"I'm not going to blame the young man who is president for the mess we're in today," said former Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Leroy Irvis, "because I don't think he knows what he's doing."
The line got a big laugh at the annual Allegheny Democratic Party Kennedy-Lawrence dinner Oct. 20, but Irvis didn't appear to be going for big yuks from the audience at the Station Square Sheraton. Irvis made history in 1977 by becoming the first black Speaker in Pennsylvania history. He is one of those old-school politicians who likes to discuss issues and not constantly trash the other side. "I think [Bush's] father knew what he was doing," said Irvis. "And I think that's why he stopped when he did," referring to Bush One's decision not to take Baghdad after the first Gulf War.
Irvis was not using what he sees as Dubya's ignorance as a defense of his disastrous policies. He was just stating what he viewed as a cold, hard reality. What I find to be flabbergasting -- and it gasts my flabber every time -- is the people who use Bush's ignorance as a reason not to blame him for the disastrous state of the world today.
This line of thinking goes that Bush was duped by Cheney and Rumsfeld, who seemed like reasonable, knowledgeable men. They led poor George down the path to a quagmire. And perhaps there's something to this theory. Why should we blame an unqualified bumpkin for believing two men who know a lot more than he does? After all, Dick didn't seem to be such a reckless fool when he worked for Dad.
A Republican actually told me it was silly to blame Dubya exclusively for the war in Iraq. Sure, I suppose, you could blame: the CIA for astonishingly bad intelligence; Cheney for cherry-picking the intel to make war sound necessary when it wasn't; Condi for not being more skeptical of the intel while baby-sitting Dubya; and Congress for approving the resolution for Bush to make war if necessary.
But at the end of the day, George W. Bush, and only George W. Bush, had the power to say, "OK, let's do it."
Just because he had no idea we wouldn't be welcomed as liberators, that doesn't excuse his bad decision. Just because he had no plan to win the peace resulting in the deaths of more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians, that doesn't excuse his mistake. Just because his men on the ground prematurely disbanded the Iraqi army, which even General Tommy Franks now views as a mistake, that doesn't mean George gets to skate on his responsibility.
Why everyone wants to give this guy a pass on a war he started is beyond me. It's like a puppy who crapped on the rug but no one wants to swat the little fella with a rolled-up newspaper 'cause he's so cute.
Well this little goober-dog crapped on the whole world on his way into Baghdad, and we should smack him but good with the Sunday edition of The New York Times.
Back to the Democratic dinner and Mr. Irvis. There were many speakers that night ... Virginia Governor Mark Warner, Congressman/Senator-wannabe Joe Hoeffel and others. There was an audible murmur as most spoke.
But you could hear a pin drop when former Speaker Irvis pointed out that we're the most powerful nation the world has ever known, and yet with out-of-control spending and world alienation well underway, we, like the Roman Empire, could one day fall.
The future of the United States of America is on the ballot on Nov. 2. Whaddya say we elect a president who, if God forbid he does initiate some military adventure, will at least have the wisdom and experience to know what the hell he's getting us into ... a guy who's seen combat and will be more reluctant to send troops unless it's necessary. Dubya's fear-mongering and saber-rattling aside, that's a good thing.
Or, we can always stay with the goober-dog, too cute to punish, and accept our inevitable future: cleaning up one giant mess after another. The war ain't Dubya's fault? Now that's a load of crap.