Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It Depends on What You Mean by War?

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network 1/23/07

“If only we knew then what we know now.”

“I don’t think anyone expected it to turn out like this.”

These phrases became widely used a few months after the invasion of Iraq. Within a year they were part of the common parlance of mainstream commentators on Fox, CNN and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. But now they were coming from the same apparatchiks, fellow travelers, appeasers, accommodators and coat carriers that drove us into a murderous, tragic and illegal invasion of Iraq and brought about a crisis of confidence in America greater than any in our history.

The new voice is casual and passive: We didn’t expect this. It’s like something out of the ordinary happened; something that could not have been anticipated - something out of the blue, like a comet hit.

Something unexpected did happen. We lost.

I first heard this casual – “It’s not our fault.” – commentary from David Brooks, conservative columnist for The New York Times and a constant companion on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. The aggressive language and hubris leading up to the invasion was gone. The language came now as if with the white silk scarf of peace and a passive smile: “I don’t think anyone expected it to turn out like this.” You can’t blame us for that, although Brooks was one of the original Dungeons & Dragons Warriors at the Weekly Standard which advanced this war. I next heard it from George Will, ABC commentator and Washington Post columnist who, in whipping up war fever and ramping up for the invasion, accused Europe of anti-Semitism for not joining into this misguided adventure.

If we treated self-government with the same honor, dignity and respect we grant to sports, these people would be long gone from their perches, just as an honorable football coach would voluntarily retreat after systematic failure – and if he didn’t, we would fire him.

But in politics we don’t do that. We have in politics and in political writing apparently an unwritten “no fault” agreement. It doesn’t matter how wrong you are or how long you have been wrong. You’ll still be there every night, facing the same audience. Consider for a moment just in contrast, what an old-school coach from days of yore might say (say from the Chicago Bears): You have no honor. You are not real men. In a word, you are cowards.

More “feeling” management might buy these loser prognosticators computers. Everybody here knew. It was daily here in the on-line press, particularly in the Free Market News Network, but throughout the new journals on the web as well that this was a deception from the first, destined to fail, and destined to bring the greatest crisis in political management and leadership to our country since WW II.

But it is not like we have our own private stash of information and secret sources. Gary Hart, Wesley Clark, Brent Scowcroft and many others of the best minds in public policy predicted this quagmire on TV, in the daily press and in hundreds of public appearances, and predicted the long-term consequences of invasion of Iraq to a T.

Now, as predictable as twilight, these same comments come this week from Senator Clinton as she seeks the Presidency.

Here is John Roberts of CNN interviewing Senator Clinton this week.

ROBERTS: "On the subject of mistakes, your 2002 vote to authorize the war, was that a mistake? Do you regret it?

CLINTON: I've said that I regret the way the president uses, used the authority that he was given, and certainly, if we knew then what we know now, there would never have been a vote and I wouldn't have voted for it. I take responsibility for that.

ROBERTS: Was it a mistake to vote for it?

CLINTON: I know people are all hung up on the words here. I think it's very clear that, if we had known then what we know now, the president would never have been able to come to the Congress and ask for a vote. I believe that, you know, the case that was made then, which I saw as a way of checking Saddam Hussein, the sanctions regime was falling apart, putting inspectors in made sense. I said at the time I was not in favor of a pre-emptive war, and you know, I don't think you get do-overs in life. I think you take responsibility for the decisions that you make and you try to make the situation better, which is what I've been trying to do consistently."

Wow. Did somebody say Wow? As in Wow: What planet are we on now?

It’s not the words we are hung up on. It is the substance. But on planet Clinton, on which the party of the common man morphed into the party of the very, very, very rich, language became a tool that no longer meant anything. It was instead, a kind of theater. What mattered was not what you said, but how you said it and how you looked when you said it, and how the words subtly seemed to surround the questioner instead and accuse him of something. Because the questioner was, in the very act of asking a question, challenging your authority and your natural-born right to govern. He was, after all, the enemy.

Again we enter the realm of Clintonailia. I can almost hear the Senator now: It depends on what you mean by war.

The Senator says she takes full responsibility for her vote which, in the NFL as in all of the world’s history, once meant: I have disgraced my country, I have disgraced my team, I have not measured up and have not achieved what I had promised you I would and I retreat in love and respect: I resign.

It now means: Let’s talk about something else.

This is soccer mom politics in which everybody gets the trophy.

To treat her as an honest, equal, human citizen, Roberts should first have asked: Doesn’t the million dollar gift given to your husband by close Libby associate Marc Rich, which one well-known Democratic activist called “legal bribery” when you were First Lady call into question your objectivity in voting for the Iraq invasion? Or voting for anything else as a representative of the people for that matter?

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