Thursday, December 28, 2006

Of partisanship and the scared Republican

Reading the report by Bob Woodward detailing the conviction by Gerald Ford that the war in Iraq was a mistake, I recalled all the other times we have had important Republicans make such pronouncements, BUT only after it was too late for their stand on the issue to have a positive impact.

I am particularly troubled by the tardiness of former Secretary of State Colin Powell to the discourse on this issue. It was widely known at the time that Powell was against the war, but somehow this administration was able to use his voice before the security council of the U.N. to lay out a falsified case for the invasion of Iraq. Powells secretary Col. Lawrence Wilkerson claims that this speech is the "lowest point" of his life.

Yet despite the open secret that Powell opposed the war, and knowing his doctrine in the conduct of war once war is inevitable, it was not until after the 2004 election that he resigned his office. It was over a year after his resignation, and well after Wilkerson launched his truth to power campaign that Powell found the ability to publicly question the administrations policies.

Colin Powell, is symptomatic of a code of silence out of loyalty to the party, that has allowed policies from this President that are obviously damaging to our nation to be carried out without question. The Republican rubberstamp Congress is another party to this travesty. The Congress is constitutionally charged with oversight of the executive branch, regardless of the political affiliations of the parties in power. Never did an executive need oversight as does President Bush, but he was allowed to carry on as he saw fit while Congressional leadership buried their collective head in the sand. Now the newest member to join the long line of Republicans who did not stand up until it was too late is the recently passed Gerald Ford.

Please don't misread me on this. I'm not here to slam Ford around. This is my take on the entire phenomena in question, not on the failings of one man in particular. Indeed I believe that many Democrats are also responsible for not standing up to Bush, even when it was not popular to do so. However, having Democratic sniping of Bush is rather to be expected, and for that reason when it happens it can be disqualified to a certain extent as partisan in nature. Having Republicans take a turn at debunking obviously failed policy is what the country needed, and precisely what we did not get until it was too late. And now it is too late. As the President says, "we are where we are", and it is the partisanship of Republicans who knew where we were going but did not speak out that has helped to lead us there.

I understand there is precedent for ex Presidents to not come across too harshly on the actions of the sitting President. However there has to come a point where a person, simply as an American citizen says to themselves that precedent must be damned. The drive to a destructive policy, dooming this nation to untold calamity with the loss of blood and treasure is too great an event to allow to pass in silence. If Ford and Powell saw this truth they did themselves and this nation positively no favors by staying silent.

Frankly I am convinced another factor that went into the wall of silence on the drive to war in Iraq was fear of the administration if a Republican were to cross them. The example provided to the world by Valerie Plame would tend to bear witness to that fear. Still one must draw the balance here... is it ok to sit silently while the President leads the nation to disaster because of personal discomfort at speaking the truth. Where is the sense of duty and patriotism to this nation?

I think history will be the harsher judge to Powell, but the after the fact Woodward revelation is not a positive in my eyes for Gerald Ford. One must wonder how many more Republicans are going to come forward in the future to detail their opposition to a failed Bush policy, before it was enacted, and which they did not protest while they could have had an effect on the matter in question.

tough call. my initial reaction was anger that Ford hadn't spoken out but then, he was 91 and I think he understood how vilely he would have been treat by the Bushies, and how he would be called senile, bitter, and oh yeah, 'the only American president to ever lose a war'.

I'll give him a pass on this.
I can see the point of Ford not wanting to be reviled in his dotage. And I have no doubt that in fact he would have been treated harshly. Maybe it is for this reason that I reserve most of my scorn in this post for Powell.

To be sure I'm not willing to give Ford a pass, but I'm not entirely unsympathetic to his concerns. I suppose the dissapointing part of this is having yet another Republican who saw the error as it progressed, but only spoke out after it was too late. I can understand giving him a pass here, but I'm also a bit tired of the after the fact hindsight by people who could have made a difference but chose, often out of justified fear, to remain silent.
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