Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chutzpah, Arrogance, and the Tragedy of McCain

What the hell happened here? I thought the democrats won all those seats FROM the republicans in the House and Senate because the voters were fed up with Bush’s ridiculous and dangerous campaign in Iraq. I thought the electorate voted to get the US out of Iraq, one way or another, sooner than later.

That’s the story in the media—even Laura Bush got her hackles up this morning when Norah O’Donnell of NBC asked her what she thought of the latest poll showing that 2 of 10 Americans approved of her husband’s policies. Ms. Laura said she “understood” why that was because the media only paints the picture of disasters in Iraq, and they don’t report any of the “good things” that are happening. Nora says “like what,” and Laura says, “Oh you know—where there’s no violence…”

Now McCain is in Iraq talking about sending 30,000 more troops, and getting backing from fellow senators like Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. The democrats went home for Christmas, something the US military stationed around the world, not just in Iraq, won’t be doing. And Henry Reid is asking the “constituency” to rubber-stamp condolence messages for South Dakota Senator Johnson, who’s brain is bleeding at a most inopportune moment, because the fragile balance of senatorial power could shift back to the republicans if he doesn’t get well, or stay alive and keep his job. Get well cards are a nice gesture. Panic in the back-rooms is more the likelihood if Johnson has to quit: all the committee positions and Reid’s majority leadership reverts back to the…guys that were voted out of office. Reid’s a nice fellow, after all he spent the better part of the last two days in the hospital with Johnson. But lives are at stake literally, and not just the sick senator’s, or the jobs of some democrats in DC.

I’ll repeat here—what the hell happened? Talk about chutzpah—12% of Americans want to see additional troops sent to Iraq. 75% want them to come home. So McCain says let’s send 30,000 more over there. Arrogance—Bush doesn’t want to make any decisions about what to do about Iraq until after the holidays and his vacation. I’ll let Leno and Letterman have at that. And tragedy? That’s the remnant of this poorly-told story of misbegotten hubris and ambition beyond reality. The future of the world after Bush’s sloppy drive to intervene in the Middle East without an idea, concept, or plan—only motivated by greed, power and megalomania.

The tragedy is McCain’s well-intentioned desire to have one last go at it. Save the “cause” (talk to the Iraqi’s who have lost relatives in IED bombings about a “cause”) if possible, or else bail. First of all, that was Johnson’s methodology in Vietnam right around his decision to give up politics and not run for a second full term. Then the US stayed in Vietnam after that “one last push” for almost eight years. Secondly, the plans bandied around DC these days between pro-Bush advisers and Pentagon warriors, to follow McCain’s idea of putting additional troops into Iraq to try one more time for that “stabilization,” include the caveat that this is a huge gamble. In other words, if everything falls into place with the help of several miracles, the US might be able to extricate itself from Iraq in a year or so and leave behind a stable government under democratic rule.

As my kids would say—yeah right! The other side of the gambling coin is the failure of this plan, lives lost, mission UN accomplished, money down the drain, and untold chaos with terrorism at a peak for years to come. The military calls this a “double-down” scenario. Like when you’re playing black jack in Vegas and you get dealt 2 cards that total 11, you double your bet because chances are you’ll pull a picture card or a ten for the winning 21, and win twice your original bet because you “doubled down.” In gambling terms, the odds on this iraq bet are more like doubling down when the dealer shows a picture card and you’ve drawn a 2 and a 3. In other words—NOT GOOD!

So, as for the rest of us voters—thanks a lot. Nice Christmas present. At least we could have gotten what we voted for: a change of policy, a light at the end of the tunnel, a sign or a hope of a plan. We got nothing.

When I was a kid in elementary school the teachers told us that in Russia you could vote, but it didn’t really count, and in America we were lucky because we had a choice. We were terrified of Russia, and the communists, and dictatorship, because it wasn’t a democracy and people had no representation in government.

Today I also remember what my uncle said when he came over for holiday dinner: “So Vat’s new?”

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