The sounds from last week’s Democratic debate still ring in my ears, and I cannot forget the role played by each of the candidates. Hillary was the defensive coordinator employing the prevent defense. The one who says, “Crap, we’re leading by 11 points and there’s only 5 minutes left. As long as we don’t give up the big play, we can’t lose.” Any football fan can tell you what happens next – the other team throws one ten yard pass after another, then a guy breaks a tackle and gets 20 yards, and the next thing you know the other team has the ball and the momentum, and is driving for the game winning touchdown … with plenty of time left on the clock. All the “prevent” does is prevent a team from winning; Hillary presumably has been told that by now. In future debates, she’s going to have to stop dodging every question. Do that, Hill, and you just might win the nomination (though I don’t see you winning the Presidency).
Next, there was Barack. He played the role of the earnest, concerned political observer who noticed Hillary’s increasing unwillingness to answer questions. He was critical, but in a detached, passionless way – much like you’d expect from a professor, one of his former occupations. Still, it was probably a pretty wise tack to take because the dirty work was being done by his new ally, John Edwards. Edwards played the role of trial lawyer. He finally looked to me like he learned something from all those years in the courtroom. He went for Hillary’s jugular and, like one of Michael Vick’s dogs, didn’t let go until he drew plenty of blood. Of course, in
Then came Kucinich. He played the role of Randle Patrick McMurphy – you know, the Nicholson character in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Actually, there was difference. McMurphy was institutionalized for being crazy, whereas in fact he was sane. And Kucinich? Let’s just say the inverse applies. OK, so maybe he’s not certifiable, but I don’t think the country is ready for a guy who can talk matter of factly about witnessing UFOs, and then goes home to a wife who is less than half his age and wears a tongue stud. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see those two in the White House. Oral sex in the White House? Never.
That leaves us with two candidates – Biden and Dodd. They played the role of the owl. They’re both under 65, only a few years Hillary’s senior, but they came across as being a generation older, a generation more experienced. “Trust me,” they both said, in their best avuncular voices. “I’ve seen it all in my career. At this point, I’m the closest thing we have to omniscience. Methuselah and I.”
So what did we learn from these wise old owls? That the most dangerous country in the world isn’t
Score one for the owls.
Must I describe the goings on in
Oh, those wacky friends of ours. Sometimes they get a little carried away with their fascistic tendencies. But that’s OK. Because they have their roles to play, and we have ours. In this case, our role is Benefactor. We continue to supply our buddies in
At times like this, I guess there’s nothing else you can do than point out how strange it is to be Uncle Sam these days. Essentially, we’ve become a Thespian-Superpower. Sometimes we’re funding military dictators who violently oppress any signs of dissent. Other times, we’re saying things like “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”
That was a quote from President Bush, back when we claimed to believe in freedom. It was thrown back at us from Harvard trained Beazir Bhutto, who now lives under house arrest under the orders of our beneficiary, Fuhrer Musharraf. When Bhutto doesn’t realize is that our roles have changed. In our current part, we’re not just playing the Benefactor. We’re playing the wise, old practitioner of real politique. The scriptwriter in the sky – or in the bunker, as the case may be – is telling us that if we push back against Fuhrer Musharraf, we’ll somehow unleash the nukes of war. For practical reasons, then, we have to actively support tyranny.
Funny, but Hitler probably had his own practical justifications, didn’t he?
Let’s leave aside the issues of shifting alliances, rhetoric, or even morality. Let’s see if there’s a greater lesson to be learned here. I say it’s this: given how friggen fickle and hypocritical all countries are, given how difficult it is to trust what a world leader says, and given how dangerous American weapons of mass destruction have become, it is incumbent on our nation to choose our wars very, very, very carefully. We can give this reason or that reason for invading, but who is going to believe us? And when we attack another country for reasons that aren’t readily apparent, but have to be unearthed from “secret intelligence,” you can believe that the world won’t support us and our enemies will fight us tooth and nail.
Then again, maybe we don’t care. What’s another 30 or 40 thousand American casualties? And what’s another trillion or two in debt? Once you’ve made this much of a mess, it doesn’t feel like you can dig any deeper.
Of course, no sooner do I say that than I see the grizzled faces of Biden and Dodd remind me of Dante. Just when you think you’ve found the deepest circle of Hell, there’s always another one deeper still.