It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Bangor Broadside
February 2003
When George W. Bush first took office, the pundits and political cartoonists were delighted with the possibility of a wealth of new material. Big ear comparisons were made between our appointed president and Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine. Molly Ivins propped her feet up on her desk, contemplating another great book.

It's a mere two years later, and nobody is laughing anymore. The analogies are now between Bush and Adolf Hitler, and the world gone mad. Even Molly has gotten a bit testy.

In his recent State of the Union speech, Bush tried to link Saddam Hussein with Hitler. (Curiously, he used the term "Hitlerism," not "Nazism.") But it is not Saddam that the European nations are worried about. It is George Bush.

It is not Saddam, tightly confined for more than a decade to a limited territory within his own country, who is daily, vocally and openly threatening to invade another sovereign country, as Hitler did Poland. It is George Bush.

Contrary to what Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice think of the European reluctance to support an Iraqi war, those European leaders indeed have learned the lessons of World War II. And those lessons are prompting them to resist the unprovoked aggression of the United States of America.

Bush has repeatedly charged that Saddam Hussein has a stockpile of "weapons of mass destruction," and that, if cornered, he will not hesitate to use them. Bush then announces that we will be sending our troops into Iraq specifically to corner Saddam.

If I were on that front line, my prayers would be that those gas masks work. (The soldiers overwhelming the sperm banks immediately before deployment are a good indication of how much the front line personnel trust that equipment.)

I believe that Secretary of State Colin Powell is the only one in the Bush administration who understands international diplomacy. But he is in a terrible position. He can see the stupidity, but if he bolts in protest, his replacement would be infinitely worse. So he does what he can to hold it all together.

His stunning performance before the United Nations Security Council, where he presented bogus, vague, and/or conjectured information about the status of the Iraqi weapons program, reminded me of a defense attorney at a trial I covered as a reporter in Hancock County many years ago.

In that court case, the defendant was being sentenced after being found guilty of killing his five-month-old son by throwing him forcefully against the bedroom wall. His lawyer stood up in court and argued that since rehabilitation is a major part of the justice system, his client should not be sent to prison, because there were no children in prison for him to practice his emotional restraint on.

The judge of course rejected that argument out of hand as being ridiculous, but the defendant seemed pleased that his lawyer had given it his all.

Powell's United Nations presentation, to my mind, was like that of that lawyer. It was not meant to be believed by the world body. He only meant it to be good enough so that his boss, George Bush, will think that he had done a good job.

(Powell, in an earlier appearance before that body, cautioned it about becoming "impotent." How clearer could the message be - all this war talk is about Bush needing to prove his manhood.)

What saddens me is how quickly, in the United States of America, all logic has been turned on its head. Osama bin Laden is the enemy, but since we can't find him, we target Saddam Hussein, even though they hate each other. We must invade a non-nuclear country that has not threatened to attack us (Iraq), but we refuse to even talk with an openly belligerent nuclear power that has threatened military action (North Korea). Saddam, the leader of a sovereign nation, will not do exactly as we say - so let's kill him.

The economy and the stock market are tanking over war fears. The federal budget deficit is growing so fast it's hard to keep track, yet Bush calls for even more tax cuts. Jobs are being lost right and left to corporate corruption and mismanagement. The whole country is falling apart.

Meanwhile, George Bush is obsessed with Saddam Hussein.

A friend of mine is a substance abuse counselor. She sees in Bush's irrational behavior all the signs of an addicted personality.

Small comfort, although it does explain a lot of things that are going on.