Tuesday, December 14, 2004

One of these things is not like the other...

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the greatest honor the US Government can bestow on a civilian. The list of recipients over the years is astounding. In 1964 alone, you had Aaron Copland, John L. Lewis, Carl Sandburg and John Steinbeck. Other recipients have been great figures in history, such as Jonas Salk, Anwar el Sadat, Vaclav Havel and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But this year, the bar for earning the medal seems to have been set lower. And the reasons a little more political. President Bush has decided to award the medal to Gen. Tommy Franks, former CIA Director George Tenet and former Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer. Or, "three guys who helped set the debacle known as Iraq into motion."

This can't be seen as anything more that a cheap political ploy. Saying that these men earned this by playing "pivotal roles in great events" is akin to saying Custer deserves one as well since he played a "pivotal role" in a "great event," results be damned.

Which, of course, is the mantra of the Bush Administration when it comes to Iraq. "Results be damned." Since those are under the purvue of the "reality-based community," they simply tend to ignore the results. So even though they invaded with too few men, even though they based their intelligence solely on the single, massively unreliable source of Chalabi, even though they have made Iraq more of a hotbed of violence that thought possible, Bush is rewarding them with an award given to men like Nelson Mandela and Carl Sandburg.

Wow. That's simply stunning. Perhaps we should give Rumsfeld the Congressional Medal of Honor for under-supplying our troops while we're at it.

Yes, I know this pales in comparison to the vote-rigging alllegations surrounding Ohio and Florida (check out the BRAD BLOG for an amazingly exhaustive, detailed breakdown of the issue). But even these little things matter. When we debase the value of honor, we debase the foundations of our nation. And while we cannot stop this particular action, we can at least register our disapproval and let them know we are watching.

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