Does anyone remember the 2000 election, when the voting public acknowledged that then-Governor Bush did not seem like the brightest possible candidate but was likely to surround himself with great people and that those great people were as important as the president himself? [Exhibit A, Exhibit B]
Well, the Bush administration has been a ship afire for years, and few of his staff can be confused with "the boy [who] stood on the burning deck / trying to recite 'the boy stood on / the burning deck.'"1 (But plenty have been left still stammering.)
However, with the publication of former Bush spokesperson Scott McClellan's book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, those closest to the president have stopped just short of calling McClellan a traitor.
In an e-mail to McClellan, former Senator and presidential hopeful Bob Dole wrote:
There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don’t have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues.... No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique. (CNN.com)
While Dole may be right in his assessment of McClellan, his invective speaks to something much more nefarious. Dole suggests (perhaps rightly) that McClellan should have spoken up at the time, that it was McClellan's responsibility to do the right thing. More incredibly, Jack Cafferty, a conservative commentator on CNN, suggested that had McClellan spoken up at the time, he could have "saved a few lives."2
Thus, the right-wing of the conservative party is painting McClellan, not the Commander-in-Chief or the administration that perpetrated the deception that McClellan ostensibly reveals, as a cause of dead soldiers. In this administration where the buck never stops, this is hardly surprising, but it is deplorable and as disrespectful of the soldiers' sacrifices as can be conceived. Moreover, the ones who are ultimately accountable for this war are being let off the hook (not only by these commentators but also by the mainstream media, an industry that seems to have forgotten investigative journalism when it comes to George W. Bush).
While it seems obvious that the administration engaged in some manner of misinformation regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (remember them? the reasons we went to war in the first place?) and Iraq's role in aiding anti-American terrorists, and while such misinformation is likely impeachable, Senator Robert Wexler's (D-Florida) call for McClellan to testify under oath might just be the move that mobilizes the imperiled Republican party and creates a stiffer fight for the democratic presidential nominee.
1"Casabianca," by Elizabeth Bishop
Love's the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite `The boy stood on
the burning deck.' Love's the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.
Love's the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love's the burning boy.