|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Tuesday, August 31th, 2004
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|Among the most carefully cultivated of the Bush Administration myths is that of Mr. Bush as a “wartime president.” He describes himself as a “war president” at every opportunity; his proxies use the terms whenever they can. The phrases have no precise meaning, but then what myth does? Instead they’re meant to evoke images and associations: of a strong leader facing down adversity, of calm and courage in the face of danger, of difficult and unpopular means applied to achieve a higher end. They’re simultaneously a boast about Mr. Bush’s toughness and resolve, and an excuse to justify the latest Administration policy outrage against civil liberties, the economy, the environment, reason and good sense.
Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty and fought an undeclared war on Vietnam, but never boasted of himself as a war president. Franklin Roosevelt directed and won the most important military victory in modern history, and called war “a contagion.” Abraham Lincoln equated Presidential wars of choice with tyranny and monarchy. Mr. Bush’s justification for calling himself a “war President” is extremely dubious, especially considering that he’s not even fighting a war.
The Iraq debacle is not and never was a war. An invasion followed by an occupation is the only possible characterization, making Mr. Bush either an “invasion President” or an “occupation President”, but not a war President. The “war on terror” is not and never was a war. Acts of sabotage and murder against U.S. targets leading to an act of mass murder against U.S. citizens, followed by hot pursuit of the perpetrators in Afghanistan; that describes Al Qaida’s crimes and our reaction to them, but not a war. Mr. Bush could therefore call himself a “hot pursuit President”, even though he wasted the opportunity to finish the pursuit by sending our forces on a costly detour in Iraq.
“War talk by men who have been in a war is always interesting; whereas moon talk by a poet who has not been in the moon is likely to be dull” said Mark Twain. He probably hadn’t counted on war talk by a President who hasn’t served in a war who’s also a compulsive peddlar of moonshine. But since Mr. Bush lost the 2000 election by over half a million votes, I suppose he has about as much right to call himself a "war President" as he does to call himself a President at all.
The Afternoon Affront
That noted warrior William Safire declares victory for President Bush in Najaf in Monday’s N.Y. Times. Mr. Sadr’s Mahdi army turned an important mosque into a pillbox, killed or injured U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians, and reduced the town of Najaf to smoldering rubble. Persuaded to clear out by Iraq’s ranking Ayatollah, Mr. Sadr did so unmolested, while his army regrouped, surely to fight another day under his leadership. Enough victories of this type, and Mr. Bush will have to declare "peace with honor."
©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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