Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 6  Num. 71
                    ("Quid coniuratio est?")


[Page: E2300]



in the House of Representatives




`I did not take the matter lightly but studied it carefully, and there was a time when not many people had more information . . . at hand than I did.'

`I have written and spoken and marched against . . . war. One of the national organizers of the Vietnam Moratorium is a close friend of mine. After I left Arkansas last summer, I went to Washington to work in the national headquarters of the Moratorium, then to England to organize the Americans here for demonstrations . . . .'

`From my work I came to believe that . . . no government really rooted in limited, parliamentary democracy should have the power to make its citizens fight and kill and die in a war they may oppose, a war which even possibly may be wrong, a war which, in any case, does not involve immediately the peace and freedom of the nation.'

Well, of course, that was then, when young Master William's very own rear end was on the line, and a large target it made, too. But this is now, when the only `incoming' he has to worry about is the errant lamp thrown across the presidential bedroom. By parties unknown, of course. Hillary's contempt for the men who wear the uniform of her country is well known, too, but like the master, the missus hides it skillfully when the chocolate chips are down, as they were yesterday when she invited reporters into the White House to see all the nice Christmas decorations.

The boys soon to be at the front occupy the first lady's deepest thoughts. Her dearest wish is for something she and the marching bands, with streamers flying, insist on calling `the peace process,' oblivious of the cruelty in the cliche and of what everybody beyond the Beltway understands by instinct, that the Bosnia `peace process' is to peace what Velveeta is to fine old Stilton.

`I also want everyone in America to support our military personnel who are going into Bosnia in the cause of peace,' says Miss Hillary. She understands that if our boys can put their lives on the line to level killing fields drenched in the blood of a millennium of ethnic carnage, the most she can do is grit her teeth, suppress her '60s disdain for American soldiers, lately reprised at the Clinton White House, and urge everyone to send the boys at the front a Christmas card.

She wants Americans to remember the families the troops will leave behind, too. `People who take risks for peace, which is what we have seen in Northern Ireland or now in Bosnia, need to be supported.'

Bill and Miss Hillary come late to their regard for the troops, and as sincere as they no doubt are--after months of practice at Miss Hillary's bedroom mirror the president can finally snap off a salute as crisply as any arriving boot at Parris Island--they don't understand that the rest of us need no tutelage in holding our fighting men in deference, honor and even awe. We were doing that when Master William was safe in the embrace of the friendly streets of London, leading cheers for Ho Chi Minh.

Only in America can commander-in-chief be an entry-level job, but you might think that a president with Mr. Clinton's military background (as governor, he was commander-in-chief of the Arkansas National Guard, and brooked no sloppily filled sandbags when the Ouachita River leaped its banks every spring) would choose discretion, not flamboyance, as his guide. Imagining himself as Henry V at Agincourt, he dons a dashing leather bomber jacket, with the patch of the 1st Armored Division on his breast, for the patrol to the mess hall. But neither patch nor jacket makes him George S. Patton or enrolls him in the happy band of brothers. The gesture inevitably invites his troops to see him as a little boy on a tricycle, waving a stick sword, boasting that his daddy can lick the other daddies.

Mike McCurry, the president's press man, calls this the `theme of the week' strategy, and this president has more themes of the week than Baskin-Robbins has flavors. The president, he says, `wants to focus on making the humanitarian case' for sending troops to Bosnia, especially in this `season of hope.'

The intended point, in the familiar Clinton tactic, is that anyone who gags and retches at the cynical manipulation of tragedy is naturally someone who opposes humanitarian gestures, who feels no tug at his heart in the season of the Prince of Peace.

Rep. Ike Skelton, a Democrat from Missouri, is one such ogre. He told the House yesterday that the Clinton policy--he was too polite to call it the re-election strategy--`puts our troops in a snake pit while we're angering half the snakes.'

Snakes abound when you join civil wars, as young Master William tried to tell Col. Holmes at the University of Arkansas in that famous letter of phony piety 30 years ago. Nothing has changed.

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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9
O what fine thought we had because we thought | That the worst rogues and rascals had died out. | Illinois, -- W.B. Yeats, "Nineteen Hundred And Nineteen" | I'm your boy.