On Being Right


David Brooks is finally admitting it: He was wrong and we were right.

This has been a crushingly depressing period, especially for people who support the war in Iraq. The predictions people on my side made about the postwar world have not yet come true. The warnings others made about the fractious state of post-Saddam society have.

Good for you, David. Like George Will last week and Andy Sullivan a couple of weeks ago and Terri Forrest Reed of Baton Rouge, LA before either of you honchos, the light is finally dawning on Marblehead, as we say in New England. And it only took three years of environmental destruction, of a civic and political arrogance that makes Richard Nixon look like a Democrat, of economic policies flagrantly favorable to the already-rich and a catastrophe for everybody else, a raft of so many lies it was hard to keep track of them all, the blatant perversion of science into a political tool, and a ‘pre-emptive’ war waged badly in the wrong place for reasons that didn’t exist.

I’m not crowing about being right (well, maybe a little….), I’m trying to understand what took you all so long. Because the point isn’t that we were right and you were wrong, the point is that we were so obviously right. Contrary to much of the rationalizing of Bush supporters and adherents of the Second Gulf War, this wasn’t a ‘close call’. It wasn’t a ‘maybe this, maybe that’ or a matter of degree; it was a clear and present error, wrong-headed and futile from the beginning, and the whole damn world knew it. If you had listened to yourselves resorting to hysterical emotionalism in defending the stupid lies and astounding global ignorance inherent in the policies of this ‘president’, even you would have known it.

But you didn’t, and the question has to be asked: Why didn’t you? How could you have missed it? How could any reasonably intelligent human beings have blinded themselves so completely to such unarguable truths? Was it fear? A need for revenge against somebody, anybody after what happened on 9/11? A need to believe in something even if that something had proved himself over and over again to be a callous corporate puppet who, as Molly Ivins said, “doesn’t have a clue”?

Okay, we cut taxes for the rich and so we have to cut services for the poor. Presumably there is some right-wing justification along the lines that helping poor people just makes them dependent or something. If there were a rationale Bush could express, it would be one thing, but to watch him not see, not make the connection, is another thing entirely. Welfare, Medicare, Social Security, food stamps–horrors, they breed dependency. Whereas inheriting millions of dollars and having your whole life handed to you on a platter is good for the grit in your immortal soul? What we’re dealing with here is a man in such serious denial it would be pathetic if it weren’t damaging so many lives.Bush’s lies now fill volumes. He lied us into two hideously unfair tax cuts; he lied us into an unnecessary war with disastrous consequences; he lied us into the Patriot Act, eviscerating our freedoms. Buit when it comes to dealing with those less privileged, Bush’s real problem is not deception, but self-deception. (Mother Jones, Nov-Dec, 2003)

None of this was hidden, not from the beginning. OK, Rove ran a brilliantly evasive campaign in 2000 and a compliant press helped by refusing to do their homework or ask any of the glaringly obvious questions that should have been asked. But when he appointed all these neocon hot-shots to positions of power, didn’t that give you pause? You knew who they were even if the public didn’t. When he took his first vacation–for a month, and this after barely four months in office–didn’t that strike you as a little, shall we say, disengaged? When he refused to talk to Arafat, took Ariel’s calls on the golf course, and denied any role for American involvement in the Middle East, didn’t that signal to you that this guy was missing a couple of sandwiches from his picnic for the leader of the most powerful country in the world? And when he insisted on promoting rampantly ideological policies that were horrendously unbalanced besides being fanatically extreme, why didn’t that clue you in that there was something wrong here?

In other words, why did you look away from facts that were right under your nose? facts that were all but begging you to pay attention to them? How did smart people like you allow themselves to be turned into stupid, slathering acolytes, the pawns of openly destructive, anti-democratic policies that violated from the git-go everything this country is supposed to be about?

None of this should have been hard, because the irony of it all is that the dumbest and greediest of these decisions were the ones they bragged about–the tax cuts aimed exclusively at rich contributors, the Afghan War we bailed on months too early so we could invade Iraq, the turning over of govt agencies established for the protection of citizens to the industries they were supposed to protect us from, allowing corporate lobbyists to write the laws that would affect the industries they represented, gutting the Clean Air Act in a clear payback to Big Contributors–the list goes on and on and on and on, and it began the very first day these clowns walked through the White House door.

Three-and-a-half years it’s taken you, David–three and a half years. Why? That’s what baffles me. Why?

I don’t get it.

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