President Bush may be a headless horseman. But the biggest problem is what he rode in on.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a good name for it 40 years ago. "The madness of militarism."
We can blame Bush all we want — and he does hold the reins right now — but his main enablers these days are the fastidious public servants in Congress. They keep preparing the hay, freshening the water, oiling the saddle, even while criticizing the inappropriately jocular rider. And when the band plays "Hail to the Jockey," most of the grown-up stable boys and girls can’t help saluting.
The people who actually live in Iraq have their own opinions, of course. UPI reported at the end of December that a new poll, conducted by the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies, found that "about 90 percent of Iraqis feel the situation in the country was better before the U.S.-led invasion than it is today." Meanwhile, according to a CNN poll last month, 11 percent of Americans support sending more U.S. troops to Iraq.
Buried in a New York Times news article on January 9 was this statement of fact: "By law, Congress can limit the nature of troop deployments, cap the size of military deployments and cut financing for existing or prospective deployments."
Some Democrats in Congress want to hand the president his head and some don’t. But, as a practical matter, the distinction is moot. He’s in the thrall of what you might call a repetition compulsion disorder that manifests as digging in his heels.
Obviously the president likes the wind in his ears. And he shows no sign of slowing down. Bush can keep riding the madness of militarism at a gallop unless people on Capitol Hill stop nourishing it with appropriations. And they won’t do that unless we find effective ways to insist that they cut off funding for the war.
The key problem right now isn’t the headless jockey. It’s the stable hands who keep feeding the horse he rode in on.