"Al Gore: Bad news: Got more votes, lost election. Worse news: U.S. glad he did."
The preceding quote appeared in the December 31, 2001 Newsweek, illustrating what that magazine’s editors felt was the "Conventional Wisdom" in the country at that time. Considering George W. Bush’s post-9/11 ninety-percent approval rating, maybe this comment did reflect the temper of the times - an unquestioning embrace of the fallacy that Bush was somehow better suited to run this country during a period of war. After all, didn’t he have tough, seasoned pros like Colin Powell, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld sitting at his strategy table?
Four long years have passed, and it’s a laughable notion that President Al Gore could possibly have done worse by this nation - and its military - than Bush & Co.
Four years later, and Osama bin Laden is still sending threatening messages: "It’s only a matter of time…[Attacks] are in the planning stages, and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete." He even offers a nonspecific truce, but acknowledges it would "prevent hundreds of billions [of dollars] from going to influential people and warlords in America – those who supported Bush’s electoral campaign. And from this we can understand Bush and his gang’s insistence on continuing the war." While it’s hard to imagine a "truce" with al-Queda, it nonetheless seems that the workings of George W. Bush’s War Machine are better understood by Osama bin Laden than by most Americans.
Four years later, and America is bogged down - and apparently losing - its ground war in Iraq. From the Associated (1/25/06): "Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a ‘thin green line’ that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon…[The report] concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency." (Emphasis added.) General George Casey, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, conceded that "The forces are stretched…I don’t think there’s any question about that." However, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told us last month that "The Army is probably as strong and capable as it ever has been in the history of the country. They are more experienced, more capable, better equipped than ever before." Apparently reading from the same script, Army Secretary Francis Harvey said last week: "Today’s Army is the most capable, best-trained, best-equipped and most experienced force our nation has fielded in well over a decade." (It’s like the mantra of the brainwashed from The Manchurian Candidate.)
We can at least give Mr. Harvey credit for muting Mr. Rumsfeld’s hyperbole – ratcheting down the time frame from 230 years to a more modest 10 years or so. But for many grieving military families, that repeated phrase "best-equipped" must sound tragically hollow. As noted in the January 22 New York Times: "When the Iraq war began in early 2003, analysts say, the American military hadn’t stocked up on body armor because the White House did not intend to send a large occupational force. The White House game plan called for lightning strikes…that would snare a quick victory…But as the breadth and duration of the Iraqi occupation grew, the war became a series of perilous, unpredictable street fights in Baghdad and other cities…The quality and adequacy of vests supplied to soldiers in Iraq has come into question over the last year, culminating in a Pentagon study…that said that 80 percent of the Marines who died in Iraq from upper-body wounds might have survived if they had body armor covering more of their torsos."
It’s not just in military matters, of course. Four years later, and everything Bush has touched has been an epic disaster. From Iraq to New Orleans, from the Medicare drug program to the federal budget, from the environment to public education, from the Geneva Conventions to the Bill of Rights, in all things foreign and domestic, George W. Bush has left this country - and the world - in far worse shape than when the U.S. Supreme Court appointed him president.
As Newsweek noted four years ago, Al Gore got more votes and lost the election.
Are we still "glad he did?"