Sunday, September 10, 2006


Innocence Lost

In the aftermath of 9/11 I lost something totally unexpected. At nearly 50, I finally lost my innocence.

I once imagined the world as run by adults, men and women more or less like me, except politically ambitious – or more accurately, ambitious, period. Politics – and government - was only one of many things on which I didn’t care to spend time and energy. I figured that adults were mostly parents – and therefore caring, mostly honest, mostly thoughtful, and all flawed. I imagined the difference between one politician and another as not much, and unavoidably so because of the poison of the money it took to get elected.

I was wrong. It’s not that one party, say, Republicans, is inherently bad and the other good. Both major parties could be good, or both bad. But prior to 9/11, I imagined them as both mostly good, with Republicans having the edge. I was comfortable voting Republican.

Clinton and his indiscretions only cemented my preference for Republicans. Oh, I had no illusions that leading Republicans were all faithful husbands to their various wives and faithful stewards of the nation’s well being. But none, so far as I knew, lacked the common sense and restraint to be fellated in the oval office. If Clinton was the best the Democratic party had to offer, then bring on the Republicans. After all, they at least were adults, unlike Clinton, right?

Then came the fiasco of the 2000 elections. I thought the outcome correct, but the process!!! How could it be more screwed up.

And then, 9/11. The towers imploding, Bush flying around the country, the whole surreal event captured live. Bush standing on the rubble, bullhorn in hand. Osama Bin Laden gloating - and the Saudi families being flown out of the country. Theater of the absurd.

I opposed the Afghanistan war. Not because I felt it wrong to go after OBL, but because I couldn’t imagine a war that would cost less and be more effective than just buying the entire place. And treasure is one thing, but blood is another. This nation’s children’s blood, Afghani blood – innocent would suffer right along with the guilty. Then and now, killing MORE innocents will never make up for the lives lost on 9/11.

And Iraq. Iraq was wrong on every level. We hadn’t finished up in Afghanistan, and now we were going to go to war in a country with the flimsiest of evidence of wrong doing? WHY?

There is no why but hubris. Hubris and evil.

And that is the innocence I lost. There is evil in this world, and it isn’t always intentional evil, the evil of Hitler or Stalin. Sometimes it is the evil of incompetence, the evil of hollow pride, the evil of bigotry, the evil of zealotry. That is the lesson I learned, that not all of us are adults, not all of us are caring, and that poisoned or not, it does matter who we elect, who gets to wear the mantle of President of the United States of America.

We get the government we deserve, and we got Bush and Cheney and the Republicans in charge of the House and Senate. We failed ourselves badly.

Too many failures of that magnitude and this country becomes an historical footnote in the Cartoon Book of World History, listed right after the Fall of the Roman Empire.

Until we do something, until we elect counterweights to this Maladministration, we are all Republicans in a time of Dubya, and our hands are stained with the blood of innocents.

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