Thursday, September 01, 2005
Published on Monday, August 29, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
George W. Bush's Noble Cause - 'Political Capital'
by Thom Hartmann
Cindy Sheehan continues to ask George W. Bush what the "Noble Cause" was for which her son died in Iraq, and why Bush's daughters haven't enlisted in this Cause.
While Bush talked to us about WMDs, an imminent "mushroom cloud," and tried to link Saddam and Iraq to 9/11 (when it was 14 Saudis who hit the World Trade Center), those all fell apart and were exposed (by no less than Paul Wolfowitz) as intentional lies. When Bush shifted his Noble Cause to invading Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqi people, the Downing Street Memo told another story. And now, also, so does Bush's first biographer.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the way Bush lied us into invading Iraq, particularly the timing of it all (ginning it up just before the 2002 midterm elections), was done largely so Republicans could win take back the Senate in 2002 after losing it because of Jim Jeffords' defection, and so Bush could win the White House in the election of 2004.
It's apparently just that simple, just that banal, and ultimately just that traitorous to the traditional ideals of America.
This is why the greatest political threat that Cindy Sheehan represents to George W. Bush and his Republican Party is in her ability to point this out.
So far, Cindy has only done this once, but it had a powerful impact on those who heard her. Speaking before Congressman John Conyers' investigative commission on the war in Iraq, Sheehan said:
"My son, Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan, was killed in action in Sader City, Baghdad, on 04/04/04. He was in Iraq for only 2 weeks before L. Paul Bremer inflamed the Shiite militia into rebellion, which resulted in the deaths of Casey and six other brave soldiers who were tragically killed in an ambush. My friend Bill Mitchell, the father of Sergeant Mike Mitchell who was one of the other soldiers killed that awful day, is here with us today.
"This is a picture of my son Casey when he was 7 months old. It's an enlargement of a picture he carried in his wallet until the day he was killed. He loved this picture of himself. It was returned to us with his personal effects from Iraq. He always sucked on those two fingers. When he was born he had a flat face from passing through the birth canal and we called him Edward G., short for Edward G. Robinson.
"How many of you have ever seen your child in his or her premature coffin? It is a shocking and very painful sight. The most heart-breaking aspect of seeing Casey lying in his casket for me was that his face was flat again because he had no muscle tone. He looked like he did when he was a baby laying in his bassinet.
"The most tragic irony is that if the Downing Street Memo proves to be true, Casey and thousands of people should still be alive.
"I believe our leaders invaded Iraq in March 2003 -- I believe before our leaders Iraq in March 2003, and I am even more convinced now, that this aggression on Iraq was based on a lie of historic proportions and was blatantly unnecessary.
"The so-called Downing Street Memo dated 23 July 2002, only confirms what I already suspected, the leadership of his country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence. Iraq was no threat to the United States of America, and the devastating sanctions and bombing against the Iraq were working.
"As a matter of fact, in interviews in 1999 with respected journalist and long-time Bush family friend, Mickey Herskowitz, then Governor George Bush stated, 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.'
"It looks like George Bush was ready to lead this country into an avoidable war even before he became President.
"From the expose of the Downing Street Memo and the conversations with George Bush from 1999, it seems like the invasion of Iraq and the deaths of so many innocent people were preordained.
"It appears that my boy Casey was given a death sentence even before he joined the Army in May 2000."
Mickey Herskowitz - a Texan and longtime friend of the Bush family - had been hired to write the first draft of Bush's autobiography, now in print under the title "A Charge To Keep." In citing Bush's determination to invade Iraq to gain "political capital" even before he was appointed to the Presidency in 2001, Sheehan was quoting an article by Russ Baker, who extensively interviewed Herskowitz. Baker noted:
Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. 'Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker.'"
Oil, to the Bushies, would be a nice bonus. So was the possibility of greater security for Israel and other allies in the region, and a staging ground for possible future military action in Iran and Saudi Arabia. And let's not forget those profits for Halliburton and other big Republican contributors.
But the main reason Bush invaded Iraq, it turns out, was so Republicans could take back the US Senate in the election of 2002, and Bush could finally win an election in 2004.
As Bush himself said two days after the election, in a press conference on November 4, 2004:
"And it's one of the wonderful -- it's like earning capital. You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it..."
In the mind of George W. Bush, accumulating political power -- political capital -- is a Noble Cause. Whether America's veterans and grieving families will agree is another matter entirely.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. http://www.thomhartmann.com/commondreams.shtml His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," "The Edison Gene", and "What Would Jefferson Do?"