- By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
And then you read the appalling little story about how BushCo is now "taking steps" to further the investigation into why their original intelligence on Iraq was so painfully, treasonously, colon-clenchingly wrong, why they thought Saddam had giant Costco-sized warehouses stacked to the rafters with snarling nukes and nasty biotoxins and active warheads when, in fact, he had nothing but a couple Dumpsters full of rusty 20-year-old shell casings and a bucket of stale glue.
And don't forget the part about how Congress allotted hundreds of millions of dollars for the futile WMD search, with no public accounting of the money, and the entire budget and the expenditures are to remain classified, by order of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Ha ha. Sigh.
This is about the time your head spins all the way around and you shudder in disbelief and you stifle a giggle and hold your sides and restrain yourself from gagging, think happy thoughts about sex and love and trees because otherwise you just smash your head with a brick and throw puppies into paper shredders to numb the pain and quiet the screams.
Because if you've been paying any attention at all, this is when you remember that it was at Bush/Cheney's own order that the CIA intelligence reports be intentionally skewed and rewritten, that they doctor their reports to say what BushCo wanted them to say to justify their vicious and unwinnable little war that is quickly shaping up to be one of the most economically debilitating, socially humiliating, deadly quagmires since Vietnam.
And this is when you remember, furthermore, how BushCo forced poor emasculated Colin Powell to stand up in front of Congress and shake little vials of anthrax and hold up completely bogus proofs, including satellite images of supposed "mobile biological-weapons labs" which were, instead, tanks of hydrogen for weather balloons. New drinking game: replay the video of Powell's testimony, take a shot whenever a final spark of his remaining dignity dies.
And you sit there and just let it all sink into your skin for a few seconds before frantically brushing yourself off, as if you were just hit by a swarm of pissy Republican gnats. I mean, get them off me.
Does it bear repeating? Are we too far gone? Do we even care that the WMD search has been quietly, meekly, officially called off in Iraq after two full years of ardent searching and after 1,200 of BushCo's own highly trained scientists and investigators -- not the U.N., not Democrats, not icky foreigners, not crazy liberals, not gay-marriage advocates -- but Bush's own people, preprogrammed to dig up the absolute tiniest shred of evidence of Saddam's gnarly intentions and hold it up and scream in giddy delight, and who found, well, absolutely nothing at all?
Yes, many Americans are "concerned" about Bush's handling of the war. Yes, his approval rating heading into Nightmare Phase II are the lowest of any two-term president in recent history. But, overall, Americans seemed to like him enough to give him another term and they think he's doing an OK job despite the economy and the deficit and the misogyny and self-righteous Bible thumping, and the nation as a whole seems to have assimilated the lies, the bogus war, the death and pain and economic violence.
Let's spell it out again, one more time, just for old time's sake. There was no "bad" intelligence. There was no evil Saddam plotting an overthrow of the world. There was only BushCo-branded coercion and misprision and traitorous presidential lies the scale of which make Nixon look like a pickpocket. The CIA and the FBI and the Pentagon said it outright: Saddam was harmless. No threat. No WMD. No reason to go to war. Period. Didn't matter.
And Saddam did not, as some Repubs whined and as the new reports -- again from Bush's own people -- prove, Saddam did not hide WMDs in Syria. Or Pakistan. Or New Jersey. He did not bury them underground or paint them over to look like circus tents or stash them in the back of the Winnebago Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie were driving in "The Simple Life 2." Bush's WMDs never existed. And he knew it. What's worse? We knew he knew it. And he got away with it anyway.
And now, more than 1,300 U.S. soldiers have died and over 10,000 have been wounded and countless tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, women and children and families, have died, brutally, horribly, and the war is getting uglier, worse, more violent and out of control and increasingly controlled by guerrillas and astoundingly effective Shiite radicals and no one anywhere really knows why we're at war anymore. No one.
We haven't helped Iraq. We haven't furthered "the march of peace." We have done nothing to improve the conditions of the region by cramming Bush's snide version of Christian democracy down their throats. Saddam was indeed a murderous thug. And guess what? We knew it all along, even when he was our ally, even when he used the poison gas we sold to him to kill all those pesky Kurds with our implicit blessing. Remember that nice shot of Donny "Black Eyes" Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam? Exactly.
This, then, is the current upshot: the terrorists are as giddy as schoolgirls. Bush's warmongering agenda has done more to destabilize the Middle East than Osama could have ever dreamed. The U.S. is more loathed and mocked on the global stage than anytime in past 100 years. Our credibility as a peacemaker and a humanitarian force is the lowest in modern history, so much so that Bush had to send out a signed op-ed letter to the international papers, claiming that the American government really does care about all those dead Muslim tsunami victims, no really we do, despite how many of their co-religionists we're killing in our brutal occupation of Iraq.
And now, all outrage has become muted and lethargic. All protests, in the wake of BushCo's nauseating fear-based win last November, have become pale and moot and limp. We are numb and resigned to the steady stream of lie and abuse. This is the sentiment, even among many fear-hammered red staters who insist on seeing Bush as their pseudo-religious dumb-guy Messiah: a sort of national teeth gritting, a dark period in America, a hunkering down and waiting for it to be over and for the light to emerge again.
Term II is under way. The vicious Republican PR machine is of such potent talent that Bush could now walk up to a live TV camera and jam his thumbs in his big monkey ears and wiggle his fingers and stick out his tongue and say Ppppbbbtthhtt, ha ha America, it's my gul-dang war and I knew all along Saddam was an easy mark, a pip-squeak tyrant, never had WMDs, and I lied to the whole stupid nation to make me look manly and to help my buddies in Big Oil, and in the military industry, and in my daddy's Carlyle Group, and for my rich Saudi pals.
And he could say: Too bad about all those dead 'Murkin soldiers. Too bad about all those soldiers who will be dying very soon. Too bad they can't go AWOL and skip out on the war like I did. Too bad they're dying for reasons no one can justify, and never could. Okey doke, I'm off to the ranch for even more vacation, the most of any president in American history. Bye now. Oh, yes, one more thing: ppppbbbtthhtt!
And most of America would apparently sit there and watch him, and sigh, and go, oh that Dubya, such an honest and God-loving man, so simple and plainspoken and not all that bright. Just like the rest of us. He's a Good Man, isn't he? He's sturdy and stalwart and on the side of righteousness. I mean, isn't he, Lord? Hello?
Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SF Gate, unless it appears on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which it never does. Subscribe to this column at sfgate.com/newsletters.