I have been asked lately by my mother and some friends how I "knew," even way back when Bush first started beating the Iraq war drums, that the invasion was a bad idea, that there probably were few or no WMD's, that Iraq posed no threat to the U.S., that we'd all bitterly regret the whole grand neo-con adventure.
It might be because I feared diverting our focus from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda to Iraq would weaken the "war on terra." It might be because I put more stock in the WMD analyses of Scott Ritter and Hans Blix than in the Defense Dept. and the CIA. I wasn't impressed by Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N., and I remembered that in early 2001 he was confident that Saddam had been contained. I certainly was more struck by the assessments of Generals Shinseki, Zinni and Wesley Clark than by those of Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz. I was informed enough to realize that Saddam and Bin Laden were mortal enemies and thus unlikely confederates in the attack on the World Trade Center. I know I worried at the time about how a preemptive strike against a non-aggressing sovereign nation would alter the perceptions of America throughout the world. I've always read a lot, and since I've long been concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that includes a number of books about the Middle East -- so I was dismayed by the "cakewalk" predictions, which only tipped me off as to the chickenhawks' ignorance and naivete. At any rate, my Christian faith and the experience of living through the Vietnam era have taught me to place more confidence in peacemaking and diplomacy than in bullets as sources of conflict resolution. And I always oppose putting our military personnel in harm's way unless there is no alternative.
But the real bottom line is that I didn't trust George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or their minions. I'd read and been alarmed by the Project for a New American Century.
I'd lived in Texas throughout Bush's tenure as governor and before, when he lied about Anne Richards and his own resume. I'd seen his administration begin almost immediately after being handed the presidency by the Supremes to sell government to the private sector. I knew he was in the pocket of ideologues, fundamentalist fanatics, and big oil (among others). I recognized him as an opportunist, a non-thinker who likes to view himself as an action figure. I never believed for one minute that he gives a flip about anyone except GWB. I viewed him as the incompetent, lying, hypocritical, arrogant, selfish, vengeful piece of arrested-development slime that he is. I trusted my own judgment a hell of a lot more than I trusted his, and was inclined to be skeptical of just about anything the man said or did.
It amazed me when co-workers would ask me in the weeks and months after 9/11, "Aren't you glad now that Gore didn't get elected? Don't you think Bush will make us safer?" I'd think (and say), "Wait a minute. You were with me in the Board Room the morning of September 11, 2001, when we watched on the big screen as the two towers came down. We all wondered where Bush was, and when we found out, what the heck he was doing flying around instead of in D.C. running things. We watched him, stunned-looking, continue with his photo op reading to little kids after he'd been told about the attack. Did he make you feel safer then?"
In the film A League of Their Own,
Tom Hanks' character says, "It was made very clear to me what my role is. I'm to come out of the dugout once every game and wave my little hat." That's the role Bush was best at, and our family used to enjoy watching him at Rangers games. Our sympathetic attitude (we're charitable people) was, "Oh how nice. He finally got a job he can do." It certainly wasn't our bright idea to put such a man in charge of our armed forces and the fate of the nation.
No, "everyone didn't get it all wrong." Some of us got it right. And I suspect that others, like me, got it right because we got the character of George Bush right.