Edge of the West
WASHINGTON D.C.—You want to talk about the buck not stopping here? The buck never even so much as slowed down as it flew by the desk of the President of the United States in a heartbeat, where it was deftly redirected to the end of its line- right there at the feet of John Murtha?
In a desperate attempt to defend his ill-conceived, ill-begotten war for which he was ill-prepared and for which the American public was ill-informed, George W. Bush has gone sick on the opposition party for agreeing with him based on the cherry-picked, blown up pre-war intelligence package he showed them. They voted to give him the authority to use force in Iraq and the rest is history, history that now includes what may turn out to be the most epic blunder America has ever stumbled into.
Some 2200 soldiers have been killed in the struggle that appears to be yielding nothing so much as an Iran-style Islamic fundamentalist state that we identified as the source of our problem in the first place. Torture has become as American as apple pie and John McCain is forced to negotiate hard with the White House to get a watered down measure through Congress that would at least limit our use of it. Rumsfeld has grown fond enough of the smell of White Phosphorous in the morning that he okï¿½ed its use in the city of Falluja in an effort to clean out the insurgency there in order to move forward with freedom and liberation. Fondly nicknamed "Whiskey Pete" in military circles, it's a bomb that on impact spreads a cloud of chemical vapor so potent that it melts the flesh down to the bone of those who contact it. It does not discriminate between women or men or children or dogs. An odd way to liberate. The Iraqis are grateful to the Americans though, because it does no damage to their clothes, and it is predicted that many well-dressed Fallujans will soon be handing flowers and candy to their liberators.
And now it's been revealed that one of the true hallmarks of liberty, the free press, is turning out to be not so free in the new, free Iraq. The United States government has contracted with a firm called the Lincoln Group to plant the newspapers of Iraq with pro-American stories, either by paying off the Iraqi journalists or by writing the pieces themselves- pieces that remind the citizens of Iraq of good things like just how many cars haven't yet exploded. Nothing so much as paid advertisements masquerading as news, this is journalism the way Karl Rove likes journalism. In fact the model for the Iraqi program was created right here in America, with the shameless purchase of the airwaves and column space of Armstrong Williams and others last year.
Rather than step up to the plate to take just a little responsibility for the madness- George W. Bush instead resorts to what he knows best, in fact, the only thing he appears to be competent at- that is, bashing political opponents in campaign-style settings. So he has hit the road on his "Plan for Victory" tour, dancing with the one who brought him to the ball, delivering a series of matinee speeches that drop the buck at the feet of- who else?- John Kerry. He appears to be using the "I'm-not-the-only-one-who did-a-bad-thing" excuse favored by grade-schoolers. In case he forgot, he's the only one who is the president of the United States, the only one who could have, and did, unleash this hideousness. Meanwhile Cheney drops the buck at Clinton's feet whenever he gets out of the bunker, Rumsfeld drops it on the doorstep of the liberal-biased New York Times for reporting American deaths, Condie on the broad shoulders of Murtha, the hawkish Pennsylvania congressman who has become the new and unlikely voice of the anti-war. This wily bunch instinctively knows that if you spread the buck around enough, there will be no buck left to stop at the door of the hideout of the gang that couldn't shoot straight.
They apparently can't drive straight either. The official presidential emergency ambulance crashed into the rear of the official presidential communications vehicle in the motorcade coming home to the White House from Camp David recently, and that's just about how it's been going for these guys lately. The president, having learned his lesson from his botched Katrina response, was ready this time, and took charge at the scene of the accident. He was on the phone to FEMA within hours, and under the new and improved leadership of Michael Chertoff- no horse trainer he- FEMA was on the scene and had the fender bender under control by the following morning.
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