These past two weeks have seen the publication of Scott McClellan’s What Happened, and the long awaited release of the US Senate’s bipartisan report “Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information.” (http://intelligence.senate.gov/080605/phase2a.pdf)
Each, in or of itself, would have been damning sufficient, but combined they proved to be proof writ pan-globally — as if by B-52 sized skywriting aircraft — of the uncountable lies told by the administration that have resulted in uncountable losses of lives and limbs and psyches and precious treasure.
_It isn’t the falseness of a statement that makes of it a lie; or, in legal jargon, a tortuous misrepresentation. It’s the intent to motivate the recipient of the statement to rely upon it as a truth, when in fact the issuer knew, or “should have known” it was false.
_March 22, 2002, the President unequivocally said: “[Saddam] possesses the world's most dangerous weapons;” not “is pursuing” or “attempting to gain,” but [right this moment] “possesses the world’s most dangerous weapons.” As if there might be any misunderstanding whatsoever how George Bush intended we define “most dangerous,” on December 31, New Years Eve (How metaphorically fitting that the promulgation be on an “eve” of a New, or “different” era, for all the change that he intended would replace all that had been the constituent characteristics of American democracy and foreign policy.) of 2002, President bush warned, “facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
_On September 8, 2002, Vice-President Cheney insisted the entirety of the intelligence community — and, by extension, all in the administration most charged with the defense of the country — held that the nightmarish panoply of WMD was already in the hands of Saddam Hussein, and that furthermore that conclusion was, via “irrefutable evidence,” known “with absolute certainty.”
_With “absolute certainty,” I could pull from the seven-years-too-deep bin the too-many-to-count instances Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Rice made statements they were absolutely certain were to the sale, but which were equally without the kind of evidence that would back any reasonable person’s statement of “certainty.”
_The “change” the country and the world hunger for is for a legitimate sense of genuine, not feigned, integrity. No one is so naïve as to suppose the president can at every turn be fully forthright. Some issues of national security will only make the country insecure if they reach the public forum. But we and the world want to know that the U.S. president is an honest and decent person, not prone to confecting spurious renditions of a fact or set of facts, or a total fiction, out of some possible or deluded quest on behalf of personal or political gain, or salvation.
_That collective furious hunger — that our government truly manifest abiding integrity — is the “change” that both candidates for president, McCain and Obama, have claimed to be all about. But are both of them as believable as they would lead us to believe? What does the evidence, not their postulations, tell us?
_Relative to Senator Barack Obama, there is nothing in his past that doesn’t speak to the highest standards of decency, of kindness, grace and of concern for all Americans, and that all America recover from the Bush seven-year detour of this country’s road to a “more perfect union.” Not one even momentary pause or slip from the highest possible example of what composes human dignity.
_But then, what about Senator John McCain? He has proudly claimed the mantle of a “straight-talking” “maverick” bent on “change.” Has his talk always been straight? Is he in fact a “maverick,” so distant from either George Bush or George Bush’s Republican Party? What evidence is available as a clue to the validity of either of Arizona’s senior senator’s well advertised, highly touted claims?
_If voting 100% with George Bush since January 1 of this year, and 95% of the time with the president, for the past seven years, makes one a maverick, well then, sho ‘nuff pahdner, that John McCain is one independent-minded cowboy.
One note of interest to bear in mind, however: Quantitatively, not necessarily qualitatively, Senator McCain has the poorest voting record of every member of either the House or Senate. The senator has thus far in the 110th Congress missed 335 votes; 59.2%. The only senator who approaches the Arizona senator’s dismal record is Tim Johnson of South Dakota; 54.9%. Senator Johnson, however suffered a near fatal brain hemorrhage right after winning reelection November 2006, and was out several months recovering and recuperating.
_Last week, supplemental information surfaced concerning the $40 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract that was awarded to Northrup-Grumman. Boeing had been presumed to have had the bidding edge. Nonetheless, supposedly, as a watchdog guarding taxpayer dollars, Senator McCain supported the deal that will outsource thousands of American jobs to Northrup’s partner, European Aeronautic Defense and Space. Because Senator McCain was taking a lot of flak for his position, his campaign turned to CAGW (Citizens Against Government Waste) for some interference help. As it turns out, CAGW had early on teamed with Northrup to urge Americans to back the deal. Could it be pure “straight-talkin’” coincidence that one of CAGW’s board members is Orson Swindle, one of McCain’s best friends, or that the Arizona senator has been, for years, the primary recipient of campaign cash from CAGW’s lobby PAC?
_If this past Friday’s disastrous stock market close is any indication, the country may well be headed to a deep recession that could border on an economic depression. Also this past week we learned, via a Senate hearing, that contributory to the soaring fuel prices Americans and American businesses are laboring under, is a black hole in the commodity trading regulations that exempt from regulation electronic trading of energy futures.
The name of the exempting law is the Enron Loophole, inserted into an 11,000 page 2000 farm bill by then Texas Senator, and now McCain economic advisor, Phil Gramm. And lo and behold, wouldn’t you know it: Phil Gramm’s wife, Wendy, was on the Enron board when the exemption was slipped into the bill. Coincidence that Phil Gramm was the author of the exemption? Coincidence that both Mr. Gramm and Senator McCain have opposed ditching the exemption from regulation? Coincidence that one of Senator McCain’s most frequently heard palliatives for curing the economic ills that ail us is for less federal regulation?