"Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."
William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming," 1920.
If President Bush ever read those apocalyptic lines, surely
he's reminded of them now. He must be aware that his plans are not
working out the way he was told they would, and he must fear that his
administration is falling apart, the center not holding.
Of course, had the president been an English major, he would
have also read those lines in Robert Burns' "To a Mouse" reminding us
"The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
And had the president read more prose, he might have sensed
the dissatisfaction of many others still occupying this world.
Here's what Kurt Vonnegut, author of "Slaughterhouse Five"
(the best novel, I think, to come out of W.W.II), had to say a year and
a half ago about the president's war: "We're spreading democracy, are
How ungrateful are the people of Baghdad
.So let's give another
big tax cut to the super-rich
Anyway, I'm starting to feel a little sorry for the
president. He's been taking a lot of flak, not all of it from
Democrats. He seems to have a reverse Midas touch whereby everything he
touches turns towell, you know. And for that he's being ganged up
on. To wit:
Remember the nuclear weapons we said Iraq had? Scott Ritter,
a former UN weapons inspector who labels himself a "Reagan Republican,"
said last month that even before the war "The Iraq Survey Group, headed
by David Kay, found that Iraq had destroyed the totality of its nuclear
weapons program and confirmed what the CIA had already said about them
having destroyed it as far back as the summer of 1991
.This is a war
that's not worth the life of one American because it's a war based on a
After the president said a little over a month ago that "The
United States of America does not torture," the bipartisan troublemaker
FactCheck.org took "a look at what has surfaced so far." It's not
pretty. FactCheck quotes Vice-President Cheney saying a few days after
the 9/11 atrocity that we'd need to work on the "dark side""A lot of
what needs to be done will have to be done quietly, without any
it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our
And the "Gonzales memo" a year later said that the U.S.
anti-torture law "would be unconstitutional if it impermissibly
encroached on the President's power to conduct a military campaign."
Get that? Cheney says we use "any means" in our retaliation.
Gonzales says the anti-torture law cannot keep the president from waging
war in any way he wants to. But there are objections.
The Truth, Mainly
Retired Admiral Stansfield Turner, former head of the CIA,
called Cheney "a vice president for torture," and said "I think it is
just reprehensible." Former president Jimmy Carter said "It is
embarrassing to see the president and the vice president insisting that
the CIA should be free to perpetuate cruel, inhumane, or degrading
treatment or punishment on people in U.S. custody."
Even the president's (and vice president's) church took a
position opposing that of the country's two leaders. In late October,
the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society lopsidedly voted
in favor of a resolution calling for withdrawing US forces in Iraq: "As
people of faith, we raise our voice in protest against the tragedy of
the unjust war in Iraq. Thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds
of billions of dollars wasted in a war the United States initiated and
should never have fought
.We grieve for all those whose lives have
been lost or destroyed in this needless and avoidable tragedy. Military
families have suffered undue hardship from prolonged troop rotations in
Iraq and loss of loved ones. It is time to bring them home."
Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., who, having been tortured as a
POW in a North Vietnam prison camp, said this on the CBS "Early Show":
"Mistreatment of prisoners is one of the factors that has caused us to
suffer so much in the eyes of the world. Torture doesn't work."
Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is questioning the legality of
President Bush's authorization of a surveillance program that allows
warrantless interception of telephone calls and e-mail of U.S.
citizens. Sen. Specter said he has "grave doubts" about the legality of
such surveillance. And U.S. District Judge James Robertson resigned in
what two associates said was a protest against the program.
So yeahall that suggests that things are falling apart and
the center cannot hold. The question is: Does the president get it yet?
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail