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Gov. Tommy Thompson Is No Moderate on Iraq

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Message Michael Leon
Madison, Wisconsin - Among the presumed Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential nomination is former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary, Tommy G. Thompson.

Tommy, as he is known here, is widely given credit as a superior politician on the state level - an all-around nice guy who kept the Armageddon-is-coming, religious right crowd mostly in check during his unprecedented four terms as Wisconsin Governor (1987 to 2001).

Yet, in an incredible piece of ahistorical and provincial journalism yesterday, Madison's progressive daily newspaper, The Capital Times, editorialized that Tommy Thompson deserves credit for political "independence" because of his fashioning a position on Iraq at odds with the Bush administration.

The editorial (Feb. 13, 2007) approvingly quotes Thompson from his recent piece in the Des Moines Register: "Common sense - and history - says that you can't force people who hate each other to live together," writes Thompson.

Praises The Capital Times: "Give Thompson credit for displaying some independence."

Recognize, as well, that the long-shot presidential contender's willingness to explore alternatives is what makes him a better political player than those Republicans who march in lockstep behind Bush and Vice President Cheney."

No Moderate

Forget about it. Thompson has been a reliable lockstep political solider for Bush for years (although powerless to deliver Wisconsin to Republican presidential nominees), and it is only at this moment after some two-thirds of the public is pushing for withdrawal from Iraq that Thompson belatedly has stated positions differing from the Bush administration's.

As recently as February 18, 2005, after his tenure (2001-2005) with the Bush administration was over, Thompson appeared on the Bill Maher show, Real Time and gushed about Bush and Iraq throughout the hour:

"George Bush has got to have a lot of credit for (the Iraqi elections) because he had the courage to stand (up)..."

Thompson went on about Bush's "perseverance and the leadership" that only wished "freedom for the world."

So where the hell was Thompson's voice in 2002-2003? Certainly not speaking out against the deceit foisted upon the American people to justify the illegal invasion, though a Bush cabinet member's dissenting voice to "explore alternatives" would have been nice.

But after 3,100 dead Americans and the 10,000s mortally wounded and traumatized (not to mention the 100,000s of Iraqis so brutalized), and with the Iraqi and American people demanding withdrawal, Thompson NOW says that "you can't force people who hate each other to live together," though no mention is made of Bush's lies that sold the war, or America's right to invade sovereign countries and impose whatever government we think will assure American corporations control over Iraqi oil.

Any effort to present an independent Thompson who has made his faltering national political career by ingratiating himself to Bush, Cheney and right-wingers like the Council for National Policy is absurd.

The Capital Times ought to know better.
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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at maleon64@yahoo.com.
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