Bravo, Molly Ivins. I do like this column, “Killing people for their own good,” at WorkingForChange.com.
It’s quite difficult to convince people you are killing them for their own good. That’s our basic problem in Iraq.
You can try explaining that you are killing them in order to bring freedom and democracy to their nation — “Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in the world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom,” said President Bush. However, this argument is less than convincing if an American bomb or bullet has just killed your child. Or if you were among the 70 percent to 90 percent of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib who were there by accident.
I’m nearing the end of The Commanders, which is mostly about the first Bush administration and the lead up to the first Gulf War. It’s interesting to note how Woodward’s opinion of certain characters seems to have changed between writing this one and writing Plan of Attack. For instance, while Paul Wolfowitz came off as thoughtless and war-hungry in PoA, he’s described as an academic pushing for containment, not war, in The Commanders. Colin Powell, on the other hand, seems wavery in both books. I feel a bit more sympathy for him in PoA, maybe, but basically he’s in the same position here: He feels personally that containment is the best plan, and yet he won’t argue for it with the President unless he’s sure that someone else feels the same way. Politically, I understand why that’s smart — the only reason he’s still in a Bush administration is that he was careful not to be the outsider in the first — but it’s just a direct assault upon any hope that the man might use his power to stand up for what’s right. Then again, I realize the power of being able to trade – thinking that if he toes the line on Iraq either time, knowing that his negative opinion will probably have no impact anyway, he gains credibility to do other things. Bah. What I’m actually getting around to is this: I think I’m glad Colin Powell isn’t President.
Another interesting contrast is the difference between Bush I and Bush II. I can’t be the only Democrat who has started to feel a little bit more warmly toward Bush I as his son just continues to screw things up. This book highlights the good and the bad: father and son seem to have a similar style of decision making, where decisions are made with circular debate among very close advisors. The difference is that Bush I constantly highlighted the importance of his own experiences out in the world — U.N. ambassador, ambassador to China, Vice President, etc. — in making his own decisions. His son has *none* of those experiences, and that, to me, makes him 1,000 times more dangerous.
Saw a Bush ad today that started by highlighting his experience as governor of Texas in building education. If you’re President and you have to reach back to your experiences as governor to show that you’ve done some good, doesn’t that tell you something about your recent work? It didn’t even seem to be done in such a way to put current accomplishments – No Child Left Behind – in context, like, see how I built on this success. It really seemed like “look at my resume! Remember, I was a governor, too!” So lame. I am enjoying the political advertising around here, though. I feel like I see more ads in this market than I used to in D.C. I’m not sure why – my suspicion is that there weren’t as many ads run in D.C. in 2000 as there will be here in 2004. D.C., as a market, is expensive, and money is better spent trying to sway voters outside the Beltway — in, say, competitive Missouri.