A few months ago, after returning empty handed from the snark-hunt for WMD in Iraq, Chief Weapons Inspector David Kay dropped a bombshell on the administration he was quitting, saying that there were, after all the unfortunate messiness, no WMD in that benighted country, no way, no how. Like characters extracted from a Lewis Carroll satire, the Hair-Brained Bushemites (who made the mess) covered their ears and spoke loudly in nonsense syllables. The whole scene was as deliciously insane as Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits", and so it continues. Government apparently remains, dollar for dollar, our best entertainment buy.
Except, of course, for the aforementioned messiness, which tempers the buffoonery considerably: corpses strewn from Falluja to Ramallah to those neat, out-of-sight-but-not-out-of-mind rows of coffins at Dover; wastebaskets full of amputated body parts on the bio-hazard loading docks at Landstuhl and Walter Reed; and (tens of?) thousands of nameless "detainees" twitching in wordless despair under US, surrogate, and mercenary boot-heels from Guantanomo to Abu Ghraib to Baghram, to who knows where else.
Given all this inconvenient reality, it wasn't surprising to hear Inspector Kay add the following excuse to his "no WMD" proclamation: "We were all wrong!" After all, when things fall apart, it is always comforting (and exonerating) to know that no one could have predicted the disaster. This is the same shameless cop-out that others have used to explain being asleep at the wheel on 9/11: "No one could have predicted it." Claptrap, but marginally useful claptrap nonetheless...if that's all you have to hang your hat on.
So the (tens of?) millions of us in this country who were right all along about Iraq and about the utter depravity of the Bush regime are scratching our heads right now. The Nominee-in-Waiting of the Party that opposes the Mendacity on the Hill is spouting the same brand of claptrap, and I, for one, am as pissed as the prescient Scott Ritter was when David Kay lumped him in with the voluntarily blindfolded.
The offending statement was made in a speech yesterday at Westminster College, where John Kerry said: "We stand on the eve of an anniversary in this country -- the day that major combat operations were declared over in Iraq and the president declared, 'mission accomplished.' I don't think there's anyone in this room today or 6,000 miles away who doesn't wish that those words had been true." (emphasis mine)
Excuse me, Senator, but that - like Kay's "We were all wrong" and Condi Rice's "No one could have predicted it" - is an insulting banality that ignores recent history. The "mission" that you claim everyone is rooting for is the same one I protested against in Augusta Maine, in New York City and twice in Washington DC, before the invasion that you enabled; I was just one of millions who did so. We are still protesting against that misbegotten mission which, by the way, will never be accomplished.
Furthermore, I believe you know it will fail. You must; you are not stupid and, also unlike the Bush brigade, you experienced first-hand how such missions inevitably fail - when you fought in Vietnam and returned home to disclose the folly and the horror. But that was then. Now you're promising to send more kids like your former self to the same kind of made-in-USA disaster you escaped from and railed against thirty-three years ago. In your Westminster speech yesterday you also said, "This may be our last chance to get this right." I'm sorry, Senator, but this cannot be gotten right. Is Joe Lieberman (possibly channeling Hubert Humphrey) writing your speeches, for god's sake? Like them (and, once again, like David Kay) you are clamoring for the ratcheting up of military manpower in full-bore pursuit of a patently lost cause. Here's a novel concept: why don't you hire a pollster to ask the Iraqis what they'd like us to do?
Speaking of ratcheting up troop levels, this reminds me of the following questions I've been meaning to ask you, Senator Kerry: If you are elected, how soon after the November election will my 18 year-old son be conscripted? Do you have the courage to answer me truthfully? When will he be asked to kill or die in the desert (or elsewhere) now that the volunteer wells have run dry? Let me in on your plan for the draft, if you have one. My son, who plans to vote this November, is also curious.
Just a few more questions: Do you intend to maintain or expand Bush's outrageous, extra-legal, global system of concentration camps, or just maintain it as is? I have listened intently to your eloquent silence concerning that growing blot on our nation's soul. And what about the high-priced, unaccountable mercenary hordes our tax dollars are funding - like the war itself - at the expense of our schools, roads, hospitals and veterans benefits? Any thoughts on that?
Is the black hole you want to lead us into a lighter shade than Bush's? Is it shallower?
You have lost your bearings, Senator Kerry. I will not follow you to wherever your broken compass leads. Get it fixed, or forget your quest for my vote, the votes of the millions I marched with, and the coming majority in our country who see clearly through this insanity.
Get it fixed, or you might as well forget your quest for a new job, as well. Someone is already doing as bad a job as you are promising to do. When failure is inevitable, I would just as soon see a Republican go down in flames, thank you very much.
In the meantime, speak for yourself, Senator.
Bruce Cole (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a carpenter, writer, songwriter and political activist, living in Maine. He recently helped draft legislation, which eventually passed, that outlaws paperless and Internet voting in the state. He is a delegate to the state Democratic Convention this month