Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Excellent Editorial By Novelist Indicting Bush

This is a piece written by novelist E.L. Doctorow. It first appeared in the September 9th issue of the East Hampton Star/Long Island, New York. Link to Source:


The Unfeeling President
by E.L. Doctorow
I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the
death of our twenty-one year olds who wanted to be what they could be.

On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eiscenhowerprayed to God for the
lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was.
Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of
survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this
president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him
joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to
find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the
roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving,triumphal, a he-man. He
does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied
during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and
speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their
country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an
emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no
capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand
dead young men and women who wanted be what they could be. They come to his desk
not as youngsters with mothers and fatheror wives and children who will suffer
to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and
the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life.... they come to his desk as a
political liability which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the
arrival of their coffins from Iraq. How then can he mourn? To mourn is to
express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for
going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret
that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his
mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling
terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and
crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to
war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen
to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war
when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because
you want to but because you have to.

Yet this president knew it would be
difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He
knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for
only one thing --- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for
the sake of themselves and their friends. A war will do that as well as
anything. You become a war time leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent
becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite,
he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children.
He is the President who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the
dead, he does not feel for the thirty five million of us who live in poverty, he
does not feel for the forty percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does
not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people
he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their
bills --- it is amazing for how many people in this country this President does
not feel. But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is
relieving the wealthiest one percent of the population of their tax burden for
the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the
sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the safety regulations for coal
mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their
time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor
them by raising them into the professional class. And this litany of lies he
will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what
he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.

But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember
the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It
was extraordinary, that spontaneous aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that
transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the
only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over the world
most of the time. But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of
millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of
mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was
morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was
turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not
to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind
of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct,
who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive
war.

The president we get is the country we get. With each president the
nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national
soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our
lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image.
The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.
Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He
becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain
ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective
warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal
economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral
vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

E. L. Doctorow is an American novelist. His works are noted for their
mingling of American history and literary imagination through the interaction of
fictional and real-life characters


Another excellent mid-day perusal: "If America Were Iraq, What Would It Be Like?

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Hey Julia,

Have you checked out this article?

http://www.ivillage.com/topics/pregbaby/0,,166245,00.html

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