The Moment of Truth — August 25, 2007

GW Bush’s Vietnam—Apocalypse Then and Now

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: a firecracker down the pants of the Grand Inquisitor.

Listen: George W. Bush brought up the Vietnam War. I didn’t do it, he did. He seems to think pulling US troops out of Southeast Asia was the greatest crime the US government committed there. Never mind the carpet-bombing, saturation bombing, the massacres of civilians, the bombing of Laos back to the Stone Age, the CIA’s trade in heroin. On hearing Bush’s opinion, historians immediately hit the sauce hard. They’re still drinking, trying to kill the brain cells imprinted with Bush’s most recent perversion of fact.

Bush wants us to remember all the words the Vietnam War’s aftermath gave us: boat people, re-education camps, killing fields. Let us not forget, however, the words and phrases we learned during the war: My Lai massacre, Agent Orange, forced urbanization, napalm, phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs, destroy the village in order to save it, Domino Theory, search and destroy, Tonkin Gulf Incident, credibility gap, Secret War, fragging, Phoenix program, body bags, and of course the bloodiest of all words from that period, “Vietnam War.”

The good news is, the Vietnam War is still a thorn in the side of revisionists who wish Americans would go back to loving war as much as they did when FDR, Churchill and Stalin teamed up to fight the Axis powers. But for a pathetically beaten man like Bush to play the “Indochina was lost by the anti-war movement” card at this stage in the game—this stage being the stage at which even the military has to be censored to keep the fully embarrassing scope of US failure in Iraq from coming to light—for Bush to risk opening the comparison-to-Vietnam can o’ worms is just mind-boggling.

Is this Karl Rove’s idea of a joke? Has he secretly come to hate Bush, setting off this stink bomb just before leaving the building? Or is it some sardonic dance of death before succumbing to political irrelevance? Or do these incompetent opportunists really think they can change the hearts and minds of a nation disgusted with this catastrophic war of choice by pointing out its resemblance to an even worse catastrophe?

Let’s say a friend said to you, “Remember how awful the withdrawal was when you gave up heroin cold turkey? Well, now you’re hooked on cocaine, and I know you think that’s a problem, but just remember how hard it was to quit last time.”

Is that person really your friend? Of course not. It would be more accurate to characterize him as an asshole. And to characterize such advice if that person were your coke dealer, surely the words “conflict of interest” would occur to you, along with the words “bull” and “shit.”

The Karl Rove strategy was always to anticipate the opposition’s argument and get in there first, with a psychotically bold statement, to define the parameters of the debate. But once you’ve proven to over 60% of the population that your ideas are wrong, this strategy, rather than reframing reality, just reveals how detached you are from it. When one has lost credibility, statements like, “exporting US jobs overseas to exploit cheap labor is good for US workers” sound psychotic even to most Republicans, who have a high tolerance for psychotic behavior. But this administration just can’t rein themselves in. They don’t know any other way to behave. They’re like Robin Williams at a funeral, you just want to say, “Enough with the monkeyshines already. It’s not cute anymore.”

The bad news is, even though these guys have been the loudest, most egregious nation-rapers the US has ever had at its helm, they’re still getting away with it. They’ve been shouting, “We’re raping you! HAW HAW HAW!” at the top of their lungs since they got into office, and only in the past year-and-a-half or so have they even been frowned at by most of their domestic victims.

And it’s a given that none of these miniature Neros and Caligulas is going to suffer any punishment, nor be required to pay any restitution. National politics in the USA is clearly the one place where, without fail, crime pays.

So what hope does the US have when the much more subtle Democrats gain control, the Democrats who are so polite, who will make such a good impression on the parents when they show up to take the US out to the prom, the Democrats who will speak in silken tones of how much they care about the US, meanwhile slipping roofies into her Vanilla Coke?

It would really go a long way to preventing another gang rape of the United States, not to mention another cloning of the Vietnam War, if everyone in the Bush administration could just be lined up against the wall and shot for treason. Considering the breadth of bald-faced criminality perpetrated by them—the advisory panels made up of corporations who could profit from executive actions, no-bid contracts to corporations intimately entwined with the White House and the Cabinet, lack of oversight of those contractors, non-fulfillment of those contracts, the disappearance of billions of dollars in oil, weapons and cash with no sign the administration gives a crap, the falsification of evidence for the case for war, non-compliance with legislative and executive organs of oversight, lying to Congress, spying on Americans, kidnapping and torture—seeing all these crimes committed in broad daylight and no price to be paid by the criminals, one begins to understand the appeal of a good, old-fashioned Reign of Terror, where no one is above suspicion of treason, heads roll and blood rushes in torrents through the streets.

And let us not forget all the bloodshed that happened because the Reign of Terror ended too soon! If we the people had just had the resolve to send every possible traitor to the guillotine, instead of listening to the anti-Reign of Terrorists and succumbing to Terror fatigue, we might have prevented the devastation wrought by Napoleon. Yes, we could have won the Reign of Terror. So, in the words of Rambo (not Rimbaud), “Can we win this time?”

We can. If another Vietnam War is worth fighting, surely another Reign of Terror is an even better idea. The GOP had no trouble finding a Nero to clear brush while Rome burns—how hard could it be to find a Robespierre? Cheney would do, he’s a natural. Can’t you just see him, hinting at whom he wants executed, denouncing enemies of the Republican Revolution? That whole Valerie Plame thing showed a lot of promise. I’m sure he’s orchestrated similar covert acts of vengeance with more success, we just haven’t heard about them—because they were successful. He’d be a high-tech Robespierre, a Robespierre with a state-of-the-art underground command center. There’s no doubt he wouldn’t scruple to guillotine every last compatriot of his if it came down to it, you know that, right? When the next administration tries to take office and Cheney refuses to relinquish power, maybe we should just let him have his way. With Cheney at the helm wielding dictatorial power, a Republican Revolution should spiral into a Reign of Terror within a year or two at most.

As bad as leaders have been in the past, humanity has now reached a watershed moment, when the office of blood-drinking mandarin has become the universal institution of state control. It’s time government got the people it deserves. Faced with nothing but corrupt and self-serving leadership, we the people of the world have a choice: we can allow events to steamroll over us, or we can grab the reins of history and ride, foam flying from our lips as we laugh maniacally, setting the landscape aflame and trampling everything in our path.

Apocalyptic, no? Well, get with times. Apocalypse is totally “now.”

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!

You can read past Moments of Truth in The Moment of Truth Archives. Jeff delivers his commentary on “This Is Hell,” a unique progressive radio show hosted by bitter, blind, gap-toothed Chuck Mertz, broadcast live from the campus of Northwestern University on the web at WNUR.org every Saturday morning beginning 10am Eastern Time. The show is podcast, and its archives and the excellent website for the show are at “This Is Hell.”