First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Doonesbury vs. America
Does anybody here remember when Doonesbury was funny?
Never mind. It was funny this past Sunday, in a bitter, ironic kind of way.
The comic strip, by Garry Trudeau, shows a professor teaching a class, in which he compares two presidents -- Bush and Clinton. Of Bush he says, "The first president initiates a bloody, costly, unending war on false premises ... and approves covert policies of illegal detentions, kangaroo courts, extraordinary renditions, torture, and warrantless wiretapping of thousands of Americans."
Of Clinton, he says, "The second president lies about hooking up with an intern. Question: Which one should be impeached?"
The only reason Trudeau's little screed is worth answering is because there are a lot of bitter, angry Democrats who feel the same way.
So let's look closely at this point of view.
Bush As LBJ Plus J. Edgar Hoover
First, the description of Bush actually sounds far more like Lyndon Johnson with J. Edgar Hoover's FBI spying on Americans, the IRS being used to issue punitive audits on Johnson's political foes, and our participation in the Vietnam War having been based on the dubious grounds of an attack on U.S. military vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Vietnam War did indeed seem endless, since our enemies had permanent safe sanctuary and infinite resupply.
But Trudeau must be given credit for consistency: He hated Lyndon Johnson, too.
In fact, if you look at what Trudeau says about Bush, you begin to realize that Trudeau needs Bush to look like Johnson, the old enemy of the aging anti-war Leftists of the 1960s.
Trudeau's Claims about the War
What about Trudeau's specific charges against Bush?
"Bloody," he calls the campaign in Iraq. But compared to other wars, involving similar numbers of troops and covering similar amounts of territory during similar amounts of time, this war is astonishingly bloodless, both in military and civilian casualties. It is the cleanest war in history. So it is "bloody" only in the sense that all war is bloody.
"Costly," he calls it. Well, yes. War isn't cheap. But again, "cost" should be measured against the alternative expenses -- what would it cost us not to have fought the war, or not to continue fighting it? I've written about that at great length; I won't repeat myself here.
"Unending," he calls the war. Well, until any war has ended, it is "unending," and then when it does end, it isn't unending anymore. Duh. But what he really means is that we can't announce the date of the end of the war. Again, though, in what war was the ending date announceable in advance? The only way to announce the end of a war is either to choose your own date of surrender (though if you choose that option, you lose the option of negotiating or choosing the terms of your own defeat), or to have the power to annihilate your enemies and announce the date on which you will use that power. I wonder which outcome Trudeau is hoping for?
"On false premises," he says we began this war. But that has not been proven -- weapons of mass destruction did exist in Iraq because Saddam used them, and the fact that we have found no evidence of their destruction and that Saddam refused to allow inspectors to have free access to verify their destruction suggests that wherever those weapons are now (and there is strong evidence suggesting they are in Syria), they definitely did exist.
As for nuclear weapons, we know that Saddam had such a program, and we also know that every other intelligence service was telling us that he was getting dangerously close to success. It turns out that either they were wrong, or Saddam disposed of the evidence of that program as he did his poison gas and biological weapons programs.
But when you lay the charge of "initiating" a war "under false pretenses," the implication is that it was a knowing deception. No one has any evidence that Bush knew or had any reason to know what can still not be proven today -- that Saddam has no nuclear weapons development program. So to imply that Bush knowingly got us into a war on false premises is not just a lie itself, it is a malicious slander.
Notice that what Trudeau doesn't say is that it's a losing war. Because he knows -- we all know -- that we're not losing it. We might be tired of it, but we're not losing it.
And we also know that Trudeau doesn't care about the troops that die in Iraq, because he has spent his career mocking and ridiculing the kind of people who volunteer for military service. Remember, he cut his teeth on opposing a war fought by draftees. But there are no draftees. There are only soldiers who actually believe in America -- and in defending America -- in a way that Trudeau has always sneered at.
Trudeau's Domestic Charges Against Bush
Now we get to the supposed violations of Americans' civil rights. "Approves covert policies of illegal detentions." The question of whether the detentions are illegal is still being debated; the detentions are hardly covert, let alone the policies allowing them. In fact, it's astonishingly open, given that we are in a war.
Unless, of course, Trudeau is referring to rumored detentions (and "extraordinary renditions"), which are apparently "covert" because there is no credible evidence that they have taken place. Since Trudeau has far less evidence of these detentions than Bush had of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, one is puzzled about the standard of evidence that should apply. Apparently cartoonists of the Smarty-Pants school of political thought can make slanderous charges without any evidence at all except rumors passed around by his Bush-hating friends, but President Bush is expected to know information that nobody else in the West knew and act accordingly.
"Kangaroo courts." Hmm. Since the complaint of the Left is that the detainees are not being brought to trial, one wonders where and when these kangaroo courts were held? Sounds like more of those wild-eyed rumors to me. But cartoonists can say what they want -- truth is just a joke to them.
"Torture," he charges; but that is a term with actual meaning. If any form of duress during questioning is "torture," it means that having a bright light shine in your face and being kept awake for a long time is the moral equivalent of castration and dismemberment. There are Americans who favor torturing suspected terrorists, but most of them are on 24.
What a strange moral universe Trudeau lives in, in which people who might know vital information about terrorist plots against American citizens cannot be questioned with any kind of pressure at all. Trudeau, apparently, thinks it is better to run the risk of letting ten thousand Americans die rather than cause any detainee any level of discomfort whatsoever. Because terrorists, to him, are simply ordinary criminals entitled to all the protections invented by judges back in the 1960s. War is no different from law enforcement. Terrorists are no different from shoplifters.
"Warrantless wiretappings of thousands of Americans," says Trudeau. Never mind that these were all Americans talking on the telephone with suspected terrorists abroad; never mind that the exposure of the program effectively removed the single most important tool we had to detect terrorist activity in time to prevent it. Never mind that nearly every President in recent years, Democratic or Republican, has done exactly the same thing, within the range of what was technologically possible at the time. Because Bush has done it, then it doesn't matter that it saves American lives. It is an evil crime for which Bush should be impeached.
Trudeau's Depiction of Clinton
And now the other side of his little moral balancing act: "The second president [Clinton] lies about hooking up with an intern."
Aw, yeah, that's nothing. Now, if Clinton had sent her dirty messages by IM or email, then he should have not just been impeached, but convicted and thrown out of office. But actually getting her to perform sexual acts on him, and then lying about it -- heck, who doesn't do that with underage sex partners who are in an almost infinitely subservient relationship with the most powerful man on earth?
And the lying -- never mind that it was under oath in a court proceeding. Never mind that the lie was not to protect national security in any way, but merely to obstruct his opponent in a personal lawsuit based on previous sexual misconduct. It just doesn't matter because it's kind of charming that Clinton's insatiable sexual appetite could not be controlled even when he was in the White House.
Because that just makes him a "babe hound," to quote Trudeau's comic strip. And the Left finds "babe hounds" rather charming. Unless they're Republicans, in which case they must be hounded from office immediately.
This is the moral universe of Garry Trudeau -- and of thousands, perhaps millions of others who subscribe to the Smarty-Pants school of moral reasoning. President Bush, whose actions have obviously been motivated solely by the desire to protect America from a genuine danger from bloodthirsty enemies, is worthy of impeachment for the crimes of (a) not always being right, (b) doing what other presidents have done, and (c) having national media figures hate him so badly that they will happily believe any vile rumor his enemies spread about.
President Bush's Motives
Of course I can hear the Smarty-Pants slander mill howling about my statement in the previous paragraph: "whose actions have obviously been motivated solely by the desire to protect America from a genuine danger."
So let me make that statement crystal clear. The danger was genuine -- the missing World Trade Center and the statements and actions of the terrorists before are proof of that.
As to Bush's motives, what other motive has anyone offered? That Bush started a war to benefit American military contractors? By that reasoning, we should never be able to go to war unless we are buying our weapons from our enemies, just to prove that American defense contractors won't profit.
Get a clue: Our defense industry is vital to -- get this -- our national defense! When we go to war, we buy materiel and contract for services from the corporations that have long been working with the Defense Department to develop precisely the goods and services we will need.
The other motive is, of course, oil. Bush was in the oil business. Because we went to war in an oil-producing country, Bush's oil-business buddies are profiting, say his enemies.
But the war has had no particular effect on oil prices. The rise in prices we had in the past year or so had far more to do with weather than war. Furthermore, since the entirety of Western civilization runs on oil, unfortunate as that fact may be (and I think it's a tragic, stupid mistake on our part), it is still true that there is no economic interest on this planet which would be a stronger motivation for war than to protect the oil supplies of the West.
Indeed, when we go to war with Iran -- and we will, if the ayatollahs continue to rule, whether we do it on the day of our choosing or the day they choose -- it will be, not over their nukes per se, but because of the ability those nukes will give them to hold the world's oil supply hostage.
Nevertheless, we know that oil has no bearing whatsoever on this war because Iraq's oil revenues are not going to Americans; they are not even paying for our effort to protect Iraq's fledgling democracy. They are flowing to the people of the defeated enemy state. If Bush had oil profits as part of his motive for the campaign in Iraq, he certainly bungled that one.
What Does Trudeau Want?
So when Garry Trudeau compares a perjurer for private gain who corrupts his office to have sex with a girl who had infinitely less power than he did, and a President who has taken enormous political heat to run the cleanest war in history against a stateless enemy that puts all existing laws and rules to the test, and claims that the latter is the one who deserves to be impeached, one can only wonder what kind of world Trudeau actually wants to live in.
Is it possible he really wants to live in a world in which terrorists can plot with impunity because government has no power to try to intercept their communications in advance or question anybody who does not already want to tell us information?
And then the terrorists can retire to safe havens with governments that openly promote terrorism yet cannot be touched because America "loves peace"?
And those governments can develop nuclear weapons with impunity because we cannot confirm with absolute proof whether they have such weapons programs unless and until we defeat them?
No, of course Trudeau doesn't want to live in that world. I think.
Trudeau and his Smarty-Pants friends have only one agenda: They hate President Bush and want to hurt him, and they don't care how many Americans they kill in the process.
Kill? They're not killing anybody ... are they?
Words Can Kill
Trudeau and those like him, who scream their hatred of President Bush and do everything they can to try to end this war with our own defeat, and the defeat (and likely deaths) of all those striving and struggling for democracy in the Middle East, are encouraging our enemies to go on fighting, killing American and Iraqi soldiers and civilians.
And now our enemies even have hope that if people like Trudeau once get their hands on power, then President Bush can be investigated by a hostile Congress. All our secrets will be laid bare for them to study and learn how to defeat us. And maybe President Bush will really be impeached. Then no President will dare to stand against our terrorist enemies or the states that support them.
Hey, Mr. Trudeau: These people were killing Americans even back when your beloved "babe hound" was President. Only your "babe hound" was too busy getting it on with Monica to do anything serious about it. And who can blame those who conclude that that's the way you wanted it? Who conclude that you hate America?
It's hard not to think that the Smarty-Pants elitists in Amerca hate what America has long stood for -- the primacy of the common man. They hate having us be a beacon of freedom for people everywhere. They hate having Americans shed their blood to bring freedom from tyranny anywhere on earth.
Because democracy is loathsome to elitists like Trudeau. They sneer at the thought that all those stupid Arabic-speaking people could ever have a working democracy, because they don't even like the working democracy America has. They believe government should be run only by Smarty-Pants like them, not by the unwashed masses who stupidly elect President who don't pronounce "nucular" the way they do.
So Trudeau, and his Smarty-Pants friends in the media, worked hard these past eight years to paint every action of President Bush as evil, to conceal every one of his many accomplishments, to brand as "extremist" every one of his moderate compromises designed to create unified government to work the will of the people. They have demonized him and it seemed to work -- the Democrats were able to squeak through a thin majority in both houses of Congress.
(Though one might point out that many of the freshman Democrats ran on conservative platforms that will make Nancy Pelosi puke if they actually vote that way once they're in office. And one might also point out that this voting shift is just about average for non-Presidential elections in the middle of a President's second term -- war or no war. And that there is still a huge number of Americans who will not tolerate any party that forces us to retire from this war in defeat -- especially if it leads to a triumphal resurgence of Islamicist terrorism worldwide.)
What Will The Democrats Do?
Now the subpoena power is in the hands of the Democratic Party. And even though any investigation of a war in progress is an unthinkably, insanely self-destructive move, destined to cripple our military effort and destroy our self-protective abilities, Trudeau and his friends expect them to do it. They want Congress to bring down this President.
For what crime?
Really, only one: Not being a Smarty-Pants like them.
No, let's be fair. I think there's another possibility: I think that Bush's real crime, in their eyes, is that while on the surface he's definitely not an intellectual as measured by today's elitists, he is in fact far smarter than his critics, and he is a far better President than any of their darlings like the moral cretins and intellectual stumblers that ran against him in 2000 and 2004, or the supposedly brilliant Rhodes Scholar do-nothing who preceded him for eight years of breathtaking incompetence in foreign affairs.
What the elitists can't forgive is that the American people proved the strength of democracy and the American Constitution by electing George W. Bush twice, despite all the slanders of the elitists who think they and they alone should make the decisions in America.
Well, they say, now democracy has spoken and we have the Democratic Party in control of Congress.
Yes. But which Democratic Party? If we count only Democratic candidates who ran as liberals, true to the ideals of, say, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, then that party does not have a majority in either house -- not even close.
Only if you add in the Democrats who claimed to be Republicans in all by name in order to get elected in conservative districts does the Democratic Party get its majority.
Only if you include Joseph Lieberman, who has apparently forgiven the Democratic Party for abandoning him in Connecticut and running somebody against him, do you get your majority -- and Lieberman supports this war. Lieberman knows what I know and only the Smarty-Pants are incapable of knowing -- that this war will be fought, and it's better to fight it in Iraq and Iran and Syria than in Sudan and India and Armenia, or in France and Germany and Britain, where the bloodshed will inevitably migrate -- and is already migrating.
So the only way President Bush will be impeached is if the Democratic Party reveals that all those conservative-talking candidates were liars.
Indeed, the only way this war will be prematurely ended is if the Democratic Party is able to get all of its members to vote for such a self-destructive course.
It might happen. The Democratic Party in recent years has proven to have iron discipline on too many issues.
But if that happens, then the Democratic Party will stand revealed as the party of deception, for that is not how it got its majorities in the swing districts and states.
We are winning the War against Terror -- or would be, if our enemies did not keep getting such constant encouragement from our deeply stupid and short-sighted "intellectual" elite.
I can't help but wonder. What sort of comic strip would Garry Trudeau be able to write for a newspaper in Tehran?
Well ... actually ... he could write the one he writes right now.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.