Poor Tom Friedman, Baffled By Bush
Tom Friedman in Friday's New York Times:
Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld told us we are in the fight of our lives against a new Islamic fascism, and let's have an unprecedented wartime tax cut and shrink our armed forces. They told us we are in the fight of our lives against a new Islamic fascism, but let's send just enough troops to topple Saddam--and never control Iraq's borders, its ammo dumps or its looters. They told us we are in the fight of our lives against a new Islamic fascism, but rather than bring Democrats and Republicans together in a national unity war coalition, let's use the war as a wedge issue to embarrass Democrats, frighten voters and win elections. They told us we are in the fight of our lives against a new Islamic fascism--which is financed by our own oil purchases--but let's not do one serious thing about ending our oil addiction.Poor Tom. He's been abused so long--and accepted it so abjectly--and struggled so hard to maintain his belief in the people doing the abusing--that now he is sincerely unable to understand the realities that are staring him in the face.
Donald Rumsfeld demonizes war critics as "morally confused." But it is the "moral confusion" at the heart of the Bush policy--a confusion between its important ends and insufficient means--that has hobbled us from the start. It truly, truly baffles me why a president who bet so much of his legacy on this project never gave it his best shot and tolerated so much incompetence. He summoned us to D-Day and gave us the moral equivalent of the invasion of Panama.
Tom Friedman is like an abused wife who has finally caught on to the fact that she is abused, and is angry about it--but somehow can't quite bring herself to acknowledge the full reality of what has happened and whose fault it is. So she finds herself saying things like:
He told me he was going to stop beating me, and then he came home drunk and kicked me down the stairs again. He told me he was going to stop gambling, and then he cashed his paycheck and mine and went off to Atlantic City for the weekend with the money and didn't come home until he'd blown it all. He told me he was going to be faithful, and then he brought his girlfriend home and had sex with her in our bedroom.The rest of us aren't baffled. From day one, the war in Iraq was a Karl Rove special, launched not for any idealistic geopolitical purpose but as a political gambit to enable the feckless Bush to be seen as a "war president."
It truly, truly baffles me why a man who wants so badly to do the right thing keeps making these kinds of mistakes.
Rove and Bush got their war, and it helped them win a couple of elections. Unfortunately, the long-term consequences of the war aren't proving as easy to manage as they assumed.
As for all that talk about "the fight of our lives" and the "new Islamic fascism," it means about as much as the abusive husband's oh-so-sincere excuses and promises. The rest of us find the hot air easy to ignore or even laugh at. But then, we were never head-over-heels in love with the guy.
Tags: Thomas Friedman, Bush, Iraq, Rumsfeld