Monday, July 7, 2008

Dancing with the "T" Word: Treason?

Enough of This Polite Confusion
None Dare Call It Treason? 37

Although this may be borrowing the title of an old book, we can translate its rather provocative question right into the present. As we measure our leaders we see them in essentially three dimensions.

The first is probably whether or not we agree with them. This matter spreads out to all sorts of things: economics, foreign policy, social ideals, justice and personal philosophy. No matter how contentious the issue might be, we can approach it with the confidence that we will survive, pretty much in the state we are accustomed to, even if we strongly disagree with the choice finally made. After these disagreeable matters are put into place through the action of our democratic system, we calm down, somehow comforted by the possibility that the next time will be our chance to prevail.

Issues of disagreement can be dramatized as “treason” while we rant and rave, but there is not really any actual treason at play.

The second dimension has to do with mistakes. Our national leadership can make military mistakes, foreign policy mistakes, domestic economic mistakes and all sorts of other mistakes. It would be comforting to categorize these mistakes as being “innocent” or “unavoidable” in one sense, or “suspicious” or “self-serving” in the other sense. In any event, although errors in judgment, the “conspiracy” side rarely materializes. We survive these in much the same manner as we survive the disagreeable variety. Quite comfortably.

Again, as citizens we are, of course, directly responsible for these mistakes, their consequences, usually to others, and their historical ramifications. Similar to the “disagreeable variety” we can correct them. We get out our voter id’s and go to town at the next election.

However, the third dimension of measure brings us quickly to the grave realm quite beyond either “disagreeable” or “incompetent.” The third measure falls to the threatening prospect of treason. It stands out beyond our considerations of “disagreeable” or “incompetent” because it offers the possibility of our not surviving it.

The conclusion of “treason” is not quite as murky as a conclusion of “disagreeability” or “incompetence.” Those lesser complaints rely rather heavily on opinion. Those easier ones are based, often, on the information we have made the effort to accumulate about a certain thing or other. In many cases, there will be contradictory information supporting an alternate opinion. Then we get to argue with each other. This, of course, is the American way. The end result of this is that we wind up hearing about the facts supporting the opinion of the other side, probably not changing our original position much, but at least, understanding the other side a little better.

However, returning to the matter of “treason,” we immediately must also address “trust.” After all, enough “trust” in the character and motivation of one of our leaders can serve to move what might have otherwise been “treason” to a more palatable place nearer what could be called, for instance, “incompetence.” We find it rather difficult to construct the indictment of “treason” even to situations presented with misdirection, deception, outright lies, confusing motives, intentional complexity and the like. With all those “buffers” in place, the fabric of inescapable “pure, true treason” can become elusive.

After all, he didn’t just hand Los Angeles over to the Chinese Army or something.

As tax payers, we have provided the President with some pretty potent tools to use for our protection and for the protection of the country as he steers us through risky situations and other challenges, not the least of these is the most expensive military the planet has ever seen. We elected him because we thought he would be much better at such tasks than we would be if we were President. We also made a statement in that election. We declared that we “trusted” him, his motivation, his ability and even his intuition. We also expected that he was going to “trust us” as far as possible as he did his job.

This President spoke, apparently convincingly, about “Political Capital.” That term describes something either the same as “trust” or, at least, very involved with “trust.” These comments about “Political Capital” may have been some of the most forthright comments this President has ever made.

You know, “honest.” Oh, yeah, anyway. Well, you know.

We can gauge our “trust” a bit by looking at who our “leader” has “trusted.” That would be “Brownie” of FEMA-Katrina fame, Putin, the man whose soul he saw, or something, the Iraqis, the ones he “trusted” would simply leap into democracy, the “Generals” who managed to create a five and half year long meat grinder, Mr. Wolfowitz, a neo-con genius, Mr. Bremmer, a neo-con genius, Mr. Rove. a neo-con and alleged "human" of unknown origin, Mr. Rumsfeld, a neo-con military genius, Mr. DeLay, a political neo-con genius exterminator (yeah, bugs), Mr. Abramhoff, who he quit “trusting” when it became difficult, Mr. Cheney, you know, “shooter,” and others. He even “trusted” the famous Jeff Gannon of enough to give him Helen Thomas’s seat at press conferences.

We can take a look at the stuff that makes our country strong. He has pretty much wrecked the Army while losing a battle with a trailer park east of Cairo. He has tanked the economy which is the basis for the wealth we need to defend ourselves. He has managed to drive off most of our friends, those would be the ones who couldn’t be bribed or threatened. Sometimes friends are helpful in matters of national security.

He has always been tormented by his fear about decisions he makes to “trustanyone. He clearly believes that “enough authority” means one doesn’t have to “trustanyone. Where does “incompetence” make the last journey to outright “treason?”

Perhaps the suspicious transfer of billions of tax dollars to his friends via tax breaks can resist the new definition, thereby remaining no more than “incompetence.” Perhaps a national debt, not counting the “emergency funding billions” for Iraq and Afghanistan, rising to an astounding nine trillion dollars with nothing to show for the purchase can still be simple “incompetence.” Maybe his “line blocking” Republican cronies in the Congress obstructing a record seventy-eight House bills with their filibuster threats, extracting his war profiteering funds by the hundreds of billions every time he asked, protecting his impeachment investigation from proceeding are really just in the “disagreeablecategory.

So, no “treason’” right?

Not exactly. Our nation is apparently able to survive all this damage. We recall that “treason” didn’t really cross the line until it threatened our national security. Has that happened, too?

Yes. It has.

The most valuable “trust” of all is our confidence that this man will step up to lead us through really dangerous matters should they arise. We have no choice but to count on him for such matters. Even if we “disagree.” Even if we think he is “incompetent.” He remains the only “horse” we’ve got, and that means he is the one we have to count on, his judgment may be faulty, his ability may suggest “incompetence,” but he remains the one with the keys to set our defense in motion should the need arise.

Our problem is that we can no longer trust him. Sure, he remains an incredibly powerful man thanks to the assets we have given him, but we can no longer “trust” him when he tells us that we are facing danger or that we must go to war. We have learned the painful lesson that his words will always be self-serving and deceptive. We, frankly, have no reliable means to determine for ourselves the gravity of situations which might face us. We are “flying blind.”

That frightening situation is beyond “disagreeable,” beyond “incompetent.” Through his own strategy he has emasculated the political leadership we have created to protect our democracy and our nation. His careful, premeditated, intentional creation of that state of affairs is treason.

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