Bill O'Reilly: "The Kerry camp blames Bush is behind it. The Bush campaign wouldn't be that dumb." O'Reilly's own words foreshadow the fact that he's smart enough to know the truth of the political game involved. If the GOP, RNC, Bush campaign or related 527 group really wants to unzip both candidate's fly and measure their Vietnam-era hard-ons in some fratboy locker room fashion, George W. Bush couldn't win that contest even after the RNC drags Bob Dole in front of a national TV audience for a few soundbytes with a mouthful of veteran's viagra.
Unlike some fellowbloggers, I haven't blogged anything about the swift boat political advertisements or the muddy waters of political groups in which they seem to endlessly swirl on cable news, until now. As University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole wrote very recently on his site, Informed Comment:
The debate that a handful of Texas multi-millionnaires close to the Bush family have cleverly manufactured over John Kerry's war record is absurd in every way .... But to address the substance of this Big Lie is to risk falling into its logic. The true absurdity of the entire situation is easily appreciated when we consider that George W. Bush never showed any bravery at all at any point in his life .... Kerry saved a man's life while under fire. Bush did no such thing.
So what was little Dubya doing during the Vietnam War? Maybe the history professor can educate us further:
We all know by now that Bush did not even do his full service with the Texas Air National Guard, absenting himself to work on the Alabama senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount. Whether he was actually AWOL during this stint is unclear. But it is clear that not only did Bush slack off on his National Guard service, but he also slacked off from his campaign work.
This little-noted interview with Blount's nephew Murph Archibald, which appeared on National Public Radio's All Things Considered on March 30, 2004, gives a devastating insight into what it was like to have to suffer through Bush in that period.
If I make this an open-book history quiz, you should read the entire post by professor Cole. I haven't even bothered with the Dubya's cocaine use, born-again-on-the-wagon period, or the psychological effects that those things might bring to bear on the leader of the most powerful country in the world with a $400 billion annual budget with which he now can really play army. Here are just two snippets from the interview.
GOODWYN: Far from Texas and Washington, DC, Mr. Bush enjoyed his freedom. He dated a beautiful young woman working on the campaign. He went out in the evenings and had a good time. In fact, he left the house he rented in such disrepair--with damage to the walls and a chandelier destroyed--that the Montgomery family who owned it still grumble about the unpaid repair bill. Archibald says Mr. Bush would come into the office and, in a friendly way, offer up stories about the drinking he'd done the night before, kind of as a conversation starter.
GOODWYN: According to Archibald, Mr. Bush would also sometimes tell stories about his days at Yale in New Haven, and how whenever he got pulled over for erratic driving, he was let go after the officers discovered he was the grandson of a Connecticut US senator. Archibald, a middle-class Alabama boy--who, by the way, is now a registered Democrat--didn't like that story.
Pencils down. Dubya's Swift Boat Just Doesn't Float. I'm a helluva lot more concerned with the fact that this entire GOP smoke screen hides current lies, secrecy, corruption and empire-as-usual in the Bush World administration. Honestly, I don't care what little Dubya did during Vietnam, I care what he did to drunkenly drive the country into the mother of all quagmires in Iraq.
Look, quagmire is Vietnam era term, but it's truly an understatement. Right now, we're only one bad day away from reaching 1000 soldiers killed in Iraq. Since the Bush administration can't seem to pull Osama out of a hat, no matter how much it pays and pressures the Pakistani ISI to produce a high value target before the election, Bush and Cheney are hoping that they can swagger into the upcoming Republican National Convention in NYC with some good news from Iraq. Hence, another push to go after their puppet government's most vocal 'insurgent' -- 'radical' Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al Sadr, in Najaf.
The reason I think quagmire is an understatement is because as far as quagmires go, 1000 dead and 6000 wounded in Iraq is just the skinned-over top of a huge pit-o-quagmire on top of which our country is currently and precariously sitting, if the Bush World political gambling goes awry. And don't even utter the words exit strategy, because if you think the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Iraq plan looked bumbling because they didn't seem to have any plan ... it's because there never was any exit strategy ever. Bush isn't nation-building. He isn't pulling troops out of the Pacific and Europe to come home. The new Bush World term -- think enduring camp. But for today, look at the monthly numbers of KIA and wounded readily available online, like the bar graph on Global Security. The last largest spike in deaths was the last time we went into Najaf militarily.
An Islamic holy city, Najaf is home to the shrine of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet Mohammad’s cousin and son-in-law and fourth caliph (656-661). Najaf also contains one of the largest cemeteries in the world. According to Imam Ali, any Muslim buried here will enter paradise; as a result, the tombs of several prophets are found in Najaf. Shia Muslims especially consider it a privilege to be buried here. Like Karbala, Najaf became an important center of Islamic scholarship and theology. During his exile from Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini lived here for 12 years prior to the 1979 revolution in Iran. In 1999, the Iraqi Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammad Sadiq al-Sadr was assassinated in Najaf, sparking clashes between Shia and the Iraqi government.
In the nineteenth century, the shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala in Ottoman Iraq emerged as the most important Shi‘i centers of learning. Najaf is known for being an Islamic center for scientific, literary and theological studies for the whole Islamic world and mainly for the Shiites, therefore Najaf is attractive for a large number of people, poets, authors and other visitors from China/India, Lebanon, Pakistan and Iran which is estimated annually over half a million.
I highlighted Moqtada al Sadr's grandfather's name. The reason al Sadr wears a black turban is because he's blood-related to the assassinated/martyred Islamic high holy man, not because he thinks it's fashionable this year. I know what you're thinking. The U.S. is being careful not to dent the shrine. Fine. That's smart, but:
Shiites from all over the world, not only Iraqis or Iranians, but Shiites from Pakistan, India, Bahrain, all over the world go to Najaf and they ask to be buried in Najaf close to that mosque. And historically and religiously it's a very important city and mosque for Shiite Muslims. Shiites aspire to bury their dead in its cemetery, which stretches for miles. To the north and east of the town there are acres of graves and myriads of domes of various colors and at various stages of disrepair. The cemetery of Al-Najaf is one of the largest cemeteries in the world. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing in Najaf is the graveyard. Millions of Muslims over the centuries have been brought here for burial from all parts of the world of Islam. So Najaf is embraced by a vast semi-circle of graves- by an immense City of the Dead.
Bush may not be a beer-guzzling fratboy anymore, but he's drunk with power if he thinks that Muslims will be happy over what has already been happening in Najaf, Iraq. Look, it's like me walking into the Vatican to arrest a child-molesting priest hiding there, but all I do is spit on the floor and put my cigarette out on the face of Jesus' shroud of Turin. Since Bush is too drunk on something to understand that, I personally don't want him around for his next power binge.