Oct 182004
Authors: John Walsh

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

So goes the clich� that has governed the rules of

business, ethics and even love throughout the years. In taking this

to heart, it is only righteous to expand this truism to the realm

of politics. That said, a vote for Sen. John Kerry this November is

the only way to avoid being the victim of a clich�d


Political decision-making is not a playground, nor is it a

lighthearted game. You don’t get a redo or retry in the

rough-and-tumble world that is international politics. Politics is

not like your Sunday night league match at Monte Carlo Lanes where

you “accidentally” stepped on the foul tape in the fifth frame; if

you’re over the line in politics, you’re over the line. A poorly

considered decision, or even a flippant excitatory gesture in

politics (Howard Dean, we knew thee well) almost always spells

boil-over for an elected official trying to contain his or her own

idiosyncratic political pressure cooker.

So why have we not applied this schema to our current


There is no doubt, regarding his original reason for doing so,

that President George W. Bush made a mistake in sending troops to

Iraq. Regardless of whether you think the world is a better place

after the United States’ invasion of Iraq, it is without dispute

that the president (or at the very least one of those upper-tier

politicos) made a huge, misinformed mistake.

But isn’t that the job of the president? Aren’t the final

outcomes on issues left in his outcome-rearing hands? Since when

did we stop holding decision-makers responsible for their


Webster’s Dictionary defines executive as “having administrative

or managerial responsibility.” Then, President Bush, being the

chief member of the executive branch, ought to assume

accountability for the transgressions he has perpetuated.

Why can we now not hold the most powerful man in the world

accountable for mistakes he has made? Getting a favorable outcome

on a mistaken and uninformed decision merits, at best, a “Let’s be

glad that didn’t turn out worse” pat on the back, not a


But, some might say, despite a few transgressions, Bush has

continued to be the strong and resolute leader this country so

dreadfully needs. But is it not so that a strong leader had not

only to acquiesce in the praise when the political tides roll high,

but also to endure blame when those same tides scrape


Bush has done anything but this.

In his last State of the Union Address, Bush made a blatantly

false claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from countries in

Africa. Like he has done so many times, Bush claimed that the

information was vetted to him by the CIA, and he effectively forced

former Director of the CIA George Tenet into an early retirement

the following year.

Another sacrificial lamb who was forced to leave the CIA was

former Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt. Yes, Pavitt is

the official who gave a detailed presentation regarding the dangers

of the al-Qaida terrorist network and Osama bin Laden to the

current president shortly after he was elected. He is also the man

who was chosen to testify (with Bush administration backing) in

front of a post-September 11, 2001, committee. There, he was forced

to admit that the CIA had done its best but had “failed.” Nothing

was said about the president. To date, George Bush has yet to make

any such statement of personal responsibility (however, in the

classic Bush style, he has inculpably called upon his

administration to come clean).

Being a strong leader does not constitute pawning off blame on

the next disposable governmental figure in line.

But perhaps the worst infraction Bush is responsible for is the

degradation of the United States’ national alliances. Our allies

have helped us to acquire significant weight and even supremacy

over almost every sphere of influence on the globe. But because of

a war that most of the rest of the world feels is unjust, we have

lost so many of the ties that were once such a source of


Certainly, the opposition of Canada, Germany, Russia and France

(all of which, from the beginning, refused to join Bush’s

“Coalition of the Willing”) is not the opposition of the whole

world, but the problems go deeper than that. Recent polls find that

barely 50 percent of the British find the U.S.’s policy on war to

be just. And the Brits are not alone. Recent studies by CNN.com

indicate that support from long-standing allies Poland and Italy

has dipped below 50 percent and is a meager 34 percent in the


It is obvious then that the more we go against our allies’

wishes, the more strained our international relationships will

become. The more strained our international relations become, the

fewer friends we will have. The fewer friends we have, the less

authority we will have to exercise worldwide influence. And the

list perpetuates.

All of this suggests that the United States is slowly digressing

back to a state of isolationism. With no friends, and no one to

rely on in the ever-globalizing world, it is scary to imagine where

we’ll be when we need a shoulder to lean on.

At least we have Azerbaijan, Macedonia and Uzbekistan to fall

back on.

I should take this time to let it be known that I am not an

overly political person. I’m not on some extreme, left-wing,

anarchy-equals-peace-quest. I am not even truly campaigning for

John Kerry (he’s just another Yailie, anyway, right?) What I am

doing is advocating the change of a leader who has made


The fact of the matter is that politics is not a game. The

fundamental principle of democracy is voting, and the people of the

United States have the right and duty to vote out a leader who has

made grave errors in judgment and action.

I, for one, will not be fooled again.

John Walsh is a sophomore studying technical journalism.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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