Let us now praise Ray McGovern:

RUMSFELD: My words — my words were that — no, no, wait a minute, wait a minute. Let him stay one second. Just a second.

QUESTION: This is America.

RUMSFELD: You’re getting plenty of play, sir.

QUESTION: I’d just like an honest answer.

RUMSFELD: I’m giving it to you.

QUESTION: Well we’re talking about lies and your allegation there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.

If Edith Wharton was alive today, she’d be having a field day with the Bush crew and their editorial and pundit enablers, swear on a stack of Bibles.

People canted during this past election about “respect for the office” of the presidency, about how it was unseemly to call the president a prick and a chimp and a liar and a scumbag, to tell him to fuck off in cyberspace, but they forgot that respect works in both directions, that if we have no respect for this president, it is because he has no respect for us, for Americans, for American society and government. He and his administration have so violated whatever social norms may exist as to render themselves outside our society entirely. I hear this over and over, I read the same comment on outrage after outrage: this is not America. No, it isn’t. Torture, needless war, secrecy, disregard for the law, this isn’t America. Fear of one another, fear of ourselves, hatred of other nations, hatred of our own, this isn’t America.

Ray McGovern treated Donald Rumsfeld precisely as the Secretary should be treated: as one who has overstepped the bounds of that automatic granting of respect. Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, these men should be challenged in public each time they step outside. They should be asked questions like Ray McGovern’s, by everyone they see. Sometimes I think we keep waiting for somebody, the One True Opponent, to do it to them, ignoring the fact that it’s a collective responsibility, that we as a society are responsible to one another, and it is our responsibility to tell these people they have betrayed our interests, and should be held to account, by the very same societal rules they find it so easy to disregard.