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writing for godot

W. Should Confess

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Written by Carl Peterson   
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 07:30

 

 

W. should confess his sins against his country, Iraq and the World.  I say "sins" because as a self-avowed Christian W. ought to understand that concept.  And I say "sins" because where I see this country headed, the concept of civic sin may a useful one to meet the rising dark tide of American anti-democracy.

W. failed in his presidential obligations to his country when he invaded Iraq.  And his failure was so profound that it is a sin, not against God, or religion, but against the people he was elected to represent, and against the innocent people of Iraq whose lives were destroyed by his failure, and against the hopes for a World where violence is the last option, not the one before the first option.

Even if W. did not know that his invasion of Iraq was on a phony pretext, that would not be exculpatory for a president of the United States.  For a president, no excuse is possible for a failure so abysmal.  Not ignorance, not incompetence, not susceptibility to manipulation, not incuriousness, not callowness, not anything.  W. sinned against his country, Iraq and the World.  He should attempt to atone for that.  W. should confess.

Some of us may forget--some may reflect upon W.'s presidency, and, noting that he has taken up a creative hobby where he displays a greater talent than any he ever revealed in his political life, may be inclined to leniency and a revision of their opinion of W., especially that we now have a president who, if we are lucky, will one day be widely known as the most absurd president in American history--and not, I hope, after all our history books are burned and the new ones required reading--as the Greatest President in American History.  Some of us reflexively feel that compared to this one, W. really wasn't all that bad.  But this ahistorical view of W.'s failure plays into the hands of those Americans among us now working day and night to undo what is left of our democracy.  We, the people, need to retain for ourselves some awareness of context, some sense of history, we need to remember what was bad, what was good, so that we can see the truth now about what is bad, what is good.  We are in an era now where if we, the people, don't remember what happened, then there is a good chance that no one will.  We should know that even if a worse president comes along after a bad president, that doesn't make the bad president any better.  W. was an abysmal president, certainly among the worst presidents, maybe the worst president ever, and that won't change just because a more repugnant president came along soon after.

Both things can be true.  W. was perhaps the worst president in American history, did incalculable damage to the country that he was elected to serve, and the current president is headed now to the top of the charts of Worst President in History.  Depending on how you measure it, he is already there.  It is possible, isn't it?  That if Americans had really understood and remembered now how we ended up in Iraq (a non sequitur to 9/11 if ever there was one) we would not so soon after have elected a president such as we have now--whose character could yield a disaster far worse than the world-changing catastrophe of the American war in Iraq.

Through fraud, lies, and propaganda W.'s administration averted the course of American history into a wholly gratuitous, senseless, tragic war that cost thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, trillions of dollars, and still has not produced anything that could even begin to justify it.  The war in Iraq remains an unmitigated world-calamity that could have been prevented by one person, and instead he, W., made it happen.  W., to put it in terms that he should be able to understand, sinned against his country, and to broaden the scope of my claim let me say that W. sinned against the Iraqi people, and, in his pernicious example of monstrous, gratuitous, international violence, sinned against the hopes of humanity.  It may seem amiss, somehow, that a man of such small ability should be deemed responsible for sins of this magnitude, and, indeed, it is probable that he did not have the ability on his own to make the war happen, but he certainly could have prevented the war, and he didn't.  Rather, in his role as "decider," he decided to make it happen.  W. is profoundly guilty.

Athenians of the 5th century BC sometimes ostracized (voted into exile for a period of 10 years) citizens and political leaders who for one reason or another were in public disfavor or believed to be dangerous to the city-state.  If such a procedure was available to America, and W. had been ostracized following the debacle in Iraq, maybe that would have been enough to properly memorialize his failure, and to provide a reminder to future presidents that America was founded as a democracy, and its political leaders must be consequentially answerable to the people.

Ostracizing W. would certainly have been better for America than what is now happening.  Just 10 years after the end of his abysmal presidency, W. is trying to slip the record of his failures down the memory hole, recently giving a speech that he probably had little input in writing, but, that in being indirectly critical of the current president plays to the forgiving flow of American ahistoricity:  Hey, did you hear that speech?  Maybe W. wasn't so bad after all, at least he wasn't a hater, a sexist, a racist, a fascist. At least he's on the right side of this thing. But I remember W.'s presidency.  For him to be attempting an image makeover only reminds me of his deep shallowness, of the curse that the first half of his life apparently tutored into him: an inability to understand or feel responsibility for what he has done.

W. could serve his country now by telling the truth, confessing to his presidential sins.  If he has locked the truth away from himself, then he will first need to unlock that door, do some research, and bear the horror of what he finds.  From what he has shown so far in his life, W. would not be capable of such a brave encounter with the truth, but public confession is W.'s last chance to provide the worthy service to his country that he did not provide as president.  Instead of being merely remembered as the president who recklessly, seriously wounded his own country, unjustly mauled another one, and then attempted to retreat into the sunset as if nothing much really had happened, W. could be the president, maybe the first one, brave enough to tell the truth about his own failures.  And since his failures, his sins, were great, he would need to be very brave to tell that truth.

W.'s country needs that kind of truth now.  The tiny compassless men seem to be everywhere.  It is plain that as menials they labor to roll back the American democracy on behalf of something they believe to be  more important than Americans, bigger than America.  Could it be mere careerism?  Their party, the one that when I was a boy styled itself as the party of red-blooded American patriotism, but now never dares--or hasn't the time--to broach that topic, seems to have come to despise the American people, and what is left of their democracy.  It is very odd, and beyond my ken, that so many tiny men are sinning against their fellow Americans to serve wealthy masters bent on destroying the American dream of democracy.  I search the faces of the tiny men and sometimes I see that some of them are frightened by what they are doing, but they persist.  Have they been driven mad by the absence of truth in America?

America needs--and the tiny men need--a jolt of public truth now.  W. should confess his civic sins.  He should do it in a widely televised speech at least an hour and a half long, and it should be a detailed exposition of the truth of his sins and failures, yet a profound exposition.  It should be both extensive and intensive.  If he does it right, it will change him permanently for the better, at least clear his conscience, although I am not sure that his conscience is troubled.  I suspect though that, subconsciously anyway, his conscience is not clear.  I have seen some of W.'s portraits of American veterans wounded in the war in Iraq, and some seemed to carry a similar expression: of pain, depression, and guilt.  The pain and depression would be theirs.  The guilt is W.'s.  Maybe that's why he took up painting, and why he has painted portraits of some of those he wounded.

W.'s confession wouldn't be enough in itself to begin to turn back the dark tide, but it would feel like a miracle, in the context of where we are now, for this ex-president to prove that he values the truth enough and loves his country enough to willingly suffer such pain on their behalf.

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+1 # chapdrum 2017-11-30 12:21
He's working on it now, and it should be ready in time for Christmas.
 
 
0 # WatTyler 2017-11-30 23:31
I'll set out the milk and cookies
 

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