Imagine. John Kerry should apologize to the troops. John Kerry.
I'm speechless. I'll let two people, much better writers than I, speak for me.
by Ralph Nader
The baying pack of belligerent draft dodgers - Messrs. Bush, Cheney and Limbaugh - were out in verbal force this week against John Kerry. The Senator miscued a joke about Bush by reading without the "us" in the line, "You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush." The missing of the "us" word gave the messianic militarists an opening to demand that Kerry apologize to the U.S. troops for his "insulting" and "shameful" remarks.
Interesting isn't it, how a mis-reading of a word can be seen as cause for apology when thousands of illegal and destructive deeds and tortures constitute the Bush regime's "business as usual."
There will likely be no apologies from Bush/Cheney for putting U.S. soldiers into a fabricated war-quagmire - a disastrous, costly boomeranging invasion. But to set the record straight about who should apologize, here are on the ground reasons for nine Bush/Cheney mea culpas.
1. FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE BODY ARMOR AND TRUCK ARMOR IN A TIMELY FASHION.
A Pentagon study found that "as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor," according to a New York Times report. Hundreds of soldiers died who could have been saved.
The Washington Post reported "that in some places in Iraq the U.S. military could provide only one Interceptor vest with protective plates for every three U.S. soldiers."
2. FAILURE TO ACCURATELY REPORT CASUALTIES.
The Bush administration has undercounted injuries to soldiers in Iraq to hold down opposition to the war. Injuries that were not incurred in the middle of battle are not part of the official casualty count by the Bush Administration. Cases of diseases, such as thousands of Sand Fly afflictions, are not even counted. This disrespects these soldiers and their families to bolster a cynical political calculation.
3. FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT TROOP STRENGTH IN IRAQ
The Washington Times reports that retired military leaders who served in Iraq said that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "ignored advice for more troops, failed to make a post- invasion plan or equip troops properly and hid information from the public." "I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq," retired Army Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste told the panel. Mr. Batiste, a self-described Republican who has been criticizing Mr. Rumsfeld for months, said the secretary "forbade military planners from developing plans for securing a postwar Iraq" and helped create the current insurgency by ignoring the potential for one, though it was "an absolute certainty."
Retired Army Maj. General Paul D. Eaton, who criticized Mr. Rumsfeld in the New York Times last spring, said the post-invasion effort in Iraq is about 60,000 troops short of what it needs for success and that the Army "is in terrible shape," lacking proper equipment and resources.
President Bush should never have invaded Iraq, but whenever troops are deployed they should be at levels which are necessary to protect the civilian population -- an obligation military occupiers are required, under international law, to fulfill. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi women, men and children have become the casualties of incompetent planning.
4. FAILURE TO PROVIDE TROOPS IN IRAQ WITH SAFE DRINKING WATER.
Former Halliburton employees and army officials have testified before Congress that Halliburton provided our troops in Iraq with very contaminated water, which the troops used to shower, wash their hands and their faces, brush their teeth, wash their clothes, and sometimes even make coffee.
5. SENDING PART-TIME SOLDIERS FROM THE RESERVES AND NATIONAL GUARD ON DANGEROUS MISSIONS - SUCH AS ROADSIDE MINE SEARCHES - WITHOUT ANYTHING RESEMBLING ADEQUATE TRAINING.
6. FAILING TO CARE FOR RETURNING TROOPS.
The Knight Ridder News Service reported that the Government Accountability Office found that the Veterans Administration "badly underestimated how many soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan might seek medical and other services, in part because of problems in getting accurate information from the Pentagon." Consequently many returning troops have had difficulty getting prompt medical attention.
7. FAILURE TO HELP VETERANS WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD).
The Washington Post reports that a Government Accountability Office report concluded: "Nearly four in five service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were found to be at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were never referred by government clinicians for further help..."
8. FAILURE TO PROTECT SOLDIERS AND VETERANS FROM OFF-BASE SCAMS.
The New York Times reports that "several financial services companies or their agents are using questionable tactics on military bases to sell insurance and investments that may not fit the needs of people in uniform." USA TODAY reports that a Defense Department report said "the average borrower pays $827 on a $339 loan and called the lending predatory." A recently passed law will cap interest rates at 36 percent. The Defense Department should have cracked down on the corporate and economic predators that prey on military personnel and their families.
9. FAILURE TO ADEQUATELY PAY TROOPS WHEN ABROAD AND WHEN INJURED.
The Baltimore Sun reports that deployment in Iraq is "taking a financial toll on part-time soldiers who make up about half of the 150,000 troops there. Forty-one percent of National Guard and Reserve soldiers are losing thousands of dollars through a "pay gap" between their civilian salary and military pay..."
These inexcusable, contemptuous indifferences to the well-being of the soldiers, combined with the rush to wage an unnecessary, immoral and unconstitutional war, characterized by corrupt, wasteful contracting debacles of unprecedented proportions, should compel President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney not only to apologize, but to resign.
Bush Owes Troops Apology, Not Kerry
By Keith Olbermann
On the 22nd of May, 1856, as the deteriorating American political system veered toward the edge of the cliff, U.S. Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina shuffled into the Senate of this nation, his leg stiff from an old dueling injury, supported by a cane. And he looked for the familiar figure of the prominent senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner.
Brooks found Sumner at his desk, mailing out copies of a speech he had delivered three days earlier - a speech against slavery.
The congressman matter-of-factly raised his walking stick in midair and smashed its metal point across the senator's head.
Congressman Brooks hit his victim repeatedly. Sen. Sumner somehow got to his feet and tried to flee. Brooks chased him and delivered untold blows to Sumner's head. Even though Sumner lay unconscious and bleeding on the Senate floor, Brooks finally stopped beating him only because his cane finally broke.
Others will cite John Brown's attack on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry as the exact point after which the Civil War became inevitable.
In point of fact, it might have been the moment, not when Brooks broke his cane over the prostrate body of Sen. Sumner - but when voters in Brooks' district started sending him new canes.
Tonight, we almost wonder to whom President Bush will send the next new cane.
There is tonight no political division in this country that he and his party will not exploit, nor have not exploited; no anxiety that he and his party will not inflame.
There is no line this president has not crossed - nor will not cross - to keep one political party in power.
He has spread any and every fear among us in a desperate effort to avoid that which he most fears - some check, some balance against what has become not an imperial, but a unilateral presidency.
And now it is evident that it no longer matters to him whether that effort to avoid the judgment of the people is subtle and nuanced or laughably transparent.
Sen. John Kerry called him out Monday.
He did it two years too late.
He had been too cordial - just as Vice President Gore had been too cordial in 2000, just as millions of us have been too cordial ever since.
Sen. Kerry, as you well know, spoke at a college in Southern California. With bitter humor he told the students that he had been in Texas the day before, that President Bush used to live in that state, but that now he lives in the state of denial.
He said the trip had reminded him about the value of education - that "if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you can get stuck in Iraq."
The senator, in essence, called Mr. Bush stupid.
The context was unmistakable: Texas; the state of denial; stuck in Iraq. No interpretation required.
And Mr. Bush and his minions responded by appearing to be too stupid to realize that they had been called stupid.
They demanded Kerry apologize to the troops in Iraq.
And so he now has.
That phrase - "appearing to be too stupid" - is used deliberately, Mr. Bush.
Because there are only three possibilities here.
One, sir, is that you are far more stupid than the worst of your critics have suggested; that you could not follow the construction of a simple sentence; that you could not recognize your own life story when it was deftly summarized; that you could not perceive it was the sad ledger of your presidency that was being recounted.
This, of course, compliments you, Mr. Bush, because even those who do not "make the most of it," who do not "study hard," who do not "do their homework," and who do not "make an effort to be smart" might still just be stupid, but honest.
No, the first option, sir, is, at best, improbable. You are not honest.
The second option is that you and those who work for you deliberately twisted what Sen. Kerry said to fit your political template; that you decided to take advantage of it, to once again pretend that the attacks, solely about your own incompetence, were in fact attacks on the troops or even on the nation itself.
The third possibility is, obviously, the nightmare scenario: that the first two options are in some way conflated.
That it is both politically convenient for you and personally satisfying to you, to confuse yourself with the country for which, sir, you work.
A brief reminder, Mr. Bush: You are not the United States of America.
You are merely a politician whose entire legacy will have been a willingness to make anything political; to have, in this case, refused to acknowledge that the insult wasn't about the troops, and that the insult was not even truly about you either, that the insult, in fact, is you.
So now John Kerry has apologized to the troops; apologized for the Republicans' deliberate distortions.
Thus, the president will now begin the apologies he owes our troops, right?
This president must apologize to the troops for having suggested, six weeks ago, that the chaos in Iraq, the death and the carnage, the slaughtered Iraqi civilians and the dead American service personnel, will, to history, "look like just a comma."
This president must apologize to the troops because the intelligence he claims led us into Iraq proved to be undeniably and irredeemably wrong.
This president must apologize to the troops for having laughed about the failure of that intelligence at a banquet while our troops were in harm's way.
This president must apologize to the troops because the streets of Iraq were not strewn with flowers and its residents did not greet them as liberators.
This president must apologize to the troops because his administration ran out of "plan" after barely two months.
This president must apologize to the troops for getting 2,815 of them killed.
This president must apologize to the troops for getting this country into a war without a clue.
And Mr. Bush owes us an apology for this destructive and omnivorous presidency.
We will not receive them, of course.
This president never apologizes.
Not to the troops.
Not to the people.
Nor will those henchmen who have echoed him.
In calling him a "stuffed suit," Sen. Kerry was wrong about the press secretary.
Mr. Snow's words and conduct, falsely earnest and earnestly false, suggest he is not "stuffed," he is inflated.
And in leaving him out of the equation, Sen. Kerry gave an unwarranted pass to his old friend Sen. John McCain, who should be ashamed of himself tonight.
He rolled over and pretended Kerry had said what he obviously had not.
Only, the symbolic stick he broke over Kerry's head came in a context even more disturbing.
Mr. McCain demanded the apology while electioneering for a Republican congressional candidate in Illinois.
He was speaking of how often he had been to Walter Reed Hospital to see the wounded Iraq veterans, of how "many of them have lost limbs."
He said all this while demanding that the voters of Illinois reject a candidate who is not only a wounded Iraq veteran, but who lost two limbs there, Tammy Duckworth.
Support some of the wounded veterans. But bad-mouth the Democratic one.
And exploit all the veterans and all the still-serving personnel in a cheap and tawdry political trick to try to bury the truth: that John Kerry said the president had been stupid.
And to continue this slander as late as this morning - as biased or gullible or lazy newscasters nodded in sleep-walking assent.
Sen. McCain became a front man in a collective lie to break sticks over the heads of Democrats - one of them his friend, another his fellow veteran, legless, for whom he should weep and applaud or at minimum about whom he should stay quiet.
That was beneath the senator from Arizona.
And it was all because of an imaginary insult to the troops that his party cynically manufactured out of a desperation and a futility as deep as that of Congressman Brooks, when he went hunting for Sen. Sumner.
This is our beloved country now as you have redefined it, Mr. Bush.
Get a tortured Vietnam veteran to attack a decorated Vietnam veteran in defense of military personnel whom that decorated veteran did not insult.
Or, get your henchmen to take advantage of the evil lingering dregs of the fear of miscegenation in Tennessee, in your party's advertisements against Harold Ford.
Or, get the satellites who orbit around you, like Rush Limbaugh, to exploit the illness - and the bipartisanship - of Michael J. Fox. Yes, get someone to make fun of the cripple.
Oh, and sir, don't forget to drag your own wife into it.
"It's always easy," she said of Mr. Fox's commercials - and she used this phrase twice - "to manipulate people's feelings."
Where on earth might the first lady have gotten that idea, Mr. President?
From your endless manipulation of people's feelings about terrorism?
"However they put it," you said Monday of the Democrats, on the subject of Iraq, "their approach comes down to this: The terrorists win, and America loses."
No manipulation of feelings there.
No manipulation of the charlatans of your administration into the only truth-tellers.
No shocked outrage at the Kerry insult that wasn't; no subtle smile as the first lady silently sticks the knife in Michael J. Fox's back; no attempt on the campaign trail to bury the reality that you have already assured that the terrorists are winning.
Winning in Iraq, sir.
Winning in America, sir.
There we have chaos - joint U.S.-Iraqi checkpoints at Sadr City, the base of the radical Shiite militias, and the Americans have been ordered out by the prime minister of Iraq … and our secretary of defense doesn't even know about it!
And here we have deliberate, systematic, institutionalized lying and smearing and terrorizing - a code of deceit that somehow permits a president to say, "If you listen carefully for a Democrat plan for success, they don't have one."
Permits him to say this while his plan in Iraq has amounted to a twisted version of the advice once offered to Lyndon Johnson about his Iraq, called Vietnam.
Instead of "declare victory and get out" we now have "declare victory and stay indefinitely."
And also here - we have institutionalized the terrorizing of the opposition.
True domestic terror:
Critics of your administration in the media receive letters filled with fake anthrax.
Braying newspapers applaud or laugh or reveal details the FBI wished kept quiet, and thus impede or ruin the investigation.
A series of reactionary columnists encourages treason charges against a newspaper that published "national security information" that was openly available on the Internet.
One radio critic receives a letter threatening the revelation of as much personal information about her as can be obtained and expressing the hope that someone will then shoot her with an AK-47 machine gun.
And finally, a critic of an incumbent Republican senator, a critic armed with nothing but words, is attacked by the senator's supporters and thrown to the floor in full view of television cameras as if someone really did want to re-enact the intent - and the rage - of the day Preston Brooks found Sen. Charles Sumner.
Of course, Mr. President, you did none of these things.
You instructed no one to mail the fake anthrax, nor undermine the FBI's case, nor call for the execution of the editors of the New York Times, nor threaten to assassinate Stephanie Miller, nor beat up a man yelling at Sen. George Allen, nor have the first lady knife Michael J. Fox, nor tell John McCain to lie about John Kerry.
No, you did not.
And the genius of the thing is the same as in King Henry's rhetorical question about Archbishop Thomas Becket: "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
All you have to do sir, is hand out enough new canes.