Now that the holiday season has started in earnest, Bing Crosby sings of a White Christmas from speakers across the land. It is unlikely Bing was dreaming of a White Phosphorous Christmas, but that is what our military gave Fallujah last November. Maybe they considered it an early holiday gift. White phosphorous and torture; gifts that keep on giving—giving pain and suffering, not to mention giving a grossly hypocritical face to the world.
When Congresswoman Barbara Lee offered the lone vote against giving President Bush authority to use force after 9/11, she said "Let us not become the evil we deplore." It is clear our administration has not heeded this warning. We justified war by accusing Saddam of using chemical weapons on the Iraqi people; now we have used chemical weapons on the Iraqi people. We accused Saddam of torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib; now we have done the same, there, and elsewhere. And yet our government continues to wear a righteous face, calling Iraqi torture of Iraqi prisoners "totally unacceptable" when we are guilty of the same grievous acts.
There is a common psychological principle known as projection. Projection is a defensive mechanism by which people attribute their own undesirable traits and impulses to other people; they perceive motives in others that they deny having themselves. The liar, for example, is sure everyone else is lying. The aggressive person accuses others of being belligerent. When Cheney recently called anti-war voices "dishonest," "irresponsible," "corrupt," "shameless" and "dangerous," it sounded like a classic case of projection at work. Our administration appears to suffer from mass-projection—they attribute countless evils not only to Saddam and terrorists (who are of course guilty of heinous acts) but to the peace movement and anyone else who dares to question their motives. All the while, they are unwilling and unable to look at themselves in the same mirror.
It has often been said that Bush lives inside a bubble—surrounded by Yes men and women who keep telling him he's doing a heck of a job, despite his crumbling poll numbers and disastrous policies. In keeping with the season, we can think of Bush's bubble as a snow globe; when we try to shake things up, it only reinforces the administration's delusional and insular world view. "Look at the lovely snow falling," they say, while the world seethes just outside their thin plastic dome.
As long as Bush and Cheney remain in office, the pathological lies and abuse will continue. Many Republicans, like Libby and Cunningham, have started to see the consequences of their unethical behavior. Let's hope the walls of the snow globe will shatter and Bush and Cheney will brought to similar justice soon. A White House Evicting Christmas—now that is worthy of a dream.
Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write and The Book of Dead Birds: A Novel, which won Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change.