One rather disturbing trend I’ve noticed in the last week has been the attitude of some of the Bush supporters who seem to think that even if it’s true that Bush was planning the war in Iraq in the summer of 2002, Saddam was a bad guy — he had weapons of mass destruction and he was implicated in 9/11 — so whatever we could do to get rid of him was justifiable. (Neither of which was true, but never mind…) And even if Bush committed an impeachable offense, Bill Clinton got a blowjob in the White House and lied about it. So there.
Does anybody really think that the Downing Street Memo will bring about the immediate inquiry into how and why we went to war in Iraq and possibly lead to the House drawing up articles of impeachment? Did someone just see a pig fly? The Republicans get a great deal of mileage out of accusing liberals of moral relativism — having a sliding scale for what’s right and what’s wrong, and they bunch all of their bete noires — abortion, gay rights, fluoridated water — in with the cultural decline of our society. However, they never seem to include with that outrage over their own examples of moral lapses. Tom DeLay and Trent Lott made a lot of noise when the United States helped in the Bosnian conflict and assured America that it was their patriotic duty to speak out against a war that they felt was unjustifiable and unwinnable. Five years later when Democrats spoke out against the war in Iraq, Mr. DeLay and Mr. Lott accused them of treason. When Bill Clinton had his moral failings, William Bennett, author of the Book of Virtues, shook his jowls on national television and said that this was a horrible example for a leader to convey to our children. The TV cameras didn’t show Mr. Bennett’s arm in a sling from the tendonitis he developed while pulling the lever on the slots in Vegas. Perhaps the capper of it all is Arthur Finkelstein, who made a very good living working for Jesse Helms and campaigning against any form of recognition of gay rights, gay marriage, or promotion of the fictional “homosexual agenda.” He took some time out from his gay-bashing last winter to go to Massachusetts and get married — the only place he and his boyfriend could do so. So these people will seize every opportunity to debunk, derail, and deflect any questions about the validity of their pursuit of war, and they will to anything it takes to put a stop to any inquiry, and they’ll demonize anyone who asks for one because they cannot accept the fact that they ever do anything illegal, immoral, or fattening. And that is why we must insist on one.
It won’t happen overnight. The recent unmasking of Deep Throat and the nostalgic look back at Watergate reminds us that it took over two years — from June 17, 1972 to August 9, 1974 — to move from a “third-rate burglary” to the inauguration of Gerald Ford. The investigation by the House and Senate didn’t begin until ten months after the burglary, and that was when the Democrats ran them both. Woodward and Bernstein were ignored by every other news outlet, and it was not until the summmer of 1973 when John Dean testified before the Ervin committee and Alexander Butterfield revealed the the existence of the White House tapes that the ball begin to get rolling.
Thirty years later, twenty-five years after the advent of 24/7 news and barely five years into the invention of the blog, we expect instant answers because we can’t wait for the slow inexorable exposure to work its way up. We can’t cat-blog forever, you know. But if this story is to be held to the highest standards of finding the irrefutable truth, it must be done with the care and tenacity that will leave no questions unaddressed. We may not have a Deep Throat, and every blogger is not Woodward and Bernstein. The resistance will be strong because the people who are the focal point of it are masters of the straw man and situational morality. They will accuse us of having an agenda. They’re right — we do have one. To find out the truth.
You know what I’d really like to see? I’d like to find out that it didn’t happen — that the Downing Street Memo is a fake and that George W. Bush didn’t conspire with his allies to perpetrate a massive fraud on the citizens of the United States to get us into a war. Because if he did, it would mean that he really does lack the moral leadership to be in office beyond any acceptable level of tolerance of this nation, which in the last forty years has been sorely tested, and that we as a nation have fallen down as far as he has in order to allow him to be our leader. That says more about us than is does about him, and that really bothers me.