Dirty George and the War Pigs

The president's war, his brother's fib, a black man's past, and Mayor Griffin's demise

Out on the Crawford ranch, the president morphs into Dirty George. He gets that swagger down, walking with his spurs about four feet apart. His arms he keeps bowed out like he might draw a pistol. He's the cowboy-hatted Bush who appeals strongly to his rural white base.

Sometimes he gets a squinty-eyed stare going, as if he were trying to channel Clint Eastwood. The man badly wants to be a tough Texan, to wipe away the wimp image that haunted his Eastern-elite daddy. Even as he declared war on Monday, Bush hearkened back to old west myth when he gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave town. But the president doesn't live up to the dark brand of archetypal American justice found in Eastwood's best films. He's more like the nervous cowboy who shoots before the other guy reaches for his gun.

Think of Harry Callahan's two most famous lines: "Do you feel lucky?" and "Go ahead, make my day." With both, he was daring the criminal to make a move, to give him one excuse to fire his .44. Why? To gain justification for the kill. Harry was a rogue, but he operated under a crude moral code. If he killed a defenseless villain or two, it was because the guy was a proven menace to his city, and it was the last resort.

Bush, though, is about to relentlessly bomb a country that has its hands in the air. He's about to murder thousands of innocent men, women, and children for no reason. And he's about to trudge our troops into war without any real evidence. The president's rationale, if we can call it that, is supposedly based on Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, the dictator's ties to al Qaeda, and the need to bring God and His freedom and democracy to the Arab world. These all have one thing in common: They completely lack an empirical, factual basis.

Bush is no Harry -- he's just harried. And it's painfully obvious that he fears U.N.-led Iraqi disarmament more than weapons of mass destruction. Cooperation from Saddam steals his chance to attack. Hence, the hurry to start bombing. The sad irony is that Bush's insincere maneuverings at the United Nations have actually led to a great diplomatic victory. But the president's bloodlust won't let him accept it.

Bush, the new policeman of the world, is a very bad cop. And he's about to put a lot of young American men and women at risk for no good reason. I wish our troops as swift and bloodless (on both sides) a victory as possible, but I'll never support the president's decision or the war pigs that helped him make it.

As for the swine, I'm talking about fundamentalist Christians cheering on Armageddon, ultra-Zionists thirsting for Middle Eastern conquest, defense contractors, ideologues of world dominion, cunning political strategists, and, yes, the oil companies. They are the ones telling you that Saddam is about to nuke your kitchen, saying that their war has nothing to do with oil or Israel (how dare you!), and insisting that containment is impossible.

And mainstream media have failed to investigate this war's roots. Take the Sun-Sentinel, which has given Bush tacit approval in its editorial pages and neglected to question his motives.

After the president's State of the Union address in January, when he told us he believed America has a duty to spread the freedom God gave us, the Sentinel's meandering editorial didn't question Bush's Messianic tone. Instead, the headline was, "Case for War Gets Stronger."

"The new details about Iraq, including evidence of ties between Hussein's regime and the [al-Qaeda] network of terrorists, may give him the ammunition he needs to begin reshaping public opinion," the unnamed editorialist wrote.

The problem, of course, was that there really was no such evidence. But why let that get in the way of a good war?

In an October 12 editorial, the paper bought another Bush administration whopper -- that it had evidence Saddam was trying to build nuclear bombs. That claim was based on letters between Iraq and Niger that have proven to be cheap forgeries.

While the Bush team was spreading third-party lies to support its war, the press wasn't skeptical. Instead, it ate it up. "The United States can't stand idly by as Hussein seeks nuclear weapons and works to refine his other weapons of mass destruction," the Sentinelexpounded.

And when the president's plan for world domination and unilateral preventive wars was unveiled last year, the editorialists gushed, "The president's doctrine is justified."

True, the Sentinel has also recommended caution and urged Bush to get U.N. support before acting, but that just muddled the message enough to obscure any meaning at all. When did newspapers start hemming and hawing like gutless politicians? All the media has done is allow Bush and the war pigs to get away with lie after lie, which brings us to...

...Brother Jeb's big fib. When the class-size amendment was put on last year's ballot, the Florida governor, in what he thought was a quasi-private moment, blurted out that he had "devious" plans to subvert it. During the final McBride debate, mediator Tim Russert asked Jeb: "If it did pass, you wouldn't sabotage it? You would implement it?"

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