Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wouldn't You Cry, Too?

You're the President of the United States.

Your country is locked into a war that no-one, really, anymore, believes you can win.

You have met, privately, with the family members of at least one third of the men and women who have died in the war you insisted, for reasons that don't even make sense anymore, had to be fought.

You were surrounded by people who told you it would be "a cake walk", that "Americans would be greeted with flowers and sweets" and that the country you invaded was crying out for all that was good and true and right about America.

You look around today, and most of the people who were there with you, in the dark hours after 9/11, who said, "Yes, Mr President, we must do Iraq", you look around, and most of them aren't there anymore. There's Condi. God bless Condi, but she too was caught up in the filth that flowed in those darkest days. One day, people will read of how she held you in the darkest hours of the darkest days, held you as only a true friend can. You cried then, but you cry more now.

You know it was always a lie, that real men didn't cry. It was illusion. And it made it harder for you to cope when the tears started to come. Because it wasn't supposed to be that way. This was not what men did. At least, that's what you were always taught.

You wished you had been stronger, that you didn't listen to all those voices, all those people, all those front pages stories saying that what you were going to do was the right thing to do. That it was necessary. To do Iraq. To get rid of Saddam.

You did it for your own reasons, too, of course. You did it to become the legend. To make the dream of a world ruled by freedom and democracy a reality. How were you to know that it could never be? That it was all a fantasy? These were supposed to be the best minds in America. The brightest of all the shining stars. But they didn't know anything more than you in the end.

And you did it to show them all. All those who said you were a loser. From the days when your dynasty of privilege and opportunity offered you the world, but locked you out of it as well.

And you did it, in the end, to avenge your father. Or did you do it to show the old man?

To say to him, "Look, I can finish what you started. I can set these people free."

But he shakes his head at you now and says you don't understand, you never understood, this is not the way the world works, there is no black or white, or even shades of grey. The complexity of all would melt the mind of anyone man who tried to take it all in.

But how you were supposed to know that?

He never told you. He never wanted to tell you anything. Only until it was too late. And then he sent in his old friends. But he felt shame when he thought of you. That you could come from him. But who was he? A living joke, when you were the rising star.

Life was easy, for a long time. Drink some beers, have some lunch, go watch your baseball team play a game, chew some tobacco right there in the bleachers, next to your wife. Man, you were king of the world back then. Well, King of Texas, anyway. And that was all the world you knew, and that was all the world you needed to know.

But it's not then, it's now.


And you wonder, you wonder...

Like anyone would wonder.

What happened?

What the fuck happened?

How did it all go so fucking wrong?

This is now. This is your world. Your country. Your people. Your war.

And you're trying to get it right, in the time you have left.

You want to get it right. You would give your life like Jesus to get this right. To make it good.

God told you, this was the right thing to do. That when he said Love, he meant Freedom. That's what you wanted to give to the world as your gift as the most powerful man on the planet.

But your dreams lie in ruins now.

Your world has turned dark. Your dad isn't well. He doesn't understand why you did what you did. He warned you about those people. All those who told you were right, that you would be remembered as greater than George Washington. One day. If only you did what they said.

Get him. Get Saddam. Take his country. Kill them all.

Greater than Washington?

Not now.

Not ever, now.

And they want you gone.

All those who told you you had to do this. That you had to seize the moment in history provided by 9/11 to change the future. They want you gone in the worst way. Because everyday you're still there, you remind them of their own failings. Of their own hatred and their pitiful fancy, and their shame, and egret.

If they even know how to feel shame and regret.

They want you gone so bad, you don't even know if you will make it to your last days, if you will even be alive in January, 2009.

How can two hundred million Americans hate you so much?

Don't they understand? You're not God. You're The one who was not supposed to succeed. Who was not supposed to become President. You were written off before you even got out of high school. You drank too much, you did too many drugs, you made so many mistakes, but you got your shot at the golden fleece.

The greatest prize in history.

You were so close. Like a god on earth, maybe. For a few weeks perhaps.

So close.

And now it's all gone. All gone.

You dream about the Americans who died in Iraq, in Afghanistan, like you dream about all those other talented, brilliant young people who were engaged in black budget activities that never reached the newspapers, the successes and the failures, all those who will never be granted medals, or even recognised by name for the ways they tried to change the future. Tried to change the world. Like you did.

You keep going back to George Washington.

You keep returning to the same books. Re-reading them, trying to find something in those words, in that history, in those legendary days of the 1770s to guide you now. God isn't there anymore. You call to him, but there's no answer. Not like before.

You pray to Washington now. He was written off, like you are now, nobody believed he could turn it all around and defeat those who were unbeatable. But he did it. He proved them all wrong. And he changed the world forever.

Can you do this now?

Can you make it?

Can you prove them all wrong?

Are you strong enough?

You cry today for that young man, that brave young man who saw a grenade in the street and threw his helmet on it, and then blocked the rest of the blast with his chest. He died back home, with his parents by his side.

That poor kid. He died to save his friends, not only from death, but from shrapnel wounds. How brave is that? You cry because you don't know if you would have done the same thing in the place of the man whose family you just gave a medal to.

You want to cry?

Of course you want to cry.

What man wouldn't.

To see all this horror, and to know it is your own making.

They won't blame Saddam.

Not in two hundred years.

They won't blame Richard Perle and Frank Gaffney Jnr and Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, and all those who signed their names to that fantasyland doctrine in the late 1990s.

Their names will fade.

Some of them, some of those who cried loudest for war against Iraq, their names are already forgotten. They've gone back to being nobody fuck-alls and the nothings they were before you let them walk the halls of the White House and get a lend of your ear.

But your name, George W. Bush, it is your name that will be remembered in the centuries to come.

You are already the most famous President of the United States. Ever.

The poor, starving masses huddled in mud huts in the middle of bone-dry, food-bare Africa, and their equivalents in all the regions of the world, they don't know who the fuck Lincoln and Washington were.

But they know your name.

Oh yeah, they know who you are.

And they blame you for everything.


So you cry now. You cry now for all the dead American soldiers, and all the dead Iraqis and Afghans, and all those dead Somalis from this week as well. You weep for them all. And you cry for your country, and the wars to come, in far off lands, and the wars to come at home.

It won't end well.

There will be more horror to come. For everyone.

And for you, too.

If they let you live that long.

Someone has to pay. Someone always has to pay. To clean the slate. To restore the balance. To clear the halls of the ghosts. To let the world breathe a sigh of relief.

To start at the beginning, to begin again.

Did you give it your all? Did you give it your best shot?

Did you do it better than your dad?

He cries now, too.

But not with you.

So you cry alone, when everyone else has gone home.

God will forgive you.

Some of the mothers of the dead have already forgiven you.

But will America forgive you?

You want to make it end.

But even you can't stop it now.

And so it must go.

As it always goes.

So it goes.

This brutal war.

So it goes.

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