The White House seems to have slipped the bonds of simple denial and escaped into the disturbing realm of utter delusion.Fiddling as Iraq Burns by Bob Herbert
On Tuesday, there was President Bush hanging the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on George Tenet, the former C.I.A. director who slept through the run-up to Sept. 11 and then did the president and the nation the great disservice of declaring that it was a "slam-dunk" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.So, what are these guys be rewarded for?
It was a fatal misjudgment.
Another Medal of Freedom was given to Paul Bremer III, the chief civilian administrator of the American occupation, who made the heavily criticized decision to disband the defeated Iraqi Army and presided over an ever-worsening security situation. Thousands upon thousands have died in this unnecessary and incompetently conducted war, yet here was the president handing out medals as if some kind of triumph had been achieved. If these guys could get the highest civilian award, what honor is left for someone who actually does a good job?
A third medal was given to Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Iraq, which Mr. Bush, in his peculiar way, has characterized as a "catastrophic success." It's an interesting term. Some people have applied it to the president's run for re-election.
By anyone's standards, terrible things are happening in Iraq, and no amount of self-congratulation in Washington can take the edge off the horror being endured by American troops or the unrelenting agony of the Iraqi people.One can only wonder why Ahmad Chalabi was left out. He too no longer works for the administration and is as responsible of any of these jokers for the mess in Iraq.
So what does the administration have on it's mind? The war in Iraq? It doesn't look like it.
This administration has many things on its mind besides the welfare of overstretched, ill-equipped G.I.'s dodging bombers and snipers in Iraq. In addition to the inauguration, which will cost tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Bush is busy with his obsessive campaign against "junk and frivolous lawsuits," his effort to further lighten the tax load on the nation's wealthiest individuals and corporations, and his campaign to cut the legs from under the proudest achievement of the New Deal, Social Security.And how does Bush protect us?
Even domestic security gets short shrift. During the Republican convention, Mr. Bush said, "I wake up every morning thinking about how to better protect our country." Try squaring that with the Bernard Kerik fiasco, in which the administration's background check of its candidate for the nation's ultimate domestic security post was handled with the same calamitous incompetence as the intelligence effort that led to the war in Iraq.This country is less safe than it was before 911, the economy is on the razors edge of taking another dive, the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great depression. Our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors are dying for greed and nothing more in Iraq. The 51% of you who voted for George W. Bush deserve all the grief he's going to bring down on us. Unfortunately, the 49% of us who knew better don't.
Mr. Bush's pick (at Rudy Giuliani's urging) for homeland security secretary turned out to be a slick character who had once ducked a required F.B.I. clearance, had a social relationship with the owner of a company suspected of business ties to organized crime figures and had rented a love nest that overlooked the ruins of the World Trade Center.