February 12, 2007
The Price of Shame
By Mary Lyon
It's THE most powerful force moving and motivating Washington DC these days. It's not vindictiveness, deceit, greed, or warmongering. But it is what has driven John Warner, Norm Coleman and other republi-CONS to blow hot and cold, Mitch McConnell to obstruct and stall, Harry Reid to whine and scold, Hillary Clinton to bob and weave, Chuck Hagel to throw a tantrum before meekly slinking back in line, Tony Snow to change the subject, Tim Russert to avoid the question, and everyone to pile on Nancy Pelosi's travel arrangements or run off to hide under Anna Nicole's shroud and Lisa Nowak's Depends. At the moment, shame trumps it all.
Frankly, they all SHOULD be ashamed.
I suspect many of them really are ashamed, although unprepared to admit it.
That's because the truth is busting out all over. The dam has burst over what we in the anti-war movement knew and rallied against, by the millions, ever since 2002. Yes. We the Ignored. It's now painfully obvious that the books were cooked. The intel was ginned and cherry-picked by that stovepiping operation that shunted unvetted and highly dubious inside scoops straight to the Vice President's office. Douglas Feith, the Pentagon point man, has now been fingered as the cherry-picker-in-chief.
But we knew that. We knew that before the Downing Street Memos came out amid hardly any fanfare, detailing how the intelligence was shaped to fit policy decisions already made. Many of us knew that before Scooter Libby started deliberately trying to screw Joe and Valerie Wilson.
Shame is driving everyone's actions and reactions now. Shame is what led dozens of republi-CONS in the House of Representatives to stampede toward Pelosi's 100-hour agenda items. Every one of those motions passed overwhelmingly. Makes you wonder why, in all their years controlling the House, the GOP couldn't be bothered with such matters as raising the minimum wage, fulfilling the directives of the 9/11 Commission, or following the wishes of vast majorities of their constituents in supporting stem cell research. Now, of course, you have Hagel and others nearly erupting like volcanoes about the blessings and desperate urgency of holding government accountable. Oh yeah? When did THEY get religion all of a sudden? Accountability never seemed that important to anybody on Hagel's side of the aisle before.
And now it seems almost everyone on Capitol Hill voted for the war before they voted against it. They absolutely SHOULD be ashamed. "If I knew then what I know now." Well, if I hear THAT crap one more time, I'll probably start babbling about orphaned gazillionaire babies more incoherently than does that two-legged nonsequitur Zsa Zsa married.
Well, WE knew then. What was the matter with YOU, Hillary? What was the matter with YOU, John Edwards? At least Edwards has owned up to it. Barack Obama knew enough to smell a rat and he wasn't even in the Senate back then. So much for high-fallutin' Washington resumes.
Shame is proving more powerful than the Seventh Fleet, and certainly, now, more powerful than Dick Cheney. Shame makes them hem and haw. Shame makes them flip-flop, flounder, and flail about for excuses. Shame undercuts them as they dance all over the room, desperate for a suitable position from which to KIND OF denounce the war they once embraced. It's damned hard to admit you were wrong, and even harder to admit you were had. Especially when you bet all your credibility, your White House access, and the lives of many of the Guardsmen and reservists in your home town on the deal, and all the cameras are still rolling. And it's clear by now that ANYONE who took George Bush's or Cheney's word for it about Iraq - was simply had. Played for fools. Taken for a ride. Bullied, intimidated, and beaten into submission.
Now, they all wring their hands, albeit in different directions. The Democrats claim they know why the voters put them in charge last November, but can't bring themselves to do what they were put in charge to do. That's got to be pretty damned hard to face. The republi-CONS claim they understand that the war isn't going swimmingly, but they'd rather drag their heels and burnish their president's precious legacy than spare dozens more of the lives of our troops. But they're NOT impugning our patriotism when they now actually do note our objections, of course (she said, gagging). Even though they are. Above all, not one of them wants to admit that he or she was flat-out fooled. Even George himself can't get the one-liner out coherently ("fool me once, shame on. you. fool m'. won't get fooled agin!"), despite his being revealed as the Fool-in-Chief.
But are they all ashamed enough to face that they better damned well get a second opinion before they believe these same liars and cheats and their latest shell game about Iran ? Are they going to keep on ignoring and avoiding reality, yammering and stammering over point-of-order technicalities until we all wake up some fine morning to the news that we've begun bombing Tehran ? You know what will happen then. We'll be told, as a nation, to shut up and stop asking questions and stand mutely behind "Our President" during this time of turmoil - and of GREAT shame.
Well, I'm not buying. I didn't then, and I don't now. NOBODY should. I don't accept the rationalizing, the explanations, the tap-dancing, or the bait-n-switching. Nor will I pay the price of their shame. If the Senate couldn't muster the backbone to vote - ANY vote - against the war, I expect the House to do better, if only that the Democratic majority is larger there. There's no longer ANY excuse not to, considering what (and how much) we ALL know now. They better be able to get past their own personal shame and do what's long overdue: support our troops to the utmost by getting them OUT of a hopeless hell hole (in which our troops are picking up the tab for that disgrace). Otherwise, the shame is securely - and forever - on them all.
And then go DO something about it.