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The elephant in the living room isn’t just standing there pretending to be invisible anymore. It’s trumpeting, stamping, swinging its trunk and knocking over lamps and furniture. It’s dropping dung faster than the handlers can shovel. Even the most oblivious among us, who’d prefer to go on sipping tea, munching watercress sandwiches and ignoring the obvious, can no longer avoid seeing, and smelling, the appalling mess.
Say these things out loud if you do not yet see the elephant:
Iraq had nothing whatever to do with 9/11 and presented no threat to the United States. Afghanistan is a disgraceful catastrophe. Iraq is an even bigger mess. Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and Saddam Hussein are still at large. Here at home, unemployment is sky-high. The states are going belly-up, crime is rising, car thieves caught in the act are being turned loose with a ticket, the streets are full of the walking dead. Logging trucks loaded with old-growth trees roll down western Interstate highways. We have the largest budget deficit in the history of the world, and it is daily growing while the obscenely rich fill their pockets with tax cuts.
Meanwhile, North Korea threatens to go nuclear and the leader of the free world can’t even pronounce the fucking word. The man who injured himself while eating a pretzel leads a party which wants to make gay marriage a big campaign issue. What’s next? Bruce-Willie Horton ads?
At the president’s insistence, we have dug up huge parts of Iraq looking for “weapons of mass destruction,” only to uncover nothing but the still-reeking specter of Vietnam. Our soldiers, clanking around in 115 degree heat, are sitting targets who no longer bother to conceal their anger at the people who sent them to hell with no plan to bring them back. Imagine Phoenix without air conditioning, electricity, water or Mexican food, with people shooting at you. (Perhaps some of the relatives of the more than 6,000 Iraqi civilians we killed while trying to “help” them are upset with us?)
Even the lowest grunt now understands that he or she is being asked to die not for America but for Bechtel, Halliburton and oil money.
If you have begun to see the elephant, do you also see the saddlebags? They are stuffed with more than $30 million in kickbacks — excuse me, campaign contributions.
The president, caught telling a bald-faced lie in a State of the Union address, meaning he lied to Congress along with all the rest of the country to persuade us into this abyss, first allows his CIA chief to take the blame, then announces that he “stands behind him.” If worse comes to worst, he can accept Cheney’s resignation, or Rice’s. This is the same kind of raw courage he showed during the Vietnam war when the Texas Air National Guard sent him to Alabama, where his commanding officer says he never reported for duty.
It reminds me of nothing more than the trial a few years ago in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, at which a Ku Klux Klan supporter testified that he thought the KKK was a charitable organization that delivered fruit baskets to the rural poor and needy.
Appointing an Iraqi civilian “council,” which must report to U.S. officials, and claiming that these unelected Iraqis are now “in control” is the same kind of witless lie. If our government officials feel they have to mislead us, couldn’t they at least have enough respect to do it with some degree of grace, imagination and cleverness?
The perception of the president of the United States as not merely a deceiver but a preposterous, cowardly liar who lets other people take the heat for his actions is now almost universal. Would it be insanely naive to hope that there are people, even in this White House, who can’t stand it, who understand at some level that their loyalty to the country (and to humanity) must out-weigh their loyalty to George W. Bush?
Would it be fanciful to wish that someone in power besides Sen. Robert Byrd and one or two others would speak out forcefully and eloquently against the mounting pile of fertilizer and the sheer stench of it?
Here’s the bad news: Getting the elephant (and the elephant manure) out of the living room is going to take more then a bunch of donkeys running around in elephant costumes. While some Democrats take their own pre-emptive action by hastening to distance themselves from the concept of gay marriage, perish the very THOUGHT, others labor to defend their votes in favor of Bush’s Iraqi adventure. “We were deceived,” they bray. And some even argue that while it was wrong to send them before, now it would make sense to send even MORE troops into Saddam’s shooting gallery.
I admire more than one of these candidates. I may wind up voting for one of them, I don’t know. But to get my vote they’re going to have to show me they know the difference between elephant shit and watercress sandwiches.
DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here.
He can be reached at: email@example.com
Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com