One point for Bush

It was in a science-fiction classic of yesteryear, Robert Heinlein’s influential epic Stranger in a Strange Land, where the concept of the Fair Witness was introduced. In the America of the future, into which the charismatic hero of the book, Michael Valentine Smith, floats, there exists a group of arbiters known as the Fair Witnesses. These are people who have been so thoroughly trained in the concepts of objectivity and impartiality that they’ve replaced the need for juries in our legal system. Both sides of a dispute simply present their cases to the Fair Witness, who then renders a decision that is perfect, indisputable and unappealable. The Fair Witness speaketh, and the case is closeth.

The concept has stayed with me, bubbling up on occasion in my life as a broadcaster and columnist. I thought about the Fair Witness last week after watching our president’s State of the Union speech and wondered if I was going to adhere to the high ideals of Heinlein’s lofty creation, if it was time for me to … uh … gulp … er … well … say something nice about Mr. Bush.

Look, I like dumping on Dub as much as the next greenoid, leftist, quasi-Rastafarian scribe. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, I think I took some nice shots at our beerless leader just last week in this very space.

I’m certainly not about to take back any of those zippy little zingers; in fact, I got a decent chortle out of a couple of ’em when I read the paper this week, which is always a good sign.

But between the semi-ominous Bush inaugural address and the semi-slaphappy Bush SOTU address, there was, of course, the election in Iraq. To be fair, that appears to have gone off quite well. To be fair, there was something inspiring about the fact that so many Iraqis turned out to vote, even when there was the real possibility that by doing so, one might get one’s head blown off. To be fair, it was truly a moving moment during the SOTU speech when the mom of the Marine who was killed in Fallujah bent down and hugged the Iraqi woman who had just voted for the first time.

So yeah, I’m still peeved about the fact that Bushco sold this war to us almost entirely on the basis of what turned out to be a sack of old dog turds called “weapons of mass destruction,” and yeah, I still think the guy is guilty of foisting the lamest first-grade-level political analysis upon us when he talks about how “they hate us because we’re free.” (Goddammit George, that’s not it, and you know it!) But, to be fair, I now have to admit that it is possible that, out of all the scenarios that just might take place in Iraq in the next few years, there is indeed the chance that Iraq will become the next Turkey, no pun intended (I think).

And should that come to pass, Mr. Bush will then fully know what all leaders, from Caesar to Chavez, have always known, and it doesn’t matter if you’re capitalist, communist, socialist, fascist or Gandhist—the end justifies the means. Period.