Sunday, October 22, 2006

Scapegoating Reality

Today, some US journalists describe the symptoms of a disease, but few dare penetrate its cause. Case in point is an otherwise insightful article by Sally Quinn of the Washington Post that examines Rumsfeld’s role as “scapegoat.” It explains how by continuing to serve as Defense Secretary, Rumsfeld deflects blame from others in the administration, namely Cheney and Bush. Quinn may well have hit the nail on the head. This may explain why Rumsfeld has not yet been fired. But in the article observe how – ever so subtly -- the context for the scapegoating becomes its justification:
It is hard for the American people to turn completely against the president. It seems tantamount to patricide. We're much more comfortable being able to blame someone else for the president's mistakes. Laura Bush will never be the scapegoat. For now, it's Rumsfeld. (my italics)
The American People this, the American People that. The blather goes on and on. These days, it is “hard” for Americans to do a lot of things; and it seems as if keeping Americans “more comfortable” is now tantamount to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Let there be no mistake: the steadfast pursuit of “the more comfortable” and “the least hard” is no virtue. Never was. Never will be.

The real story is not the scapegoating, it's that a number of the most intractable problems facing Americans today began at the top. The big things Rumsfeld is accused of having screwed up – troop levels in Iraq, refusal to take the insurgency seriously, and the absence of post war planning -- are things that any competent chief executive would have prevented. Scapegoating – particularly as the practice pertains to the George W. Bush presidency -- amounts to denial of reality. The reality is that America has a president who is not up to the job. And the news media refuses to give this issue the attention it deserves.

The prospect of a move to impeach George W. Bush is not said to be “popular” at this time. But it ought to top of the nation’s agenda. (Along with this related constitutional question: how to also remove Vice President Cheney from office at the same time?)

Because the past six years provide sufficient evidence that President Bush is not up to handling another crisis. Take the situation in regards to Iran’s nuclear program. Some say Iran must be prevented from pursuing its nuclear program, even by military means. Personally, I’m not convinced. But let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that an invasion of Iran would be prudent. Next, consider the identity of the Commander in Chief charged with executing the invasion. Ponder that for a moment. See my point? Nobody in his right mind would argue that President George W. Bush has the wherewithal to lead the nation into another war. This holds true regardless of whether Rumsfeld stays or goes.

And I maintain it is reckless for anyone – be they Republican or Democrat – to assume that there will not be some major national or world crisis within the next two years. One simply can’t rule that out. And if impeaching Bush is not worth the effort, why not cut the defense budget in half for the next two years? This idea makes about as much sense as this reluctance to at least make an honest effort to impeach President Bush. Because with an incompetent at the helm, what use is the world's finest military machinary? Of what use are the dedicated personnel of the US Armed Forces who put their lives on the line for their “more comfortable” and "hardness-averse" compatriots? Led by this chief, the finest warriors armed with the best guns are likely to prove ineffective. I'm using a military example, but Huricane Katrina proved that presidential incompetence knows no boundaries, a perception which grounds my belief that to scapegoat Rumsfeld is to deny the scope of the problem.

However, the real problem facing the United States is neither Rumsfeld, nor, ultimately, is it George W. Bush. The deeper, more fundamental problem is an American news media which refuses to take facts and reality as its starting point, choosing only to take present-day mainstream public perception as a valid foundation from which to describe current affairs.

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