The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

What’s Bush giving up?

 Whats Bush giving up?
What’s Bush giving up?

What’s Bush giving up?

“Lent began yesterday,” wrote conservative columnist, former Reagan speechwriter and self-declared “lady” Peggy Noonan in her March 2 Wall Street Journal column. “[A]nd I mean to give up a great deal, as you would too if you were me. One of the things I mean to give up is the habit of thinking it and not saying it. A lady has some rights, and this happens to be one I can assert.”

I, too, gave something up: candy and dessert. What I have not given up – and never will – is my right to say what is on my mind. From what I know about Noonan – having read more than a fair share of her noxious columns – I find it hard to believe that she has ever not spoken her mind. After all, that’s what she gets paid to do.

What precipitated Noonan’s call-to-arms was an unpleasant encounter with airport security, which she termed “the ritual abuse of passengers.” Heaven forbid Ms. Noonan being inconvenienced to stop a hijacker from comandeering another plane and flying it into a building.

Summarizing her experience, she wrote, “Now I know how a cow feels in a cattle pen.”

Really? I wonder if she knows how it feels for Iraqi women to be beaten for not wearing their head-covering, a custom that was all but non-existent under the secular leadership of Saddam Hussein. A custom that women are being forced to resurrect by the theocracy that is quickly taking control of an increasingly fractured Iraq.

But, enough about Peggy Noonan. I’ll leave her to write about things that matter to the klatch of Americans whose greatest concern is bemoaning the erosion of gentility. Forget about the erosion of civil liberties.

Back to Saddam Hussein. Yes, I know, Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. President Bush reminds us of that fact every time he steps in front of a microphone. If Republican presidents know about anything, it’s brutal dictators.

Besides Saddam Hussein, Republican presidents have propped up dozens of similarly brutal and totalitarian dictators around the world. Saddam Hussein just had the misfortune – or the miscalculation – of going off the script that the American government had written for him.

You don’t have to believe me. Google “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein,” and you’ll find a Web site that shows Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy to Iraq for President Reagan, shaking hands with the man that he would characterize 20 years later as “one of the world’s most dangerous dictators.”

Just in case you plan to accuse me of being pro-Saddam Hussein and anti-American, spare me the Republican talking points. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, but Americans must recognize – at least those interested in the truth – that American foreign policy aided and abetted him in becoming a brutal dictator.

Just like we supported dictatorships throughout Central and South America over a period of four decades. Just like we support a totalitarian, absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia. Just like we support a collection of totalitarian, absolute quasi-monarchies in the United Arab Emirates, whom our own State Department – as recently as this week – criticized for human rights abuses.

If you take anything away from this article, let it be that the ugly realities of a world filled with conflicting worldviews, motivated by conflicting interests, conflicting religions and conflicting power struggles, necessitates that governments make alliances – often tenable and reprehensible – with brutal governments, represented by brutal men, in order to achieve a mutual goal, usually motivated by money.

In short, a foreign policy based on practical concerns – political expediency – rather than ideals or ethics: Realpolitik.

But, back to Lent. Peggy Noonan is giving up biting her tongue. I’m giving up candy and dessert. I wonder what President Bush is giving up.

Now that Dubai has withdrawn its plan to manage 21 – not six like previously reported – American ports, Bush can say that he gave up vetoing legislation making the deal illegal.

We know he hasn’t given up alcohol. He supposedly did that 20 years ago – around the time he became a “born-again” Christian. Apparently being an Episcopalian wasn’t Christian enough for him. Maybe it was the wine served during Episcopal communion that led him to drink. (Most evangelical churches use non-fermented grape juice.)

We know he didn’t give up trying to convince New Orleanians that he’s not responsible for the failure of the government to respond – before Katrina or since – to the devastation and destruction that continues to plague New Orleans. He disavowed himself of that responsibility again this week.

We know he hasn’t given up lying about his association with Jack Abramoff. To hear Bush tell it, he wouldn’t recognize Abramoff if he walked up and slapped him on the back. In the upcoming edition of Vanity Fair magazine, Jack Abramoff tells another story. Apparently, the man who has a nickname for everyone close to him used to call Abramoff “buff guy.” Can’t you just hear him saying it? I can.

Finally, he hasn’t given up eroding Americans’ civil liberties either, having signed on Thursday an extension of the Patriot Act, minus safeguards Democrats attempted to put in place to guarantee that the United States stopped inching closer toward a totalitarian state.

I guess it would be too much to hope that he might give up the presidency – or even withdraw our troops from a country on the verge of civil war, one that, just this week, Lt. Gen. William Odom (Ret.), a former director of the National Security Agency and member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, said was inching closer to becoming another Vietnam.

Just what have you given up, Mr. President?


George Henson is a Spanish lecturer. He may be reached at [email protected].

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