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Not to make light of either the recent Senate Armed Senate Committee Hearing on the nomination of General George Casey to be appointed as Army Chief of Staff, nor of certain parts of the Catholic Rite of Renunciation of Sin and Profession of faith, yet, I couldn't help but find some similarities between the two.
The entire process seemed to be so formulaic, with so many prepared questions and so many prepared answers-as if no one wanted to be caught off-guard by the questions asked, or thrown off-guard by the answers given.
Senator Carl Levin, D. Michigan, began the questioning of General Casey by stating that there are a, "series of standard questions" which must be asked , thus he began his litany of standard questions, to wit-
"do you agree, if confirmed for this high position, to appear before this Committee and other Committee of Congress?
This was followed by Casey's answers,
Then General Casey was asked by Senator Levin,
"Do you agree, when asked, to give your personal views, even if those views differ from the Administration in power."
General Casey's reply was:
"Yes."(Casey of course knew that he'd better give a, YES answer to that question if he wanted to even have a chance of being confirmed.
Next question standard question, asked by Senator Levin,
"Do you agree, if confirmed, to appear before this Committee, or designated members of this Committee, and provide information, subject to appropriate and necessary security protection, with respect to your responsibilities as the Chief of Staff, Army?"
In the light of so much hubris from the Bush Administration to go over the heads of Congress to do whatever the Administration wants, without regard to congressional oversight, this question, in particular, sounded like Senator Levin was inadvertently, in wanting to extract assurances from General Casey that he would follow protocol, setting him up as the point of least resistance between two opposing forces. You know that point in a rope which receives the most pull from two opposing forces and usually ends up going to one side or another...
One could also think of it as General Casey being the third leg of a triangle, with Bush and Congress being the other two, and with Levin wanting to ascertain from General Casey that he would not be pulled in by the Bush forces against the United States Congress.
Casey's answer to the question was, of course, the expected,
These questions formed a resounding echo in my head, so similar, i thought, to the questions asked of a child's godparents, by the priest, during the sacrament of baptism, and some times to the general congregation during certain parts of the Mass at Easter:
Do you reject Satan, father of sin and price of darkness?"
Parents and godparents: "I do."
In my head this became akin to Senator Levin asking Casey, Do you promise to be good? Do you promise to keep the pecking order? Do you Promise that you will respect your duties to this Congress, this Oversight Committee and the Constitution of the United States even if you have to go against the rogue Bush Administration?
General Casey, knowing what is good for him, and wanting to be confirmed, answered, YES, to all of the question.
Just like godparents and congregants alike know that the Answer to the priest's questions, for their good, that of their lives and the life of the child being entrusted to them as a godchild is, "Yes, we reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness.
"Do you agree to ensure that testimony, briefings and other communications of information are provided to this Committee and its staff and other appropriate Committee? Do you agree to provide documents, including copies of electronic forms of communication, in a timely manner when request by a duly constituted Committee, or to consult with the Committee regarding the basis for any good faith delay or denial in providing such documents?"
Casey's answer continued to be a resounding, YES, to all of the above question but in the light of so much Bush anti-congress oversight, one wonders, did he really mean his Yeses as he gave them, or was he saying, Yes but meaning , NO?
Something, somewhat, akin to sinners who know how to give the right answers to the priest but, who, keep falling into sin or darkness over and over again, i.e.
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
Parents and godparents: I do.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, an is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Parents and godparents: I do.
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
Parents and godparents: I do.
(Good answers all given to the priest, only to find the need to return to the confessional time and time again.)
So, were General Casey's Yeses something more akin to George Herbert Walker Bush's, "Read My Lips. No New Taxes?"
"Ha!" Like Chris Matthews likes to say.
Once the series of standard questions were over, Levin and other Senators then plowed ahead with their questioning of General Casey.
Levin moved on to read a statement made by General (Fallon? Or was it that of General Petreaus?) during his Senate Hearing in which the General backed his position on Iraq by quoting a conversation he had had with General Casey.
This happened to reflect a contradictory position held by Casey between November 2006 January 2007,
in which, General Casey's position in November 2006 was that there would be no need for an increase of troops in Iraq, and his current January/February 2007 position supporting Bush's call for a troop surge in Iraq.
Levin wanted to know if General's (Fallon? Or again, was it General Petreaus's) view reflected Casey's own view and, if it did, Levin wanted to know, why was Casey modifying his view on the need for a troop surge since November to now in just such a few two short months' since.
General Casey's answer, seemed to reflect that of a game player, someone who knows how to advance himself; one who wants to make the moves which will keep him on top of the game.
His answer was that his change in positions had to do with the fact that in November there had been a request for a troop surge with no plan attached to it, but that there now was a plan that was being attached to the troop surge and that, "just to say you need more forces is one thing; to say that you need more forces to execute such a plan is another."
A mouth dropping statement, I believe, from General Casey who was doing a lot of hemming and hewing in trying to justify his change of heart on the troop surge.
And so, each Senator took their turn in asking questions of General Casey.
For the most part, what I came to view as the Casey Rite of Confession before entering the Promised Land continued.
In some cases there was some castigating of General Casey as was the case with Senator McCain who was using General Casey's confirmation hearing to, once more, posture himself as a pro-war, hawk monger, President want-to-be for the 2008 presidential run.
And, Senator Clinton, dressed in a suit which sent a subliminal message to the troops that she supported them (and the fight in Iraq (?), wanted to know if General Casey could assure the Committee that if confirmed, he would see to it that every soldier in Iraq would have the necessary training and equipment for their protection in the United States' occupation of the Iraqi land?
It seems Senator Clinton, and many of the other Senators in that Committee, simply forgot the people's voices.
They seemed to have forgotten that they people's voices said, NO MORE WAR. NO MORE OCCUPATION. BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW!