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
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
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.