Fanatics and fools:
How the dysfunctional
White House led us to war
past year, I've been studying and writing about the Fanatics running the White
House and the Fools on both sides of the aisle who have enabled them to prevail.
Woodward has now given us a chilling behind-the-scenes look at how this
dysfunctional dynamic drove us to war in Iraq – providing devastating snapshots
of both the evidence-be-damned zealotry of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their
minions and the craven capitulation of White House enablers Powell, Tenet, Rice,
Woodward's portrait of this last group is particularly damning: an assemblage of
cowards and sycophants who knew full well that the truth was being sacrificed on
the altar of Dick Cheney's “fevered” obsession with Saddam but did nothing to
stop the butchery. A very special Circle of Hell must be reserved for them.
top of the insider accounts by Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke, Woodward's book
delivers the coup de grace to any lingering doubt that the Bush administration
is teeming with fanatics for whom evidence is little more than an obstacle on
the path to greater glory.
We see a
president for whom staying the course – even if the course is leading us over
the edge of a cliff – is a badge of honor, and for whom a questioning mindset is
anathema reserved for, well, wimps. And George the Younger was going to have
none of that this time around. Sorry, Dad. Bush is also terrifyingly insulated;
if it wasn't coming from Cheney or Rummy – or Prince Bandar – he wasn't
We see a
vice president so obsessed with linking Saddam to 9/11, that no piece of
intelligence that supports this hypothesis is deemed too unreliable to be used.
Cheney was like an al-Qaida alchemist, converting shards of faulty or ambiguous
information into golden reasons for pre-emptive war. Who knew that the
soundtrack to the shock and awe of Baghdad would be Cheney's karaoke take on
Peggy Lee: “Fever 'til you sizzle/What a lovely way to burn!”?
frightening as this collective fanaticism is – and there can be few things more
unnerving than leaders willing to lie to get their way – it's hardly surprising.
Bush and Co. have been flouting the truth since the moment the Supreme Court
handed them the keys to the White House.
What is a
surprise is how easily – and willingly – the White House Fools went along with
Powell believed in his heart that war with Iraq could – indeed, should – be
avoided. But instead of making a principled stand, he made like a Good Soldier
and fell into line. He was further out of the war loop than the ambassador from
the home country of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers – but when the president asked
him to carry his sample vial of anthrax at the United Nations, Powell was so
flattered he dutifully set out to hoodwink the world.
Dante's “Inferno,” deceivers are sentenced to have their souls encased in flames,
hypocrites are forced to wear a cloak weighted with lead, and those who use
their powers of persuasion for insidious ends are doomed to suffer a continual
fever so intense that their body sizzles and smokes like a steak tossed on a
George Foreman grill. Maybe Satan will give Powell a three-afflictions-for-the-price-of-one
the secretary of state won't be lonely in the underworld. He'll have George
Tenet and Karen Hughes right by his smoldering side.
knew that the intel on Iraqi WMD was thinner than Lara Flynn Boyle on Dexatrim
but was so desperate to get on Cheney and Bush's good side that he turned
himself into the Dick Vitale of WMD: “It's a slam dunk, baby!”
was just as spineless. After listening to Scooter Libby foam at the mouth for an
hour, rabidly trying to sell the Cheney case for war to a jury of administration
heavy-hitters, Hughes gave the overheated and hyperbolic presentation two thumbs
down. But instead of counseling the president to rethink his pre-emptive plans,
Hughes sat back and watched as the job of making the shaky case to the world was
transferred from Libby to Powell. Forget fixing the message; they merely
Bible, Jesus makes it clear that those who have been exposed to the truth have a
higher obligation than the uninformed: “If you were blind, you would not be
guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, you cannot escape your guilt.”
House Fanatics – blinded by their zealotry – should suffer the wrath of the
electorate and be voted out of office. But the Fools who enabled them must face
an even harsher form of retribution. Eternal damnation is the ultimate long,
Arianna Huffington's e-mail address is arianna(AT)ariannaonline.com.
© 2004 Arianna Huffington.
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