HEY DUDE, WHERE’S THE REST OF ME? A couple weeks ago, I attended an impeach-Bush event held at the Veterans Memorial Building down on Cabrillo Boulevard. There were lots of people wearing black Dennis Kucinich for President T-shirts. Those who actually paid to hear Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson-the world’s most liberal mayor-outline the case for impeachment against Bush and Cheney also got a plate of vegetarian burritos as part of the deal. The event started way late to give the diners time to leave their tables, stand in line, get their grub, and commence chewing.
Somehow, this lack of timeliness seemed all too appropriate. Even if we were to impeach the bastards yesterday, it would still be $450 billion late and 3,700 dead soldiers short. But the delay afforded me a chance to chat with Anderson directly, and I was duly impressed with his blazing shock of white hair, his blazing blue eyes, and his equally blazing white teeth. I listened attentively to his spiel. I even took notes. It was all horrible. It was all true. And it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard a million times before. Two hours later, I trudged out feeling depressed, defeated, and demoralized.
What Rocky Anderson and all his decent, dazzling whiteness failed to ignite in me, however, a writer named Robert Draper has just inflamed. Based on excerpts from his soon-to-be-released book, Dead Certain, I am now, more than ever, convinced that impeachment is way too good for these guys. If anything, the whole pack of them should be dragged by chains from the back of a pickup truck and driven pell-mell down some dirty, dusty Texas road until there’s not enough heft left to their bones to even bounce off the concrete. I know this might seem a bit extreme. Indecorous even. But it might send a message loud enough so that any elected leaders will think twice the next time they want to drag us into the wrong war with the wrong enemy at the wrong time for reasons that even now, six years later, are not remotely clear.
A reporter with GQ magazine and formerly of the Texas Monthly, Draper allegedly has family connections with the Bush clan that enabled him to get six one-hour interviews with the Decider in Chief. The resulting book seems to have something in it to outrage just about everyone. Bush, for example, salivates about the “ridiculous” amounts of money he hopes to make “replenishing the ol’ coffers” by hitting the lecture circuit after his term expires. Or you could froth over Bush’s admission, “I do tears.”
Throughout the years, we’ve all seen Bush try to pretend to be Winston Churchill, vamping and voguing on all the heroic WWII-Greatest Generation pixie dust floating around the zeitgeist. But what comes across most in Draper’s book is how tightly Bush still clings to his inner Beavis and Butt-Head. When asked to explain one of the single most recklessly self-destructive and catastrophic decisions of the war-the decision to disband the Iraqi National Army-Bush got all hazy. In fact, Bush said he thought the policy was just the opposite-to keep it intact. As to the reversal, Bush said, “Yeah, I can’t remember,” adding, “I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy, what happened?’” But if he doesn’t recall what happened, Bush told Draper, he’s sure there are documents on it somewhere that will explain everything. “Hadley’s got notes on all this stuff,” Bush said, referring to his trusted National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.
In all the Monday morning quarterbacking that’s taken place since of the war’s inception in 2003, few decisions have been so universally denounced as the decision to disband the Iraqi National Army. In doing this, the United States effectively fired 400,000 armed and trained military professionals. And guess where they went? Straight into the militia. If Bush has forgotten, L. Paul Bremer III-his man in Iraq at the time-has a decidedly firm grasp on the details. Bremer is insisting he made the decision to disband the Iraqi National Army with the full knowledge and blessing of President Bush. It turns out he has the letters of commendation that Bush sent him at the time, praising the decision, to prove it.
Given the significance of this news, one would have thought most media outlets would have given this revelation front-page treatment. Mysteriously, the Los Angeles Times buried it on page A-14 on Monday. But maybe the Times had it right. Carping about the blithering incompetence with which this war has been executed is, after all, old news.
And there’s so much of it. What about the $10 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills we lost in Iraq back at the war’s beginning? Presumably that was found by warlords to buy themselves weapons. But maybe not. Given how many of the weapons from the United States have been “lost” in Iraq, the warlords could have saved their money. According to the Government Accountability Office, we still can’t account for 110,000 AK-47s, 80,000 Glock automatic pistols, 751 assault rifles, and 99 machine guns. As long as the Iraqi insurgents have the United States for an enemy, they don’t really need any friends.
The good news, we are told, is the Sunnis and Shiites aren’t killing each other in quite the same numbers they used to. That’s because things have splintered into such deadly fragments that Sunnis are now killing Sunnis and Shiites are killing Shiites. Now that’s progress. In Baghdad, people have only a few hours of electricity a day, and for that they should shut up and be grateful. In the north, people are dying off from what’s been described as a cholera pandemic because of unsafe drinking water, cholera being a dainty way of describing a disease in which people shit themselves to death. A quick stroll down a dark alley with a suicide bomber might be preferable. Bush may indeed “do tears,” as he claimed to Draper. But not nearly enough for my taste.
In the meantime, don’t waste my time with vegetarian burritos. I need red meat. And if anyone’s looking for someone to drive that chain-dragging pickup truck, my California driver’s license doesn’t expire for a few more years.