Today is the first day of spring, and a very special five-year anniversary. No, not of the invasion of Iraq, although yesterday was also a depressingly sad day of commemoration for Americans who have opposed the war since bombs began raining down on Baghdad five years ago. I'm talking about the significant five-year milestone of being cancer-free that my aunt Pat McGehee of Clearwater, Florida, is marking. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2003 and shortly afterwards underwent surgery without radiation to combat it, and sInce then has had nothing but clean check-ups. Now, that's a five-year anniversary to celebrate!
Five years. That's half a decade; in grown-up years, the blink of an eye. During that time, almost four thousand American men and women have died fighting a war that two out of three citizens deeply oppose and wish to see end as soon as possible. Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have also been killed, and millions more displaced, rendered homeless, and pauperized. Whatever political and social infrastructures there were have been destroyed but not replaced by something more durable, as the Bush administration assured us would happen when we first went in. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, marketing new videos and audiotapes whenever he feels the need to remind us who's running the show. But the surge is working! It's undeniable, or so said President Bush yesterday. And the fact that two thirds of Americans want to bring our troops home now, as opposed to one hundred years from now?
That's what Vice-president Dick Cheney said. "So?" It doesn't matter to him or to the Bush administration what the people who "elected" him and his boss want. After paying reverential tribute to the sacrifices of our military men and women and their families by going for a cruise aboard the sultan of Oman's yacht, he responded to a comment by an ABC reporter that two thirds of Americans believe the war in Iraq is not worth fighting anymore with that deathless, monosyllabic retort. He then followed up with this: "I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. There has in fact been fundamental change and transformation and improvement for the better. That's a huge accomplishment."
Five years after President Bush, Vice-president Cheney and their cabal of chest-thumping faux-warrior princes decided that invading Iraq would be a quick and glorious enterprise, thousands of our men and women have been killed, the American economy is in the tank, STD-infected children are dropping out of school in record numbers, affordable health care is a pipe dream for the middle class, the ill, and the elderly, and our constitution has been turned into toilet paper for the radical right.
Meanwhile, the spectacle we are being treated to most frequently on the nightly news and in the papers, other than the diverting sideshow of Barack Obama having to repeatedly explain his association with his longtime pastor while John McCain gets a free pass concerning John Hagee, a hate-spewing religious fanatic whose endorsement McCain smilingly embraces, is Eliot Spitzer's dangerous liaisons with a call girl, Jim and Dina McGreevey's weekly threesomes with the chauffeur, and the fact that Hillary Clinton was oh my god, in the Whitehouse at the same time her husband was being serviced by Monica Lewinsky. What a great nation we are, indeed. What a huge accomplishment for all of us.
In loving memory of Michael Brennan, Ladder 4, Division 3, Battalion 9, 27-year-old New York City firefighter who gave his life on September 11, 2001; and Bobby Wagner, Marine Sergeant and Army Reserves Sergeant, 28 years old when he was killed in Iraq on August 1, 2004, survived by his son Ty and mom June. We salute you.