This is the white-hot question right now gushing forth from the Far Left, from progressive blogs and liberal patriots and blue staters and angry anti-Bushers alike, and it is like a plea, a rallying call, an indignant stomp of deep frustration. It is this:
Why is the major American media not swarming all over the Downing Street Memos thing? Why is the entire nation not just appalled and disgusted and aghast at finding seemingly irrefutable proofs about what we all already knew, which is that BushCo planned to invade Iraq long before 9/11 and needed to find a way to justify it?
And, we now know, he was even willing to go so far as to rig the intelligence and "fix the facts" and screw the U.S. economy and screw any sort of exit strategy and screw the potential for lost lives and let's just blindly stomp on in there and bomb the living crap outta Saddam despite the undeniable pre-Iraq evidence that Saddam had zero WMDs and that his nuclear program was "effectively frozen," and despite how BushCo and the CIA and FBI and DOD and the Clinton administration and your grandma all knew it?
This is what the infamous Downing Street Memos allegedly contain, more undeniable proofs in the form of meeting notes with higher-ups in Britain and the U.S., talking about the supposedly "dire" threat of WMDs and nailing Iraq well before Bush was handed the tragic and morose political gift of 9/11 to leverage and whore and turn into his own personal Jesus.
And to be sure, the outcry from the Left is healthy and good and appropriate and only now are a handful of newspapers and magazines (you go, Newsweek) taking up the Downing Street Memo debacle, asking slightly more inflamed questions of BushCo.
So then, why isn't the media roaring more angrily about this? Why aren't the major players up in arms and trumpeting banner headlines and screaming for Bush to answer for his obvious and plentiful crimes against the nation and the Earth and peace?
Answer: Because it's not really news. Not anymore.
Because, to be honest, what the memos actually reveal is not quite as much as the extreme Left wishes they did, and while they certainly do reveal that Bush is a noted liar and distorter of fact and that we can easily deduce that his snarling war hawks torqued the Brits into complicity and mangled the U.N. laws and misled the American people into war perhaps more deviously and violently than any administration in recent American history, well, there is not a single thing in the words you just read that most of us did not already know.
It's true. There is, unfortunately, nothing here that not already been trumpeted to death by the Left, and therefore to try to trumpet it all again as some sort of irrefutable revelation that should change the face and temperament of the nation is sort of like beating a dead horse we all knew was already dead but that is only now taking on a new dimension of stink.
Look at it this way: The majority of the nation knows Bush lied like a dog to drive us into an unwinnable (but, for his cronies, incredibly profitable) war. The rest either refuse to believe it, or they claim, with equal parts ignorance and blind jingoism, that the ends (ousting a pip-squeak dictator who was no real threat to anyone and who had been successfully contained for 20 years) justify the means ($200 billion, 1,700 dead Americans, over 10,000 wounded and disabled U.S. soldiers, countless tens of thousands of dead innocent Iraqis, staggering economic debt, the open disrespect -- if not outright contempt -- of the entire international community).
Here is the American cynic's view: It is almost too late to care about the lies. It is almost pointless to scream and rant and point fingers of blame. We all know who is to blame, and it ain't Saddam, and it ain't Osama, and it ain't "terror," and it ain't our "freedoms." Bush has driven us so deep into the Iraq hellhole it serves almost no purpose to whine about the obvious deceptions and blatant whorelike pre-9/11 machinations that got us here.
We are now, instead, focused on endurance. On gritting teeth and getting through and getting the hell out of this new Vietnam Bush has imbecilically driven us into, all while surviving 3.5 more years of one of the most abusive, secretive cadres of warmongering leadership in American history.
Oh, and rest assured, Iraq is indeed a new Vietnam. The parallels are undeniable and mounting -- all the elements are in place: staggering civilian death tolls, inmate abuse and torture, international embarrassment, economic pillaging, executive impudence, a vicious drive toward empire and power, a false sense of "victory" and the overpowering sense we are so deeply entrenched in this violent, chaotic quagmire, it will take many more years and many thousands of more U.S. dead and countless more billions before we are anywhere near stabilization.
But oh, you might cry (and this column might regularly wail), shouldn't Bush be held accountable? Shouldn't he be made to answer for these lies, these obvious abuses of power?
Answer: You're goddamn right he should. He should also be strapped to an incredibly uncomfortable chair and made to look at the smoking bones of ten thousand dead Iraqi children. But that's just me.
The lies that led us into this war are indeed staggering, appalling, make Clinton's lies about his stupid little affair sound like, well, a stupid little affair. As Dubya's tanking poll ratings prove, even many moderate Republicans are backing away from calling Iraq a success, or even a necessary action. And Dems have recently begun demanding that BushCo develop some kind of exit strategy to begin pulling out U.S. troops within a year.
BushCo's answer? No way in hell, bucko. Impossible. And why? Because we are in way too deep. The violence is escalating, not dying down. Every major U.S. general, strategist, policy wonk says we are far too screwed to leave anytime soon. And "Mission accomplished" has become perhaps the most tragic punch line to one of the most bitter jokes ever told in your lifetime.
Let's just say it outright: Of course Bush deserves to be impeached. But of course Bush will not be impeached, because impeachment requires a massive federal investigation and an act of Congress and the support of countless senators and representatives, and right now the GOP controls Congress with a little iron penis, and therefore any sort of uprising or scandal or suggestion of punishment gets immediately slammed down or scoffed away or buried under an avalanche of shrugs and yawns and neoconservative smugness. Isn't that right, Mr. Gannon? Mr. DeLay? Abu Ghraib? Gitmo? Saddam? Et al.
BushCo survived the illegal sanctioning of inhumane torture. They survived a gay male prostitute acting as a journalist. They survived Enron and Diebold and the rigging of the first election and they will survive Downing Street simply because all the people who should be on the attack about these atrocities all work for the guys who committed them.
So then, the question is not merely when will the stack of lies, of abuses become so high, so unstable, so inexcusable that the entire nation finally takes notice and the whole house of cards comes crashing to the ground in a big nasty soul-jarring spirit-cleansing patriotism-redefining whoomp and smothers the whole lot of them, but rather, can it be soon enough?
And to that question, we all know the answer.
© 2005 San Francisco Chronicle