Running out of excuses 

Running out of excuses

The administration keeps changing its story about why and how the U.S. invaded Iraq, a country that has been punished terribly for having done nothing to us. Vice President Dick Cheney now says it’s irrelevant that the weapons of mass destruction the administration had promised were in Iraq did not in fact exist. The burden of proof was not on America to find the alleged weapons, Cheney says. The burden was on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to prove that he didn’t have WMDs. In other words, Iraq was guilty until proven innocent, a grossly un-American concept. The Bush administration is doing the same thing to American ideals that it’s doing to Iraqi civilians.

Cheney says one thing – and maybe only one – that contains an element of truth. Many Democrats are culpable with the Republican majority in Congress; they voted for the invasion too. But one who didn’t is Arkansas’s Vic Snyder. The only veteran in the Arkansas delegation, the Second District congressman was also the only member of the group to vote against the use of force in Iraq, and one of a comparative few in the whole Congress. Arkansas should be proud and grateful. Once again, Representative Snyder has shown our best face to the world.

Though lagging behind Snyder, other members of the delegation are wising up. Sen. Blanche Lincoln recently voted for a proposal to require the administration to set goals for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. It failed, but the sentiment behind it grows stronger every day. Open-ended, unwinnable wars are not to Americans’ liking. And, contrary to what George Bush says, that’s a good thing.

Bold talk

As the House of Representatives debated a proposal to cut social programs for the poor while granting tax breaks to the rich, a rustic 31-year-old member from Florida suggested that penalizing families in this way somehow amounted to upholding family values. Arkansas’s Marion Berry was incensed, as any warm-blooded lawmaker would be. He denounced “this assault on women and children” and described the Republican assailant as a “Howdy Doody-looking nimrod.”

It was an interesting choice of words. The original Nimrod, with a capital “N”, was a mighty hunter, mentioned in Genesis. Without the capital, nimrod entered the language meaning “hunter,” and that’s still the only definition listed in standard dictionaries. Slang is a different thing, however, and nimrod today has acquired a meaning of “dimwit, simpleton.”

That a young Florida Republican would be a nimrod is pretty likely. Look at the governor they have down there. But there are rules of civility that need to be observed in debate. Compromise is in order: Berry stops calling Republicans nimrods and they stop trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. A win-win situation.


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