Last Monday was Presidents' Day and I found myself
experiencing something I never would have foreseen: I was feeling
sorry for President Bush.
Yes. I was. Here's why: rather than being honored on
Presidents' Day the way presidents are supposed to be, our current
White House occupant was being criticized all to hell and back. To
Carl Bernstein (you remember, the guy who with Bob Woodward
and Deep Throat brought Richard Nixon down in the Watergate scandal)
in a St. Valentine's Day interview on "Frontline," was asked to
compare President Nixon's relationship to the press with that of our
current President Bush. Here's part of what Bernstein said:
"Nixon's relationship to the press was consistent with his
relationship to many institutions and people. He saw himself as a
victim. We now understand the psyche of Richard Nixon, that his was a
self-destructive act and presidency.
"I think what we're talking about with the Bush administration
is a far different matter in which disinformation, misinformation, and
unwillingness to tell the truth
is something I have never witnessed
before on this scale
This is a presidency that is not willing to
tell the truth very often if it is contrary to its interests
Is that any way to talk about a president on St. Valentine's
Day, less than a week before Presidents' Day?
Or how about what a first-term member of the House, Rep.
Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.) was quoted as saying by Jonathan Weisman in
the Washington Post (also on St. Valentine's Day):
"We stand together to tell this administration that we are
against the escalation, and to say with one voice that Congress will
no longer be a blank check to the president's failed policies. The
president's plan to send more of our best and bravest to die
refereeing a civil war in Iraq is wrong."
And what does Rep. Murphy know about war in Iraq? He was a
captain in the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad, that's all.
Another veteran of the current war, 22-year-old Marine Corps
Sgt. Liam Madden, last month told a church audience in Norfolk, Va.
That "It is time for U.S. troops to come home
.Not one more of my
brothers should die for a lie. This is my generation's call to
Then there's what Frank Rich wrote about the president in his
Feb. 18 column in The New York Timesjust one day before Presidents'
"His real aim is to provoke war with Iran, no matter how
overstretched and ill-equipped our armed forces may be for that added
burden. By this line of thinking, the run-up to the war in Iraq is
now repeating itself exactly and Mr. Bush will seize any handy casus
belli he can to ignite a conflagration in Iran."
As if that weren't enough, Rich went on to say "Oh what a
malleable war Iraq has been. First it was waged to vanquish Saddam's
(nonexistent) nuclear arsenal and his (nonexistent) collaboration with
Al Qaeda. Then it was going to spread (nonexistent) democracy
throughout the Middle East. Now it is being rebranded as a fight
against Tehran. Mr. Bush keeps saying that his saber rattling about
Iran is not 'a pretext for war.' Maybe so, but at the very least it's
a pretext for prolonging the disastrous war we already have."
The Truth, Mainly
Well, you're probably saying, all of that vitriol probably
comes from Democrats doing what the party out of the White House is
supposed to do.
But Nebraska's own Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, isn't much
kinder to the President's war policy.
"We better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us,
before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder," he told the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month. "I don't think we've
ever had a coherent strategy
.This is a ping-pong game with American
But what really led to my sympathy for the president is what
got posted on the internet on Feb. 5. It's a piece by Richard W.
Behan called "From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with
Oil," and it tells us that "In the Caspian Basin and beneath the
deserts of Iraq, as many as 783 billion barrels of oil are waiting to
And, he charges, "The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were not
prompted by the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. They
were not waged to spread democracy in the Middle East or enhance
security at home. They were conceived and planned in secret long
before September 11, 2001 and they were undertaken to control
It gave me the fantods to read such an anti-American lie.
If you want to share my indignation, you can read it yourself
at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020707P.shtml or at
But don't go there unless you've got a strong stomach.
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail