I haven’t said much about the Downing Street Documents so far. It’s getting plenty of coverage in other blogs (and since its not a postitive for the Chimp ‘n Chief not much coverage in the main stream media). However, I thought it was time to take a crack at the topic.
To listen to the blather storm of media and right wing spin about the Downing Street Memos, the uproar is merely the dying "told-you-so" bleatings of crazed antiwar protesters.
When White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked about the hearings Congressman John Conyers was holding on the British documents, he could barely acknowledge Conyers’ existence: "I think that this is an individual who voted against the war in the first place and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed. And our focus is not on the past. It’s on the future and working to make sure we succeed in Iraq."
Meanwhile, your liberal media jumped on the crazy train and sought to discredit Conyers’ unofficial hearings, forced to be held in a tiny room by contemptuous House Republicans. Dana Milbank openly mocked the effort in the bleeding heart Washington Post. With bitchiness that would be more appropriate to Mr. Blackwell, Milbank called the minority party’s event a "dress-up game" featuring "Conyers and his hearty band of playmates." And, oh-ho, what fun they were having, playmates like Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in action in Iraq. Such a par-tay it was for her, describing how Casey Austin Sheehan was gunned down in an ambush in Sadr City. And what a blast it must have been for her to tell tales of other dead soldiers, including Marine Jeffrey Lucey, who hanged himself after coming home from Iraq. Sheehan quoted a letter from Lucey’s father and said, "The Jeff that the Luceys saw march off to a reckless war was not the one who limped home. The Jeff his family knew died in Iraq, murdered by the inhumanity of gratutitous war." Wheee, get out the champagne and confetti, let the balloons drop, party people, ’cause Dana Milbank says that "Conyers was having so much fun."
Except of course, he wasn’t. Conyers pimp slapped Milbank in a letter to the Post, saying that the reporter was engaged in "a deliberate effort to discredit the entire hearing."
And meanwhile the true conspiracy nuts are over on the right wing blogs, as they desperately try to discredit the memos by "proving" they’re forgeries. After huffing and puffing about how the documents were re-typed and therefore they gotta (oh please let them) be fake, one nutzoid blogger finally throws in the towel to declare, with his bottom lip stuck out, "Even if these memos could be authenticated, they’re still meaningless. They could only excite the kind of idiots that would hold mock impeachment hearings with four witnesses and no authority whatsoever."
Here’s the deal: let’s change the context. The Downing Street documents are about a conspiracy of lies and deception. One doesn’t have to be "antiwar" to believe that the President of the United States shouldn’t openly lie to the Congress and to the people about matters of State. War just happens to be the subject, yes, but it just as well could have been energy policy or campaign donations – those just lack the glamour of dead and mutilated American bodies. See, in this new context, we don’t even have to talk about whether or not it was "right" to take out Saddam Hussein and "liberate" Iraq. All we have to talk about is the lying.
And about this being "the past," in that "oh-well-we-all-knew-Bush-was-lying-anyway" attitude being taken by so many on the left and middle, well, since when is there a statute of limitations on high crimes and misdemeanors? Always use the Bill Clinton bar, one that’s so low that even slugs could not limbo under it: was Whitewater "the past"? Well, ah yeah, since it happened years before Clinton was even in the Oval Office, in 1978. Did that stop the investigations? Well, fuck no, and the years-long and multimillion dollar investigation didn’t prove a damn thing, other than Republicans were petty, mean, vicious fuckers who would stoop to anything to avenge the loss of the presidency.
The way to win converts to the cause of investigating the President – "what did he know and when did he know it" kind of shit – is to put it in the abstract, more universal sense first: "The President lied to your face." Then get more specific: "The President lied to your face about why we went to war." Then allow the horror to seep in: "The President lied to your face about why we went to war and now we’re on the fast track to our second-thousandth dead and our twenty-thousandth injured."
And you know what? He’s gonna keep lyin’ and keep lyin’ until he’s walked out of the White House.