Vacationing while Baghdad boilsTallahassee Democrat
By Dick Polman
July 21, 2007
Back in May, a group of Republican lawmakers, understandably agitated by the very real possibility that President Bush was driving them over a cliff, met with their lame-duck leader at the White House. They voiced their strong concerns about the Iraq disaster and warned Bush about the '08 political repercussions.
Then one GOP congressman lashed out at Bush over reports that members of the Iraqi Parliament were planning to exercise their new-won freedom by actually going on vacation for the entire month of August - despite the fact that a war was raging around them, and despite the fact that they had enacted none of the crucial "benchmark" legislation that Bush first asked for back in January.
The congressman reportedly asked: "How can our sons and daughters spill their blood while the Iraqi government goes on vacation?" Bush sought to reassure the congressman by declaring that Vice President Cheney was on the case: "The vice president is over there to tell them: 'Do not go on vacation.' "
Well, sure enough, the Iraqi Parliament will be on vacation for the entire month of August - and the White House, ever protective of its clients, is insisting that the hiatus is no big deal.
On Friday, Bush press secretary Tony Snow confirmed the news, and at first sought to minimize it by saying that the Iraqis were going on vacation "just like the U.S. Congress is." That was a creative defense, to suggest that if the Democratic-run Congress opted to go on vacation, then the Iraqi Parliament should feel free to do the same. Somehow, that feels like a false equivalence. Last I checked, the Iraqi Parliament was sitting on some bills that were crucial to the government's survival, while people were being blown up in the streets. And, last I checked, the Bush administration and its dwindling band of enablers were urging the Iraqis to make some real progress in time for Gen. David Petraeus' September report.
Therefore, one might have expected that Snow would tell the Iraqis to put those vacation plans on hold, to shape up and hunker down. After all, that's precisely how Bush reacted in April, when the Democratic Congress left town - merely for the Easter break - without completing some Iraq funding legislation. At the time, Bush went to the Rose Garden to grumble about the Democrats: "And now they have left Washington for spring recess without finishing the work."
But apparently it's OK if the Iraqi lawmakers blow off a whole month.
And Snow came up with a second creative excuse: "You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August."
In other words, according to Snow's spin, it's way too hot for an Iraqi lawmaker to walk down a hallway with a file folder under his arm - but not too hot for U.S. soldiers to patrol the mean streets while clad in full body armor, risking life and limb so the Iraqis can put their feet up and twiddle their thumbs.
Which brings us back to the question that the GOP congressman asked Bush in May: "How can our sons and daughters spill their blood while the Iraqi government goes on vacation?"
The answer is now clear: Because Bush says so.
Contact Dick Polman at firstname.lastname@example.org.