As evidenced by the dearth of posts, I haven’t really been thinking about politics much lately. But when I do, here are a few of those forbidden places my train of thought sometimes leads me to:
1. Boy, am I glad Al Gore wasn’t the president on September 11, 2001.
For reasons I stated here. The Gore Administration would have been seen as an extension of the wrist-slapping, soft-on-terror Clinton Administration. Gore himself would have operated under a cloud of impeachment, and his approval ratings would have been at lows not seen since the Carter administration.
Even after toppling Saddam Hussein (which, by the way, Gore would have done as well), the Democrats would have almost certainly lost the presidency in 2004. Furthermore, they would have earned the public’s distrust on the national security issue for yet another generation.
2. Gee, it’s a good thing the terrorist attacks didn’t occur closer to November.
After pledging themselves to bipartisanship and unity, both parties bade each other not to use the terrorist attacks for partisan political purposes.
But almost immediately, the Republicans began to exploit September 11. They gave away commemorative 9/11 trinkets at fundraisers, and even sold pictures of Bush flying in Air Force One on that day.
The Republicans also began to paint Democrats who criticized the president on homeland security or Iraq as unpatriotic, terrorist-coddling, blame-America-first liberals.
But the most egregious exploitation of Sept. 11 is yet to come. Next year’s Republican convention is scheduled for Sept. 3, probably the latest convention date for that party in the last century. The strategy is clearly to extend Bush’s post-convention bounce through the Sept. 11 commemoration period.
Had the terrorists attacks occured in, say, October, the Republicans would have similarly used the commemoration for partisan purposes, and sprinted like hell from then to Election Day.
3. I hope the U.N. rebuffs the United States on this latest resolution.
The Bush Administration’s actions are a perfect lesson in how not to prosecute a war. Before the war, the administration was both arrogant and dishonest. It spent months belittling our allies and the United Nations, and misled the American people about the threat posed by Iraq.
You see, my problem is not that the United States decided to go it alone, but rather, the fact that we shouldn’t have had to. For years, the Bush administration has shown contempt for international institutions and treaties, causing resentment that culminated in a worldwide rebellion over Iraq. Had we leveled with the rest of the world, we may well have had a “coalition of the willing” to end Hussein’s regime and shoulder the burden of reconstruction. Instead, the administration’s fearmongering made unilateral action a necessity.
Now, though, we are groveling for the United Nations to step in and help us. Our requests should be rebuffed, at least initially, because this administration is no more humble than it was six months ago, and because the neocons need to lie in the bed they have made.
4. I hope it becomes clear that Al Qaeda is in Iraq.
Those with simple minds will call this casualty-mongering. It’s not more casualties that I hope for, but rather, clear, unretutable evidence that the ongoing attacks are the result of reconstituted Al Qaeda elements that we left to regenerate in Afghanistan.
We invaded a country that had nothing to do with terrorism against the U.S. and, through abysmal postwar planning, created a hornet’s nest that now has Arab fighters flowing in from all sides. “Bring them on,” our president said in a moment of stupefying ignorance, as it became clear that the troops were fighting a guerilla war.
The American people need to know that, unlike before the war, the secular Baathists and islamic terrorists are now fully allied against a common enemy. If Saddam Hussein did indeed harbor chemical or biological weapons, he now has no incentive to refrain from turning them over to Al Qaeda.
5. I hope North Korea declares itself a nuclear power.
Furthermore, I hope it holds a nuclear test to put an exclamation point on that statement. Why? Because nothing, so far, has gotten the American people to pay attention to a threat that is far greater and more imminent than Iraq ever was.
For over a year, Bush himself antagonized the North Koreans and refused to even talk with them (until just recently). Then, eager to corral public support for an invasion of Iraq, the administration downplayed the North Korean threat and allowed the problem to fester while the Koreans worked feverishly toward a nuclear deterrent.
A nuclear declaration, I think, is the only thing that will force the administration to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and address the problem head-on.
6. Thank God for the United States military, because this administration hasn’t done anything else right.
Leadership requires more than pointing to a map and allowing the military to unleash its B-52s and smart bombs. And the fact is that, even when we put aside its dismal domestic record, the Bush administration has been thoroughly incompetent in all things.
The last three thoughts in particular, I think, are unfortunate but necessary developments, for they will make it crystal clear that the Republican stewardship of the past three years has been a disaster for this country.