By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2004, 11:52pm PT  

What an astounding week. The crush of events and dirty dealing swirling around the bombshells Richard Clarke dropped this week have been almost too much for even me to keep up with. And I eat this stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Kudos are due to the remarkable coverage this week from master blogger Josh Marshall of the Talking Points Memo for his detailed and meticulous blow by blow on the continuing fallout and the desperately run counter-offensive from the Whitehouse. He has been, minute by minute, exhaustively sourced, from the right and the left, exposing every hypocrisy and misstep as every shoe continues to fall. You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't follow him closely.

So who let the dogs out? Apparently it was Dubya hisself who realized last Monday morning that he may be on the verge of losing the only re-elect issue he has left with which to fool some of the American people some of the time.

But will the desperate, all-out, mis-coordinated flight of the Bush Attack Monkeys work to save the impression that a slim majority of Americans still have that George W. Bush has been so-far-so-good on the "War on Terror"? Or are they simply making matters worse for themselves?

To be fair, I'll disclose once again my personal view of what a horrible mistake I believe the War in Iraq to have been. In the early months following 9/11, I was all ears to the Bushies arguments on the despicable Saddam. Then, as it became increasingly clear that they had no real interest in their very own argument - that Saddam's WMD program was a danger the world couldn't afford to ignore - by undermining themselves with that whole UN/Hans Blix charade they put on, all credibility quickly dissipated, and has been in continuous freefall from where I sit ever since.

So through those eyes, I've watched as nearly 600 American servicemen died, some 13,400 medical evacuees, anywhere from 4800 to 6400 Iraqi military killed (the great majority of them inscripted by threat of death), and a stunning 7000 to 13,500 Iraqi Civilians killed (depending on the source, for example Bill O'Reilly likes to quote 10,000 as the number) in this disgraceful debacle waged under the guise of "Making the world safe from terror" or "Liberation" or "Draining the swamp" or whatever the hell the talking points of the week were.

Then comes forth Richard Clarke, registered Republican, and top Counterterror Advisor to four US Presidents going back to the Reagan Administration who originally appointed him. He unleashes the wrath of the Bushies in one fell swoop, stating in no uncertain terms - under oath - that "By invading Iraq the President of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terror."

Uh, oh. Game over.

And the Bushies went apeshit and began shooting in every possible direction, but continue to hit seemingly only themselves.

I have been, from time to time, the intended prey of wolves out to save themselves at any cost. I've seen such characters foolishly attempt to personally destroy those they see as opposition, instead of simply answering to the charges made with substantive information if it exists and/or simply taking accountability for failures. So as one who has been there - albeit on an admittedly smaller and ultimately insignificant level - I would like to go on record to say: Richard Clarke is an American Hero. History, I'm certain, will bare me out on that one.

In the meantime, what a godforsaken mess they've handed themselves at the Whitehouse.

For a bunch who claim to be fighting to protect America, isn't a bit strange that they seem to be tone deaf to the spontaneous applause for Clarke by the families of the 9/11 victims at this week's hearing? That they ignore their pleas for them to cooperate with the 9/11 Commision? That they laugh off the complaints of those same families when they suggest it might be inappropriate to use the dead bodies of their loved ones in campaign commercials? That they didn't understand in advance that jokes about the lack of WMD's aren't particular funny when so many thousands have died in a war predicated - falsely or otherwise - by same? That they'd allow their National Security Advisor, the once-respected Condoleezza Rice, to testify only privately and never via SWORN testimony to the bipartisan blue ribbon commission convened to investigate the greatest National Security failure in the history of the country?

Who are these folk really trying to protect? And what must they be thinking?

Now, of course, as you know by my admissions above concerning the war, I'm an Anti-American, Liberal, Communist, Pinko, God Hating, Heathen, so don't listen to me. But when Conservatives like Pat Buchanan concede that "the cancer of Terrorism has metastasized due to the War in Iraq" (McLaughlin Group, 3/27/04) you'd think this bunch might wanna sit up and start paying attention.

Of course, they have been sitting up, and they have been paying attention. They just don't seem to be getting the message. Or perhaps they do, but having gone so far down the wrong path, with eyes and ears shut to anyone - even within their own ranks - who didn't tell them what they wanted to believe, they have no choice but to follow the same misbegotten path no matter where it now leads. No matter how many more dead Americans lay along it. No matter how much farther on this fools errand we seem to be running in this misconceived, ill-waged "War on Terror".

There may be good news at the end of the path, however. It's looking more and more each day like that path may, in fact, soon reach it's end. Smack dab in the middle of Midland, Texas. Game over. Or so we can only hope.