-- Barbara Bush, on ABC/Good Morning America, March 18, 2003
Barbara Bush, a woman responsible for the profound observation that "war is not nice," may perceive her mind as beautiful...but it's more of a state of mind she's talking about (and the concept of beauty need not apply).
As South African activist Steven Biko said: "The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed" and this mindset of denial pervades both Right and Left these days. How else can we explain all the beautiful minds bestowing importance upon doublespeaking distractions like the 9/11 Commission hearings and the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (PBD)?
Even if we were to assume for a moment that Richard Clarke was telling the truth, there is absolutely no reason why his book or testimony should offer any solace to the Left. Blaming Bush in an election year is convenient but hardly relevant...and to support Clarke is to support more military and less civil rights. It is support for pre-emptive strikes and increased power to U.S. secret police. Somehow, this hasn't stopped lefties from exploiting the hearings to push their Anyone-But-Bush (ABB) agenda.
Writing in The Nation, John Nichols narrows the 9/11 focus down to Condoleezza Rice being asked about "the title of President (sic) Bush's daily briefing document for August 6, 2001." Nichols explains: "After several inept attempts to avoid the question, Rice finally answered, 'I believe the title was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'"
Fellow Nation writer, David Corn jumped on the same issue: "Rice's handling of this dicey topic undermines her credibility," he wrote (as if she ever had credibility in genuinely progressive quarters). "In May 2002, the White House, responding to a CBS News report, acknowledged that Bush had received this PDB and that the briefing had noted that bin Laden was interested in hijacking aircraft. This news caused a brief media and political frenzy. Had Bush ignored a warning that 9/11-like attacks were coming?"
At Alternet, where the ABB mindset has effectively forced out any opposing viewpoints, David J. Sirota, Christy Harvey, and Judd Legum scold the Bush White House for not endorsing "F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators" and vetoing "a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism."
These beautiful minds seem to have forgotten that calling oneself a progressive usually requires one to espouse progressive viewpoints. In their frenzy to assail Republicans, some on the Left are actually attacking Bush from the right. This beautiful mindset makes it possible for purported progressives to hate Bush for going overboard after 9/11 and hate him for not going overboard before 9/11.
Richard Clarke offered nothing of relevance at the hearings and time spent analyzing his testimony is essentially time wasted. The important questions were never asked...the important witnesses never called. Hands were wrung over Condi Rice but why would anyone expect her to provide any context or historical perspective? Why is it worth the time or effort to dissect her comments when, for example, Nobel Peace Prize winner (and Democrat) Jimmy Carter was nowhere to be found? Why not start by holding him accountable for U.S. actions in the late 70s that helped create the very terror networks (and blowback) Clarke feared? The Left will make hay over Bush's handling (or mishandling) of pre-9/11 warnings and make it an "issue" in the presidential race but who will demand answers from Zbigniew Brzezinski who, started the $6 billion effort at Carter's behest? When asked about this effort in 1998, Brzezinski replied: "What was more important...a few stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?" Perhaps that group of 9/11 widows would like to ask the same question, but the Left is too busy frying Rice and burning Bush.
"The history of Afghanistan and the U.S. involvement in it provide a stark example of the costs of using countries as pawns and of elevating control of resources such as oil over human rights," writes Mark Zepezauer in his brilliant book, Boomerang. "The consequences, as we suddenly learned on September 11, have hit home."
The consequences hit home but the connections are not being made. The beautiful mindset wants John Kerry in the White House...not a history lesson on U.S. intervention in Afghanistan.
Speaking of Afghanistan, another offshoot of this let's-pretend approach is the much-trumpeted "movement" to oppose the occupation of Iraq while the U.S. taxpayer-subsidized occupation of Afghanistan garners little notice and, in case of subversives like Tim Robbins, is greeted with support. (Then there's always the occupation of North America...but I digress). Hell, some of today's radicals are even blaming Dubya for not going after Afghanistan before the planes hit the towers...as Richard Clarke might have preferred (even though 15 of the19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and none came from Afghanistan).
"It is much easier to be against the blatantly illegal Iraq war," says Sonali Kolhatkar (http://www.uprisingradio.org). "But Afghanistan was another situation. How could we argue that the U.S. should not bomb a country that was harboring terrorists who attacked innocent U.S. civilians?
Perhaps activists have avoided Afghanistan because of its obvious links to Al Qaeda and the tempting promise by Bush to deliver freedom for the most oppressed women in the world."
Perhaps it's also because too many of those same activists live in a make-believe world where issues are reduced to simplistic slogans and false solutions...and hatred of Republicans blinds them to reality.
Reality? Did I foolishly mention reality? As Barbara Bush might say: "It's not relevant...why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
Mickey Z. is the author of two upcoming books: A Gigantic Mistake: Articles and Essays for Your Intellectual Self-Defense (Prime Books) and Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda (Common Courage Press). His most recent book is The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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