No Taming This Shrew


Dan Dan and Downing Street

Where to begin, where to begin...

My dinner last night with my old friend "The Soon to be Famous Playwright" (SFP) was lovely as all dinners with him can be. SFP is one of these people who is positively scandinavian in his own moroseness at times, but who is also a chipper bit of sunshine about other people. He convinced me over spicy asian noodles and fabulously icy bevies that I would indeed get a job, have a future, etc. He also brings out the potential sophisticate in me. He's read, taught, seen, or written more plays than I'll ever get close to looking at (they're modern -- I've read a boatload of very old and oftentimes very bad plays), and our conversations often turn to theater. It's never more exciting to talk about something than when your companion is an expert, a professional, an aficionado. So I attempt to keep up and try to relate/review the last five plays I've seen. They're all Shakespeare this year, but they were good Shakespeare. Need to reconnect with the 20th century. Heck, maybe I'll start with the 18th century and work my way up.

But this morning my friend ST sends me the Downing Street memo petition that's been circulating around and it's changed my mood considerably. Not to enraged (too hot for that already), or to happy or even to any one emotion. Just to a state of jaded confusion.

I'll explain. The Downing Street Memo is what was leaked (conveniently? UK Deep Throat?) to the Times of London a few weeks ago. It basically alleges that our administration admitted to the Brits two months before the invasion of Iraq that they were cooking the books to facilitate an invasion. Intelligence and facts were being altered to support a legitimate invasion of Iraq. Here's a brief excerpt from the memo: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." (I bet our memos aren't this coherent or use big words like "conjunction." Am I bitter? Perchance.)

So the memo is a real humdinger that indicts Bush and the administration. The petition, circulated by the MoveOn PAC via Representative John Conyers, is what fills me with a sense of total inadequacy. (Here's the full letter from Conyers.) There are the questions the letter asks W:

As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:

  1. Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
  2. Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
  3. Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
  4. At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
  5. Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

These are the same questions 89 Members of Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., submitted to you on May 5, 2005. As citizens and taxpayers, we believe it is imperative that our people be able to trust our government and our commander in chief when you make representations and statements regarding our nation engaging in war. As a result, we would ask that you publicly respond to these questions as promptly as possible.

I just don't see the need for answers to this. Haven't we all known this? Hasn't this been as covered as possible? Didn't the country re-elect this traveling circus in spite of it all? I really don't want to feel cynical about this, but my first response to seeing the petition and the letter was to say to Conyers, "fat chance, big guy."

YUCK! I'd berate my students for premature cynicism if they said such a thing in my class! But...ugh. I wish I could even feel angry, but I just feel tired and sad. No desire for political action in the slightest, no faith that the Dems or the Republicans who still have a head on their shoulders will get anything heard about this that will change anyone's mind in the slightest. I believe without a doubt that Bush & Co. were cooking the books, but I would have a heck of a time convincing much of the country. And that bums me out. (An interesting corollary to this has been the past week or so of the cartoon called "Candorville," which has been discussing what would happen if Deep Throat tried to leak information about a president today. Interesting and sickly funny.)

In other news, a fella friend of mine called me an "emotional dominatrix" yesterday. Is that bad? I think it's bad. Sigh.