In October 1998, my opponent for Georgia's 7th District congressional seat, John Linder, lied. Not a slip of the tongue. Not a misstatement. Not a little bit of fact-blurring. Nope, what he uttered was a calculated deceit.
Now, I suspect that Mr. Linder's mild-mannered facade has, over the years, deflected attention from many fibs and from his ultra-extremist political agenda.
But, almost four years ago to the day, he got busted. Members of the national press corps caught him in a down-and-dirty untruth. Oops.
As the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee that year, Mr. Linder swore to reporters that, nah, the GOP had no intention of mentioning Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky in an effort to smear Democratic congressional candidates. Such strategy "could be overkill," Linder piously intoned.
As it turned out, not only did Linder intend to use Monicagate as campaign fodder, his committee had already produced three slimy television spots that were loaded and ready to be excreted onto the American public.
Linder didn't have to lie -- and then be exposed by the Washington Post and The New York Times. He could have just said "no comment" to reporters' questions about GOP strategy. Instead, he dissembled.
One of the GOP's ads featured Clinton wagging his finger and proclaiming that he had not had sex with the White House intern. The commercial then sneered: "Should we reward Democrats for not telling the truth?"
There's rich irony there. Bill Clinton's libidinous squirming became the shibboleth of the Republican Party. Yet here was Mr. Linder lying about whether he would capitalize on Clinton's lying.
Fast-forward to circa now. Here's a question for Mr. Linder:
Which president's untruth endangered the American people:
Just this week, families of 9-11 victims have been demanding an unfettered and independent investigation of what happened. These families accused Linder's pal and teammate, Senate wannabe Saxby Chambliss, of placing "politics before America's security."
Republicans have been trying to kill the idea of getting to the truth about 9-11. Their tactic is death by details -- how the investigating committee would be chaired, for example. More important, the GOP wants to undermine subpoena powers of the proposed panel.
Why? It's now clear from disclosures beginning in May that Bush -- and, undoubtedly, insiders such as Mr. Linder -- had plenty of warning. It's equally clear that from pere Bush on down through the GOP-oil-War Party complex, fortunes have been made and are being made off the "war against terrorism" and the planned overthrow of Saddam Hussein. It's a feeding frenzy, to be precise.
So it wouldn't take long for even a feeble prosecutor to start exploring the only two possible explanations for the behavior of Bush-Cheney junta and the GOP establishment -- gross negligence or some degree of actual culpability. Either the Bushies' egregious incompetence resulted in the thousands of deaths on 9-11. Or they were well aware that the attacks were likely and imminent, and allowed them to happen so that their already planned invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq -- to assert our dominance over Asia's oil reserves, and not to thwart terrorism or any "axis of evil" -- would have a plausible excuse.
We're talking about questions many magnitudes of seriousness greater that Clinton's itchy crotch. Questions Bush can't allow to be asked.
If an independent investigator should ask them, it would result in another stonewalling on the release of anything embarrassing to the Bushies -- as Dick Cheney has done in his desperate efforts to hide how Enron and other corporate bullies dictated the nation's energy policies.
One of the questions I submitted to Mr. Linder, still unanswered, was whether he would support an independent commission to study 9-11. After all, considering all of the tens of millions of dollars that went into the inquisitorial Ken Starr probes of Clinton -- when at worst we were talking about financial improprieties and a semen-stained dress -- why shouldn't there be a thorough probe of the Bush administration?
Heck, just as Starr felt he had no constraints, as measured by either the law or good taste, let's find a legal proctologist and tell Bush and Cheney to bend over.
Mr. Linder, of course, has had no response to my inquiry. He marches in lockstep (or is that goosestep?) with whatever the War Party wants.
It would have been delightful to consider Mr. Linder's position on an investigation into 9-11. It would be illuminating to hear Mr. Linder's spin on the really great issues behind the Bush smokescreen.
So, let's continue with the ...
Great Sugg-Linder Non-Debate, Part Deux
Moderator: Mr. Linder, you have supported Bush programs that have put 1.8 million Americans out of work, almost 100,000 of them in Georgia and about 70,000 of those Georgians from the metro Atlanta area. In the next few years, it is estimated by conservative economists that globalization, a linchpin of your party, will cost another 900,000 jobs. Many of those will be in Georgia, where factories will be shuttered and the manufacturing moved to the Third World.
Meanwhile, Bush economic policies and scare tactics have plunged the stock market into the greatest decline since the 1970s -- costing Americans $4.4 trillion.
As your opponent, Mr. Sugg, predicted last week, the Bush administration on Oct. 24 admitted its policies, which you vigorously support, had created the biggest reversal in history of the federal government's financial health. From a surplus of $236 billion, the Republican agenda has created a deficit of $159 billion. Even without a war (estimated cost at least $200 billion, and a forever-ongoing $16 billion a year to prop up a new dictator), the deficit over the next decade will climb to $3.8 trillion.
Mr. Linder, how do you defend such poor stewardship?
Mr. Linder: No comment.
Moderator: Mr. Sugg, would you care to add anything?
Mr. Sugg: You forgot to mention that the only reasonable explanation for the 180-degree turn in federal finances is the $1.35 trillion Bush tax cuts, which benefit almost exclusively the wealthiest Americans while shifting the costs of the staggering new debt to the middle and working classes.
Moderator: Oh, sorry.
Mr. Sugg: That's OK.
Moderator: While the people who live in the back yard of the nation's capital were under siege from the snipers, Bush couldn't be found. The only sightings of the president were on campaign fundraising junkets. Would either of you care to comment?
Mr. Linder: No comment.
Mr. Sugg: The snipers taught us several things. First, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars we've spent "fighting terrorism," the tragic murders in Virginia and Maryland show us that our society remains in dire jeopardy of violence.
Politically, why Bush was a non-player -- aside from the fact that none of the chickenhawks get anywhere near gunfire -- is because the only moral and reasonable action would have been to call for curbs on our violent culture. For example, law enforcement desperately wants firearms "fingerprinting," but for Bush to have backed such a measure would have alienated the gun nuts in the National Rifle Association. Bush couldn't risk that. So, what the hell if a few innocent people are massacred, just as long as the GOP wins the elections?
Moderator: Any last words on the "war on terrorism" or on Iraq?
Mr. Linder: No comment.
Mr. Sugg: Before he eagerly voted for what I predict will become known as the "Tonkin II" resolution, Mr. Linder praised Bush for "laying the facts on the table."
I'm not sure whether Mr. Linder has been sniffing the ether at his dentist office, but what Bush did not do is deal in facts. The most humorous fantasy that Bush has promoted is that Saddam has these little drone airplanes that are going to attack America. Maybe Bush has watched too many Austin Powers movies and thinks Saddam is Dr. Evil (which, I guess, would make Mr. Linder the president's Mini-Me).
More serious mendacity occurred when Bush claimed that an international panel's study had concluded that Saddam was within six months of having a nuke. There was no such study. Or when Bush showed satellite photos of what he claimed were rebuilt factories for weaponsofmassdestruction. When Western reporters visited the sites, they found piles of rubble.
Bush portrays Saddam as a nasty work, and he is. But both Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were instrumental during the Reagan years in supporting Saddam, providing him with weaponsofmassdestruction, and helping him use those hellish toys against Iran. Nor did we object when he savaged his own countrymen. We even promised him no opposition to an invasion of Kuwait. It wasn't Saddam's loathsomeness that alienated the Bushies -- only his refusal to turn over his oil to us on our terms.
What's clear is that we intended to bomb Afghanistan months before 9-11 because the Taliban refused our overtures for a pipeline. And the real reasons for invading Iraq were contained in a recently leaked report commissioned by Cheney that states: "Saddam Hussein has ... demonstrated a willingness to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets. Therefore, the U.S. should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy, economic and political/ diplomatic assessments."
Far more serious -- and barely reported by the mainstream press -- was that last summer the American military played mock war. A retired general commanded the forces of an unnamed Middle East nation -- clearly Iraq -- and in the make-believe war, he won. The Bushies took away the general's communications and otherwise tried to hogtie him, and he still won. So, the War Party simply declared themselves victorious and slammed the lid on the embarrassing story. But the general wouldn't keep quiet. Neither have numerous other generals and admirals who oppose the war. Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command, which would run any war against Saddam, said of the Bush hawks: "I'm not sure which planet they live on."
Oh, by the way, trick-and-treat scare guys in the GOP want to panic voters by claiming the terrorist threat is as great today as it was before Sept. 11, 2001. Duh, then what have we spent the hundreds of billions of dollars on? And why have we disemboweled the Bill of Rights? And why have we jailed thousands without charges or evidence -- and not indicted any of them in connection with 9-11?
If this administration's policies and bellicosity can be defended, I'd sure love to hear Mr. Linder. But, so far, all we get is:
So, I'll paraphrase Mr. Linder in his party's smirks at Clinton: Should we reward the Republicans for not telling the truth?
You know you'll always get a comment -- and The Truth -- from soon-to-be Congressman John F. Sugg, aka Senior Editor John Sugg. Don't forget to vote Nov. 5. If you live in the 7th Congressional District, write in John F. Sugg -- don't forget to include the "F" as in "freedom." Seriously. He's a bona fide write-in candidate. Contact Sugg at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 404-614-1241.
yeah, TW, why'd you make the space so small?
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