Small Men

I went looking for this today, after explaining to a non-pol friend precisely why Karl Rove was as loathed and despised as he is. Link:

And after Mr. McCain’s 2000 campaign, Mr. Weaver’s allies say, Mr. Rove ran him out of the party.

Mr. McCain said Mr. Weaver was “blackballed by the White House and the Republican establishment,” and McCain aides told The Observer that after Mr. Bush took the White House, his staff told members of Congress not to hire Mr. Weaver.

“Rove made it clear that if you want help from this President in your campaign, you’ll be careful about what consultant you hire—meaning not John Weaver,” said Mr. McCain’s chief of staff, Mark Salter.

I was a follower of McCain’s 2000 primary run, and I fell hard for him and his whole team (and yes, I know, Republican, I know, I’m over it mostly). What happened to them in South Carolina was brutal, it was unconscionable, and it was a blueprint for how Bush’s administration planned to run the country: with a vicious intolerance for disagreement, and skill at only one thing: self-preservation.

And knowing that Weaver has now supposedly reconciled with the White House, that McCain has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Dick, does nothing to change that. What happened happened. They can get over it, that’s their right. They’ll pardon me if I’m not so forgiving.

I say to everybody who claims to be shocked at this turn of events, at the state of politics today, knowing what these guys were like before, what exactly did you expect?

Joe Wilson got pissed off, tied a noose around his neck and showed up at a press conference to tell Saddam Hussein that if Hussein wanted to hang him, Wilson’d bring his own fucking rope. Valerie Plame got death threats from Al Qaeda, per Larry Johnson on CNN today, and went back to work the next day. These weren’t people who didn’t understand the importance of what they were doing.

But to Bush and his administration, everything was a cheap political shot. It’s been said of Republicans that they know how to run a campaign but have no idea how to run a country; there’s nowhere that’s clearer than it is in this case. They only have one speed: Week Before Election Day, when everything’s about getting the smear out as fast as you can to taint the public’s impression of your opponents. And man, does it ever work for them on the trail, except here’s the problem. That’s the only place it works.

In order to get the job done, to fight terrorism and actually do it well, they were going to have deal with people who disagreed with them. They were going to have to deal with people they didn’t like, and with people they didn’t want to have around, because those people were good at their jobs. They could have tolerated a little dissent from some unexciting bureaucrats who got the job done, and yeah, there would have been a couple of days of kerfluffle and then it would have been over. Instead they went nuclear on everybody who spoke out against them, on Paul O’Neill, on Richard Clarke, on John Weaver, on anybody who so much as raised his or her voice, and the list goes on.

It’s not mark of strength, it never is, to barrel down on somebody smaller than you. If you’re really the leader of the free world, if you’re really the strongest and biggest badass the land has ever known, you aren’t threatened by anybody. Least of all another American speaking his or her mind.

But they never were our leaders. They told us to be afraid, and they turned us on each other, and they gave away our money to their friends and killed our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. They sniped and they snarled, but they never did lead us. They never brought us an inch above ourselves, or a milimeter closer together.

For all their blithering about restoring honor and dignity, for all the lofty words that come from their speechwriters’ offices, they are small men, and their vision only extends to power, not poetry. They don’t understand what service to your country means; look at their service records. They don’t understand what respect that should entail; look what they did to Max Cleland, to John Kerry. They don’t understand anything except how to step hardest on somebody’s fingers on their way up the stairs.

They got to the top, and had no idea where they were, or why. And the mountain’s crashing down on them now, so I say again, what exactly did you think was going to happen?

A.

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