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How the Mighty Have Fallen
May 12, 2004
By Michael Shannon

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George Bush is rightfully infamous for his ongoing losing battle with the English language. Without question, this man has more created more malapropisms, unleashed more misstatements and generally mangled his native tongue more often and more thoroughly than any other public figure in American history.

But even with this dubious track record safely tucked beneath his arm, the comments he made on May 10th at the Pentagon in defense of his Secretary of Defense are staggering in their inarticulacy and in their effect.

First of all, Mr. Rumsfeld is not supposed to be "courageously leading our nation in the war against terror." Mr. President, pardon me for pointing this out but, God help us, you are supposed to be leading our nation, not one of your cabinet members. Perhaps this was just another slip of the tongue, but then again we all - well maybe you don't - know what Freud said about slips of the tongue.

Even more important than who is actually running the show was Mr. Bush's remark that the Secretary was "doing a superb job."By what definition is this man doing a superb job? To use such a superlative to praise Mr. Rumsfeld is either to show a compete lack of understanding of what the word means, or even more frightening, a complete disregard for the reality of the circumstances over which Mr. Rumsfeld presides.

Practically nobody, regardless of how partisan, is even attempting to argue anymore that the occupation of Iraq is going as planned. The litany of mistakes, from the trivial to the strategic, in the "postwar" occupation of Iraq - Bush and his minions seemed to be the only people who still believe the war ended just because Mr Bush said it did - grows more lengthy and bloody by the hour. This is not the format for a retelling of those failures. For such a list I recommend the article by Peter Galbraith, "How to Get Out of Iraq," in the May 13th edition of the New York Review of Books. It is merely enough for the purposes of this discussions to acknowledge that they exist.

As bad as it has been going, the revelations of the past week have made a bad situation into a hellish one. It is a statement of the obvious to note that the United States Army - an institution that Mr. Rumsfeld has had a, if you pardon the use of the word, tortuous relationship with since taking office - is currently embroiled in the most disastrous public relations debacle since the My Lai massacre four decades ago in Vietnam. And while that unholy assault on innocents was by far more horrific and lethal, this current nightmare come to life has the benefit of being captured in high definition digital quality; available for downloading at the touch of button from Casablanca to Karachi.

While the un-named king of yore may have lost his empire for the want of a nail, Mr. Bush is perilously close to losing his for a few too many pixels.

That the situation in Iraq has devolved to this sickening nadir is hardly surprising. I am a charter member of the "Bush is the worst President in recent history, and quite possibly of all time, Club." I found the thought of this man being in charge of the government of the United States an embarrassing and frightening one from the moment he anounced his candidacy.

As such, I have long been personally aware of the "damned if we do and damned if we don't" position in which he has put the loyal opposition. Due to the fact that the stakes are so high - environmentally, economically, fiscally and of course, in regards to foreign affairs and national defense - as a patriot it was impossible for me to wish him to fail.

That he would fail was never in question. In spite of his near-mythical status post 9/11, he remains what he always has been; an all hat and no cattle Daddy's boy who, if he went by any other name than Bush, would have safely found his level of anonymous mediocrity a long time ago.

Mr Bush's voluminous inadequacies were not lost on the upper echelons of the Republican party, which is precisely why they worked so diligently to reassure the public that this neophyte was to be surrounded by well-seasoned professionals in the most key departments of his administration. Unfortunately for the entire world, they chose to fill those positions with men of stilted imagination and meanness of spirit. Mr. Rumsfeld and his ever-loyal mentor and protégé, Dick Cheney, embody those characteristics as if they invented them.

Although as I stated above, as we are witnessing with our disbelieving eyes, the consequences of these men's failures are so dire that I would never willfully wish them to come to their putrid fruition. But even with that being said, I cannot deny the how satisfying it will be to watch these smug, self-absorbed, arrogant SOBs forced to face the wrath of a people and cause betrayed.

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