Ramifications of speaking truth to power

By Christy Macgillivray

So it is a rare and uncommon thing when I decide to dabble in political commentary here. In fact, I make due point to avoid it, and often get some sort of self-fulfilling smirk when I open the Weekly up to faithful page 18 and notice my senseless commentary, utterly void of reason and gravity, surrounded by pieces rightfully tackling the issues of utmost importance to the day, stout souls looking to change and comment on the things that matter, while my headline blurts something about underpants and then dissolves into reckless giggles. But there comes a point when everyone must sober up to the severity of the day.

And that point came to me this morning.

I awoke, stumbling Tuesday recklessness, still recovering from the bout of a 20-page paper and creative arts project due the previous day, to the sobering voice of Midmorning on my good old friend, National Public Radio. Kerri Miller, generally the only voice I can tolerate next to me in the morning, soothingly lulled me into conscious. Middle of the morning, every morning. Sports, news, arts and life. Now that is what I like to wake up to.
But my normally exclusive relationship with Kerri, so comfortable, so impenetrable to outside forces-save for the occasional blast of my roommate’s hairdryer-was abruptly and rudely interrupted this morning-in the most vile of ways.

“It is my honor and my pleasure, as master of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Society to introduce to you our president, Mr. George Bush.”

Argh … Honey, if its pleasure, honor yourself. I want my Kerri back.

I turn over relentlessly thrashing, trying to make the voice dissipate, this intrusion is inexcusable, but I am still too dripping with exhaustion to go through the difficulty of finding the power button.

Oh, ho ho (the radio schmuks as the president demonstrates a saturated and over-rehearsed chuckle, trying to make the smooth transition from baboon into leader in chief of the free democratic world state) Tough, I know, but I still have no tolerance for it.

You see (and I am sure many of you do) the President has been issued a series of speeches, with the intent of addressing the nation on issues of War in Iraq, internal resources and what is ahead in upcoming days. It is largely recognized as PR campaign, launched by the minds above, with the hope of salvaging the President’s sliding approval ratings and inter-party confidence- proving to be so fragile as the war drags on and lives continue to be lost.

Now, you and I and the New Yorker have all probably been against this whole thing from the start, but it becomes a source of concern when even those who most feverantly called the horns to battle begin to lose their lungs a bit, look around, and decide, well, maybe packing up the M16, and heading back to Texas isn’t such a bad idea after all- provided we can salvage the integrity of our economic sanctions, and if possible, a little dignity.

American Radio Works aired a documentary on Sunday about Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the longest standing military town in the nation, where loves lost and lives lived have been in memoriam to national endeavors for generations; remembering their service is more of a source of pride than actual sorrow. But this war, this war has proved different. With military recruitment numbers falling short upwards of 20%, the army has looked to its most faithful to fill the ranks, prolonging stays in Iraq from three months to four, from four to six. One year comes and another goes, and before long, a young girl’s tears echo over the box; she hasn’t seen her dad for years; her mom is sobbing, cursing the military for taking her husband from her.

The speech the President gave on Tuesday in defense of the war wasn’t to win over liberals. It wasn’t addressed to democrats, it wasn’t even really addressed to most moderates either- they’re pretty much lost too. His speech was to try and boaster confidence from the inside, to the parents, the moms and the daughters in places like Fort Bragg; the people who have always had faith but after four promises of return broken, have begun to look, eyes red and weary, towards Iraq, shake their heads, and fold up inside.

Its one thing to point your finger to power; It is as much a duty of a democratic state as it is a pleasure. I prickle inside as much as the next blue-breed liberal when I see Bush botch-up a speech or flaunt a false-truth. I even get some sort of sadistic satisfaction at the prospect of knowing this whole Iraq thing may prove to be his downfall. But what happens when this power begins to crumble from the inside? What happens if Bush does bite the dust for this one? We might have the opportunity to do a vindictive victory dance on top of the rubble of his political legacy, but we still will be faced with aftermath of Iraqi chaos.

Regardless of what happens between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, we will have international political turmoil to weather that may equal if not surpass that of Vietnam, something so utterly overwhelming, no respectable amount of PR can put a good spin on it.
I can’t say that I have the answers here-Bush might still pull a win out of this one, I might get up and turn off the radio, and that little girl from Fort Bragg might get to see her daddy this Christmas. But as things go, I’m feeling a little tired, Iraq is still in dissolved in chaos and, well.the Magic 8 ball next to my bed says the outlook is not so good. There is a lot in life you cannot know, but there is one thing I think I do. With the choice to speak the truth to power comes the responsibility of dealing with the ramifications of being right, and that my friends, (and not to be too severe in my adieu) is something we must all be ready to do.