Cheney's former top aide, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the first time described a "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" -- using classified information -- to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq.Don’t get me wrong—I’m immensely grateful for the service Fitzy has performed on our collective behalf in his role as Special Prosecutor. It’s just truly annoying that the media was so complicit in facilitating the administration’s cover-up, uncritically parroting any lie they were fed and denouncing anyone who dared to suggest the above conclusion Way Back When as motivated solely by irrational loathing of Bush, that what was obvious to those of us paying attention was not also obvious even to those who take only a passing interest in The News.
As I’ve watched The Truth begin to unfold, just start to stretch its legs after its long slumber, and see and house of cards constructed by this mendacious administration begin to collapse under the weight of inevitable revelation, I’ve been at turns infuriated by the thought of how much damage has been done in the interim, while we impatiently waited for The Truth to set us free, and bitterly satisfied that we have been vindicated. We were right all along. The administration was intent on war in Iraq no matter what, they did misuse intelligence to get us there, they were the vicious vengeance-seekers who outed Valerie Plame to try to discredit her husband, the tax cuts didn’t “by far the vast majority … [go] to those at the bottom,” the Medicare Prescription Bill was a colossal corporate hand-out, the president was warned about Katrina, Afghanistan isn’t a rousing success, we haven’t turned a corner in Iraq, and on and on and on and on and on.
At each turn, we were met with accusations that our blind hatred of Bush drove our criticisms, but what the accusers failed to realize—and fail to realize still—is that our hatred was never blind.
You’re goddamned right if you think I found George Bush an insignificant slip of a man who was unprepared for and undeserving of the presidency, whose history as a drunken dullard, constructed aw-shucks shtick, and careful positioning as the ordained man who would marry religious extremists with neocon corporatists made me want to puke from the moment I laid eyes upon his sneering visage. You’re categorically correct if you think that his leadership shames me, that every heh heh which has emanated from his condescending mouth has made my skin crawl, that I am utterly unable to find the merest shadow of anything to like about him, that I fervently long for the day he takes his leave from governance and retreats to Crawford for good, where I won’t give the tiniest, microscopic shit about him whether he is lost in a tragic brush-clearing accident and his body devoured by wild dogs before the search party arrives, or whether he lives out the remainder of his useless life in good health and happiness—either way, I don’t care, as long as I never have to think about him for the rest of my days. You’re right as rain if you think I hated him from the get-go, but maybe it’s time to consider that my hatred left my eyes wide open, and it was his most ardent supporters who were blind.
Blindly allegiant. Blind defenders. Deliberately, selectively blind.
We didn’t subscribe to the propaganda; we saw through it and found the truth that their rose-white-and-blue-colored glasses obscured.
There’s no joy in having been right about Bush’s many failures, not when so many lives have been lost, so many people been hurt, at the business end of his visions of empire. But, by god, we were right, and even when staring that ugliness in the face day after day left us disheartened and dispirited, angry and scared, we did the work that citizens are meant to do—we watched our leaders, even as our vigil was held in contempt. We were not cheerleaders; we put our scrawny defense out on the field and held the line. And even when closing our eyes to the entire game and having a little nap—wake me when it’s over—seemed like it would just be the best thing in the world, we kept our eyes open. We were never blind.
Maybe the sentiment I’m expressing doesn’t mean much, or seems to reek of bombast, to those who live in a beautifully blue enclave or spend their days immersed in a profession where political acuity is so ordinary that it makes the thought of people who languidly bob along in whatever direction the river flows seem quaint. But I live in a part of the country—a small town, in a very red state—where one’s neighbors or coworkers were openly hostile to those who would criticize the president several years ago, where your life as an unapologetic liberal could be pretty damn tough. Not so long ago, I was accused of tinfoil hattery, of hating America, for the merest suggestion that Bush led us to war under false pretenses. There was a time, not two years ago, when Mr. Shakes and I were roundly rejected as radicals for giving voice to ideas that have now been revealed as truth. Now, some of the same people who would have keyed my car for bearing a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker are yammering about what a jackass Bush is.
It’s one thing to write a blog; it’s quite another to stand up and say what you believe when you’re the only person in a room who believes it. It’s not always easy (nor particularly smart, I guess) to challenge your boss on being a homophobe, a sexist, a racist—to address his making the workplace hostile for liberals in an election year, especially when you’re the only liberal. Passionately caring can be a burden; it would have been so much easier to close our eyes and turn our faces away, to just be like everyone else. And so I think it’s important to note that we did it, and do still, to lift our spirits a little by pointing out that it matters; it’s worth it. We need to recharge sometimes, because this vigil has no end. Our eyes must always be open.