The past week in DC found me in many offices of our elected officials: Senators, Congresspersons, pro-war, "anti-war," Democrat, Republican. With a few notable exceptions, all of our employees toed party lines.
Thanks to those who met with me, because, except for Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), I was not their constituent. And I believe the Republicans who met with me, whether they knew it or not, were breaking with their leader on this, since he was too cowardly to meet with me.
The War Hawks I met with made my skin crawl. They so obviously are supporting a war that is not in our nation's best interest, nor is it making us more secure. I heard from Senators Dole (R-NC) and McCain (R-Ariz.) and Representative Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) about 9/11 and "fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here." That made me sick. George Bush and his lying band of imperialist greed-mongers exploited 9/11 and our national terror of other terrorist attacks to invade a country that had nothing to do with the attacks on our country. Now, in the aftermath of those lies, tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians are dead, and almost 2000 of our brave young men and women. What makes the Iraqi babies and families less precious than ours? The crime that these people committed was being born at the wrong place at the wrong time. George took his war OF terror to their doorsteps. I even asked Senator Dole when she thought the occupation would be able to end, and she was incredulous that I would even think of Iraq as an occupation: she sees it as a liberation. I really wanted to know how many of them we have to kill before she considered that they were liberated.
We didn't care about Saddam killing his own people after the first Gulf War, when George the First encouraged the people of Iraq to rise up against Saddam. We didn't care about the Iraqi children dying from the bombings and the sanctions during the Clinton years. All of a sudden in March 2003 those things became so important that it was urgent that our troops invade Iraq. Besides, the memo to Congress in which George asked for the authority to invade Iraq specifically mentions WMDs and terrorism - it says nothing about Saddam being a "bad guy" or about spreading "freedom and democracy" to Iraq. The reasons for our continued occupation change as fast as the old ones are proven lies.
It was horrible to talk to these three war-mongering Republicans; I almost felt like I had to take a shower after each visit, but they did not affect my resolve. Congresswoman Musgrave was openly hostile when we were ushered (by her very nice staff) into her office. Ms. Musgrave actually has a son in the service, but she got very defensive when I asked which branch of the service her son, who is stationed in Italy, was in. I was asking mother-to-mother, but she basically said it wasn't any of my business. I told her she must be very worried about her son and he would be in my prayers.
The War-Hawk Dems I met with were equally, if not more, disheartening. Although my meeting with Senator Clinton (D-NY) went well, I don't believe she will do anything to alleviate the suffering of the Americans in Iraq or the Iraqi people. I don't believe that sending more troops is the solution; it will only aggravate an already untenable situation. We met in NYC with Senator Charles Schumer's aide, who told us that the Senator thinks the occupation of Iraq is a "good thing for America," but he wouldn't elaborate on why. The aide was asked if the Senator had a vested interest in keeping this war going, because the Senator is certainly not stupid enough to believe that this misbegotten misadventure in the Middle East is good for anyone. I don't think the people of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi would agree with the Senator that this illegal occupation is a "good thing."
The "Anti-War" Dems perplex me the most, however. Except for the good guys, like the members of the Out of Iraq Caucus and a few Senators, the Democratic party line is that we must allow Iraq a window of two months' time, and after the referendum on the constitution this month and the parliamentary elections in December, it will be time to attack the failed policies of George and his cabal of liars.
In my meeting with Howard Dean, he told me that the Iraq issue was "hard," and the new Democratic "Contract with America" is going to have 10 points, and the first one is going to be "Universal Health Care." I told Mr. Dean that if the Dems didn't come out strongly against the war and against George's disastrous policies, we were going to become irrelevant as a party (which is already happening) and the "hard" issue should be the one that is worked on the hardest! I'll admit that the issue doesn't seem so hard to me: George and his sycophantic band of criminals lied to the world; too many people are dead for the lies; too many people are in harm's way for the lies; it is time to bring our troops home. I am just hoping against hope that the war is on the Dems' contract somewhere. George is always pulling out the old saw that what he does in sending our children to die and kill is "hard work." I hate to see that same adjective used to describe bringing them home. The war issue is not complicated: Wrong to invade and wrong to stay. Bring our troops home. Simple.
I think if one is not speaking out right now against the killing in Iraq, one is supporting it. I believe that the members of Congress who have always been, or are now, opposed to this war, need our 100 percent support, admiration, and encouragement. Everyone else needs to be prodded in the right direction. I implored every member I spoke to this past week (and during our bus trip) to lead our country out of the desert. I believe that if they did, America would follow them through fire to bring our troops home.
Finally, I was harrassed at the Capitol Building by a thug security guard, who screamed at me to get out of the building until my next appointment. I complained to another security guard about the disrespectful treatment that I had received from the other guard and he said that most of the employees were "Republicans" and they didn't appreciate what I was doing. I have news for them: this is not about politics - to me, this is about flesh and blood. This is not about right and left, this is about right and wrong. 19 troops were needlessly killed in Iraq this past week. 19 families were destroyed senselessly and avoidably. Hundreds of innocent Iraqis were killed for just being home that day, just being out shopping, or just going about their daily lives. An average of almost three of our young men and women are killed every day in George's abomination. While the War-Hawk Repbublicans are wrongfully supporting a wrongheaded war and the "anti-war" Dems are hemming and hawing about the politics of this administration's misguided and evil policies, how many more families will get the news that their lives have been destroyed in the tragic meantime?
What are they waiting for?