Monday, October 25, 2004

The Teflon President

They used to call Clinton "the Teflon President" because nothing "stuck" to him. He was such an ingenious politico, he found a way to wrangle and charm his way out of everything.

The Lewinsky affair was tacky and embarrassing. But it was a private matter for the Clintons to resolve. It didn't have an effect on foreign policy. She was not exchanging favors with the President on behalf of a corporation or industry. People weren't dying. It didn't cost us anything (aside from the $70 million budget for Ken Starr's fruitless investigations).

So a few years ago when my feelings toward Bush changed from bemused pity at his bumbling to blood-boiling, stomach churning outrage, I prayed for a scandal.

There have now been too many to recall. Enron. The anthrax attacks of 2001. Remember those? Didn't even get a mention in the debates. The great Northeast blackout of 2003. The National Guard fiasco. And more. It makes my head spin.

As if that wasn't enough, there's Iraq. We attacked and invaded a defenseless country, killing tens of thousands of innocents, in order to put one politically isolated and impotent dictator in jail. We argued for the war before the United Nations using false pretenses. We betrayed the deaths of 3,000 Americans by not pursuing their killers and bringing them to justice. The catastrophe that is Iraq is likewise made up of scandals too numerous to recall. Abu Ghraib. WMD. To name but two.

And now today, there's the lead article on the New York Times front page: "Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq." Um, when they say "huge," they aren't kidding. We're not talking estimates of what this site contained, we know exactly what was there because this was one of the sites the UN inspectors had monitored. They told us what it contained and sealed it, but the U.S. failed to secure the location, and now it's gone.

Huge. 377 tons of some of the most potent explosive material that exists. To give you an idea, Pan Am 103 was brought down over Scotland using less than a pound of the kind of explosives that are now missing. So we're talking about 754,000 pounds.

Any of these events dwarf the Lewinsky mess. Well, that's just it right there, I think. Lewinsky was a mess. Iraq, Enron, etc., etc., etc., were disasters and catastrophes.

And yet, none of this has stuck. Is that where America is these days? Kill thousands of innocent people, launch a war under false pretences, overlook the theft of enough explosives to bring down 754,000 jumbo jets, and you've still got a shot at being re-elected. As long as you keep your dick in your pants, apparently you can get away with anything.

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