to Pay the Piper, Mr. President
By Michael Shannon
As anyone who has read more than a few paragraphs of my
work is plainly aware, the low esteem in which I hold Mr.
Bush knows few rivals. While I do not consider myself a "Bush-hater,"
I find him so sorely lacking in the qualities his high office
demands that the very fact that he occupies such a position
is a never ending source of embarrassment.
There is however one area of great social and political importance
where I find myself in complete agreement with Mr Bush. This
is when he calls for more people, both on the private level
as well as the governmental, to be held to a higher level
of accountability and to take more personal responsibility
for their actions. As he himself put it in the Presidential
debate on October 3, 2000, "I think that people need to be
held responsible for the actions they take in life. I think
that's part of the need for a cultural change. We need to
say that each of us needs to be responsible for what we do."
These are principles that I too hold in the highest regard.
Unfortunately, as with many, many other principles in which
Mr Bush has publicly pledged a position, Mr Bush says the
right thing and then promptly does absolutely nothing to insure
His appalling record in holding himself and those who serve
at his pleasure to task for their failings will be once again
be placed in the spotlight with the implosion of the contention
that an Iraqi arsenal of WMDs was a clear and present danger
to the United States. Even the most diehard of apologists
for Team Bush are being forced to admit that the exhaustive
search for these weapons has failed utterly in proving the
frenetic pre-war hyperbole of Bush and company.
Although he has engaged in a certain predictable degree of
backing and filling, David Kay's - the man hand-picked by
the Bush administration to scour Iraq until he found what
they were looking for - recent comments that he no longer
believed that Iraq had much of anything in the way of WMD's
in the years and months leading up to the US led invasion
pretty much seals the deal.
In light of these and other recent developments it has become
almost impossible to continue to question whether or not the
pre-war analysis concerning the Iraqi arsenal was wrong, it
only remains to be seen whether the analysis was wrong by
ideologically driven design or through systemic incompetence.
Of the two, obviously the former is the more insidious and
dangerous. If the intelligence community deliberately misled
the senior members of the Bush administration to achieve a
political objective, or - as is more likely - the Bush people
insisted on being told precisely what they wished to hear,
then we as a democratic and law-abiding people are in grave
Even setting such concerns aside, we are still faced with
a vexing problem. Let us assume for the sake of this discussion
that the error was benign in intent. That still puts the future
well being of this nation into serious question. How is is
that the combined efforts of the entire intelligence community
could be so wrong about a subject of such vital importance?
One of the first arguments put forth in defense of the Bush
administration is that they were not the only ones to get
this wrong. And they have a point. They were not alone in
thinking that Hussein was sitting on a stockpile of "some
of the world's most dangerous weapons." However, while it
may be true that they had plenty of company in their error,
that fact does not make them any less wrong or any less culpable.
For centuries the greatest minds on earth thought the sun
revolved around the earth but that certainly didn't make it
. There is also a very profound difference between the two
principal parties that the Bush people point to as being in
agreement with their erroneous assessment: the Clinton administration
and the UN. While it is true that there were many in those
organizations who believed Iraq still had a WMD capability
they did not declare war based on that belief. And that is
the defining difference.
How Mr Bush will handle that fact will go a long way in
defining him. He has proven more than willing to take the
credit when things go right, we are now about to see how willing
he is to take the blame when they go wrong.
Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org