What's All This Then?

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

After watching Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman’s appearance on Meet The Press last Sunday, I wondered how long it took the stage hand crew to mop up all the slickness that must have covered the floor of the studio by the time he had finished slipping and sliding away from the questions put to him by Tim Russet. It was really a remarkable performance. Party chairmen are supposed to put the best possible spin on their party’s policies and proposals, but Mehlman, much like the RWRAR (right wing ranters and ravers for those who are new to this blog or who have forgotten the acronym) who are to this day trying to re-write the history of the early seventies, found a whole new approach to partisan spinning. He simply refused to accept current history.

Again and again when Russet asked him to comment on things that didn’t reflect too favorably on his President, such as polls showing a lack of public support for the President’s Social Security proposals, Mehlman "respectfully disagreed." He didn’t agree with the polls. He knew of some other polls that no one else knew about but "respectfully disagreed" with all of the polls that everyone knows about.

But the most egregious use of what I presume will become Mehlman’s Sunday morning news shows catch phrase, concerned the infamous Downing Street memo. He didn’t start off "respectfully disagreeing" with the memo. He just said it had been discredited. He cited the 9/11 commission and the Senate as among those who have examined this memo and condemned its inaccuracies, but didn’t provide any information about when they looked at the memo and when they publicly issued a statement saying that the memo was full of beans. Maybe that’s because such statements haven’t been issued by the Senate or the 9/11 Commission. But that’s the way it goes when you’re in the full spin mode.

He did "respectfully disagree" with that portion of the memo that said that there had been no discussion in Washington to plan for the aftermath of military action. Mehlman said that there had indeed been such discussion - and of course the truth of that statement is born out by the unfolding of the post military action plan that we see taking place across the Iraqi landscape day after day.

It’s a tough job having to defend any and all of your bosses actions - and as far as I know, most insurance plans don’t cover corrective surgery for Pinocchiotis Expandosis.

But as disingenuous as spinning may be, the spinning of a political party chairman is a little easier to take than the same sort of thing coming from heads of state.

Tony Blair isn’t quite as bad as George W Bush. He will, when pressed, own up to having made mistakes in his position as Prime Minister. The day we hear that kind of confession from Dubya, I expect gold to peak at a thousand dollars an ounce and the Cubs to win the World Series. But what Blair can’t admit - and what I wouldn’t expect him to admit, is that he made a mistake in agreeing to join in the invasion of Iraq. It would of course be suicide for him to do so, but to my mind he is slowly committing "legacycide" - casting shadows on his own legacy - by continuing to lie about what led up to the invasion.

It was truly pathetic to listen yesterday to this highly intelligent and articulate leader of the United Kingdom insist that he and the United States acted honorably and honestly because they "went to the United Nations" after the meeting that the Downing Street memo describes. In other words, he is asking us to put credence in the charade that we conducted at the UN and in other public arenas to try to legitimize the action that he and the President had already decided would take place.

It is an insult to the intelligence of fair minded citizens of this country and the United Kingdom to keep insisting that we only invaded Iraq as a "last resort" and that we would have preferred to have resolved the conflict peacefully. You would have to be a blithering idiot to believe that anything that Saddam would have done short of producing weapons of mass destruction that he didn’t have, committing suicide or submitting himself to arrest and trial by some international body, could have stopped us from invading.

Even though Labour retained power in the recent UK elections, a majority of British citizens believe that Blair made a big mistake in supporting the Iraqi invasion. They, like us, don’t expect that he will publicly agree with them and admit that he made a mistake. It’s next to impossible for a leader to say he was wrong after sending dozens of his country’s soldiers to their deaths. I can understand that. Most reasonable people can. But I’ll never be able to understand nor forgive a leader who continues to insult their memory and the rest of us by continuing to lie about why he sent them into harms way in the first place.

In Bush’s case, believing that he has been appointed by God to export democracy to the world, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has actually convinced himself that he is being open and truthful about why we attacked Iraq. Blair I am sure is laboring under no such delusion, yet he continues to parrot the same spin in the face of mounting evidence of their joint untruthfulness.

There’s really nothing that President Bush can do or say that would be a disappointment to me. But to this expatriate Englishman, Tony Blair is one big disappointment.