As regular gentle readers will know (that’s you Bob!) I’ve been AWOL from discussion of Bush, Kerry and the election for some time now.
Burn out, depression, same old-same old – who knows? All I know is that I couldn’t sustain the level of horror and disbelief required to continue watching the sad, sick sideshow that the war, the candidates and the run up to the election has become.
(Well, I watched it… fairly pathologically… but I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.)
And then I saw respected investigative journalist, author and New Yorker magazine contributor Seymour Hersh on Jon last night, touting his latest offering, the sobering ‘Chain of Command – The Road from 9/11 to Abu Grhaib’ and I found new heights (or depths) for my horror to grow.
(My horror is like the biggest fatty you ever saw – sometimes I give it bonbons in the form of reading the Op Ed section of the New York Times and sometimes I put it on a diet by religiously clicking past CNN without a peep or a peek. But I’m inconsistent – it’s why my horror is consistently flabby…)
Hersh, a veteran commentator (he originally broke the story of the My Lai massacre, winning a Pulitzer for his troubles so many historically ignored moons ago) was appearing on the Daily Show to discuss the book that details the White House’s single-minded pursuit of an attack on Iraq following through to the prison scandal in Abu Grhaib.
There was plenty there to discuss, plenty to ratchet up my already over-loaded horror quotient (or HQ as I now think of it) with speculation on the raw sewage that’s going to enter the atmosphere on wings when the truth about the even more horrific goings on at the Guantanamo prison come to light… the political nature of virtually every decision that surrounded covering up the various nightmares… and the fingerprints traceable to Vice President Dick Cheney visible on nearly every revolting, spine-chilling incident.
It’s funny – I’ve heard so much of it before (though with a few new twists and tweaks each time) that it’s beginning to sound like rote. It’s what makes the situation bearable though; all these ‘no surprises’
surprises, my eye fixed firmly on the White House and the American public, and trying, trying, trying to understand why a good 50% of them don’t see what the rest of Americans and the rest of the world see. How they can be sound asleep to the disconnect between Afghanistan and Iraq, Bin Laden and Saddam, serving in the military and allowing influence to include you out. You know – the usual.
So I guess in a way I’ve become saturated –there’s only so much insanity you can take before you have to step back and start taping 30-something reruns… letting the ‘same old, same old’ discussion swirl about you like so many buzzing, blundering bumble bees. But then Hersh said something that made me sit up and stop speculating on how Jon would look in a double-breasted navy pinstripe set off with a red tie, taking horrible notice of a truth I seriously hadn’t considered.
It’s not about oil and money.
According to Hersh, the real truth, the real horror - and the sorrow and the pity - is that people are on the wrong track if they believe in the conspiracy theories – theories so old and so familiar, they’re in danger of becoming as comfortable as a lullaby.
It’s not a conspiracy… it’s much, much worse.
The real road, the actual path to truth and righteousness, and the reason more than a thousand Americans and well over 10,000 Iraqis have lost their lives (and thousands upon thousands of others are injured or maimed or driven mad by the sights they’ve seen) is that Bush, Cheney, and the gang of neo-con ‘Zealots and Utopians’ that run the White House actually believe that they were right to go to Iraq. Right to bring death and destruction and misery raining down from above. Right to believe – and still believe - they can bring shiny American democracy into the lives of those they have literally and figuratively tortured for going on 2 years now.
That ‘flowers in the street, happy Iraqis welcoming the troops’ crap? They believed it. Setting up a government and patting it into place (and on the head) before cheerily saying a hail and farewell and trotting off to do the same thing to the rest of the Middle East? All in the original plan. Improving the US reputation as the planet Earth’s moral authority? You betcha. Getting the support of Americans who would march like sleepwalkers into the polling booths to endorse four more years of the same? Priceless.
And it’s happening right now.
The first of the debates is tonight and most of the pundits are already handing it to Bush, along with the oath of office and an order of fries – but there’s still hope: Americans must wake up. I believe it, Hersh believes it – he has to.
It reminds me of the film – a true story – about possibly the most famous sleepers ever, described by Dr Oliver Sacks (based on a chapter in his book: ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’ and played by Robin Williams in the 1990 movie) who brought them back from frozen eternity for a few short months, before they slipped back into twilight.
There’s a scene that occurs before the ‘Awakenings’ when Sacks (Dr. Sayer in the film) consults with a doctor who had diagnosed many of the patients with the mysterious sleeping sickness years before; Sayer asks the doctor (Max von Sydow if memory serves) if he thinks the patients are are sentient – conscious, aware - inside the bodies that hold them prisoner. The doctor replies that of course they are not. But Sayer persists – why, he wants to know, is the doctor so sure?
“Because the alternative,’ the doctor replies, “is unthinkable.”
Rise and shine America.