There Is No Honor

There is no honor.

I saw Don Rumsfeld’s testimony today, and there is no honor. Certainly, the other men present at the witness table did not acquit themselves well, but in the end, it comes down to Rumsfeld and the President. And there is no honor.

“Who was in charge? What was the chain of command?” Simple questions, these. Asked by John McCain, an honorable man. Simple questions, deserving of a simple answer. But the simple answer never made it past the lips of the Secretary. There were evasions and dodges, a dance of deceit, if you will.

No one was in charge, it seems—because that way, the only people who suffer punishment are the sergeants and privates in the photographs and videos. And as for the chain of command, well…uh…well, that was left behind somewhere in the recesses of the Pentagon. And there is no honor in that.

“When did you see the pictures?” Another simple question, asked by another honorable man, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, deserving of a simple answer. Answered not with a simple answer, but with a desperate dodge.

Certainly, the Secretary had his defenders. The schools, the schools, they cried, all of them—Hutchinson and Dole, and two men who wouldn’t know honor, dignity and grace if they went twelve bloody rounds with them. I speak of Saxby Chambliss and Jeff Sessions, and the less spoken about them, the better.

But what of the schools? What of all the good we’ve done there? So what? Does it make the horrors we’ve seen, and those we’ve yet to see any more excusable? Is this what Republican morality is all about? Getting an extramarital blowjob in the Oval Office is a national crisis, but you can abuse and torment all the Iraqis you want—just make sure you build them 2,000 schools to make up for it.

And just when you thought one side had the market cornered on moral hypocrisy, you had Saint Joe Lieberman, patron saint of pious sanctimony, try to wash away the sins of Abu Ghraib by saying that since the Secretary had apologized (the way a six-year-old apologizes, only after being caught red-handed with the broken hards of pottery in his hands), and the 9/11 hijackers hadn’t, that made things better.

I thought the world of Joe, once. Not anymore—I despise his empty bromides, his saccharine piety. If there was any way I could run against him in two years, I would. Hey, Sen. Dodd, there’s something you can do with all that money you’re squirrelling away: get someone to run against this sorry excuse for a Democrat.

I harbor no illusions that Secretary Rumsfeld will resign, or be impeached. The President is far too mired in the muck, the web of deceit, corruption, and irresponsibility for him to fire one of his closest advisors—because ultimately, the final responsibility lies with him, in the Oval Office.

Harry Truman, an honorable man, once said of the Presidency, “The buck stops here”. Not with these men and women, for whom honor, dignity, and responsibility are merely partisan watchwords, to be mouthed but not lived. Rumsfeld and Bush may be dubbed “The Honorable” for the rest of their lives, but they are not honorable.

In the end, the only thing we have in this life, as people and as a nation, is our honor. This Administration has grieviously tarnished our national honor, by their deeds and their attitudes. What the sergeants and privates did at Abu Ghraib—and, it must be mentioned, other places and other times, from the beginning of this war till now—wasn’t done in a vacuum. It was done because people from the bottom all the way to the top didn’t think it was a matter worthy of condemnation until the whole world knew about it.

That’s why there is no honor. And that’s why tonight, I weep silent tears of shame and rage at what was done in my name.

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