Ambivalent, shocked, awed, bamboozled

Last March, it was obvious that nothing was going to stop the powerful, lumbering inertia toward war, and I remember feeling oddly ambivalent about it all. Yes, there were suspicions about the darker motives of the neo-cons, that powerful new D.C. cabal that appeared to have found its champion in Mr. Bush. But there was also, as a result of a relentless sales job made by the entire board of directors of Bushco, a nagging doubt that perhaps Saddam really was a menace, that he was harboring dangerous amounts of anthrax, toxins, nerve gases, etc., and, who could say for sure, maybe even close to packing the ultimate freak factor, the nukes.

So there we were, millions of us, sitting on a fence constructed of confusion and uncertainty, uncomfortable as hell with the prospect of invasion, but also plagued with fears about the problems Saddam and Company could conceivably pose. Frozen by doubt into passivity, we gave our president the tacit endorsement he was seeking. But what Dub may have overlooked back then was that there was a corollary attached to our reluctant endorsement for war, a corollary that was unspoken but there all the same. Its message was simple: “OK, George. Go ahead. Go ahead with this war you’re so determined to start. But understand something here, pal. You had damned well better be right about this. Especially the WMDs.”

Nearly a year later, the WMD scoreboard was sputtering along with a big fat zero, straining desperately to avoid an embarrassing shutout. Then, arms inspector David Kay mercifully reached over and pulled its plug.

OK, it’s one thing for the president to bamboozle and hammerlock Congress to get the permission and the money he needs to launch an aggressive, unprecedented, even foolhardy preemptive war if he so desires. It’s another thing to expect we the bamboozled to reelect his lunkheaded ass. Look, I’m sorry, Mr. President, sir, but if you make the call to go to war, and your number one super mega reason for going to war turns out to be at best a colossal gamble and at worst a sinister con job, well Dub ole buddy, ole pal, that’s a problem. Kind of a big problem, actually.

Fourteen months later, those of us who were ambivalent about the war can more accurately judge the quality of Mr. Bush’s call to invade. Right now, we’re confident in saying that it’s not looking like a particularly inspired stroke of genius. The WMD reason turned out to be crap, our troops are currently knee deep in some very foul sludge, Muslims around the world now think we’re just as brutal as Saddam ever was, Muhammad Q. Sixpack appears to be nothing if not extremely anxious for us to just get the hell out of his country, and we’re very hopeful that an Iraqi government can be rustled up to take over the country on June 30. Other than that, things seem to be positively peachy.