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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

NOW WE KNOW WHO WE ARE

A new slogan has been gracefully draped across our nation, bestowing upon our citizenry a chance to define itself anew. It's a phrase that allows us to move beyond mistakes that may have been made, beyond the blaming and name-calling of the past and settle in a new place where all Americans can share a common identity. It resets what it means to be American at a time when this diffused nation aches for unity. A single declaration, simple and focused. It says it all, folks. And it came from W's own lips. Let's say it all together, shall we?

"We do not torture."

Finally, we know what we stand for. It seemed impossible, but the bar has indeed been lowered.

Responding to criticism and speculation that the CIA is maintaining secret prisons for the purpose of holding terrorism prisoners, President Bush told reporters last week in Panama, "We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists might be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans."

"Anything we do to that end in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law," Bush said. "We do not torture. And therefore we're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible, more possible, to do our job," Bush said. "There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet we will aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law."

He still doesn't get it. He still thinks that by definition, the White House is always right and that if people object or resist or even question the administration's motives or actions, they are divisive at best and treasonous at worst.

Look at the language.

"Anything we do to that end in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law."

That sounds like the end justifying the means to me, a dangerous and, I cringe at my own words here, un-American approach toward governing. That's business as usual for W. If he doesn't like the way the game is going, he changes the rules. Then he says that's the way the rules have always been, and if you don't like it take off your uniform cause you're off the team.

How does he get away with it? And how, incidentally, does one make something "more possible?"

There are indications that the truth may finally be catching up with W. His approval rating is at an all-time low. The indictment of the Vice President's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby may lead to charges of conspiracy within the administration. Red-staters are turning a little pink and violet on their way to purple. From there it's just a few small steps across the hue scale into full-blown blueness.

But I'm ahead of myself here. There's a long way to go yet. The next inauguration isn't for another three years plus. Donald Rumsfeld was right. We are indeed in for a "long, hard slog."

In any event, at least we're blessed to have this new slogan, this re-identifier, proud but not boastful, a simple fact we can all rally around. Once again, with feeling. All together, now.

"We do not torture."

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