Politics » Politics Feature

GADFLY: Living in a Parallel Universe

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I will occasionally tune in to C-Span to see what tragi-comedy is being played out on the floor of (and it's usually) the House of Representatives. So it shouldn't have surprised me to see one of Tennessee's own, Zach Wamp, make an appearance on the floor of the House during the recent "debates" about whether the U.S. should "cut and run" or "stay the course,"to utter two amazing statements. The first was an echo of what, by the time Wamp uttered it, had already been a thoroughly discredited statement by Senator Santorum, namely, that WMD's had suddenly been discovered in Iraq

The ridiculousness of Santorum's eureka moment was established by, of all sources, Fox News, which was told by the Defense Department that Santorum's "WMD's" were "not the WMD's for which this country went to war." Not willing to let facts interfere with fantasy, Santorum stuck to his story, and found a witting shill in his House counterpart, Mr. Wamp, who reported on the re-discovery of Sarin gas in his floor statement.

Never mind that the gas they referred to was so old and so degraded the only thing it would do to anyone who came in contact with it was give them the equivalent of a sunburn, or that David Kay, the man in charge of finding WMD's in Iraq characterized the Santorum "cache" as being "less toxic than most things people have under their kitchen sink." Ideologues like Santorum and Wamp never let facts get in the way of their agendas.

As another example of that fact blindness, Wamp also made the following statement:

You cannot convince me that there were not connections with al Qaeda operatives and  Saddam Hussein.

Well, at least he's honest. Don't bother him with facts. Don't bother him with admissions by the Bush administration that there was no such connection, or with the determination by the 9/11 Commission that there was no such connection. Zach Wamp knows better. People like Wamp never let reality intrude on their fantasies. I'll bet Wamp still believes there is actually a tooth fairy and an Easter bunny.

But the even more bizarre statement came from Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who weighed in right after Wamp (after paying tribute to Wamp's statement, which he called a "gem"). What he said was:

...[T]hey [the U.S. military in Iraq] are an all-volunteer service. And not only that, they are people that have all volunteered for this conflict, because this conflict has gone on long enough that everyone had a chance to re up. So everybody that is in uniform got to consider the current state of conflict globally, and they signed back up again in numbers far larger than ever anticipated. They said, I am going back for a second tour, I will go back for a third tour, I will put my life on the line, and I will certainly put it on hold for a year or more to give the Iraqi people a chance at freedom.

Hello! Earth to Congressman King. What rock were you hiding under when something called "stop loss" was loudly trumpeted?  Are you really oblivious to the fact that, far from "re-upping," tens of thousands of our troops who were, if you'll excuse the expression, dying to come home, were instead reduced to indentured servitude because the military (surprise, surprise), contrary to your glowing paean to successful recruitment couldn't meet its recruitment goals? Have you heard of the thousands of National Guard and Reserve troops who found themselves in Iraq when what they thought they'd be doing (and what they were desperately needed for) was helping out in floods and other disasters stateside.

Sadly, these kinds of irresponsible statements are made on the floor of the House (and yes, the Senate too) every day those august bodies are in session (which should make us thankful they're in session so infrequently), with little immediate consequence for the cretins who utter them. With any luck, though, Messrs. Wamp's and King's (among others') accountability moment will come on November 7, 2006.

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