What follows is an interview with Congressman Horatio Claghorne of North Carolina, noted hawk on Iraq, conducted by Tim Russert:
"Congressman Claghorne, thanks for being with us tonight."
"Glad to be here, Tim. Now, I don’t expect to be sandbagged like you were Dan Rather, or somethin’ like that. Let me remind you that CBS just fired a whole bunch a liberals for their biased and unsupported allegations about President Bush’s military service during the Vietnam War."
"Don’t worry, Congressman. We seek balanced and unbiased news. You’re on to explain what you think we should do in Iraq now. Since you chair the Committee on Unlimited Aggressive War, we thought you were the best possible person to shed some light on this seemingly endless conflict."
"That’s right, Tim. It does seem endless now. When I voted for givin’ Bush the power to invade, I figured they had some kind a plan for what to do after they got there. My constituents were fully behind me in this, not like them traitorous blue states, which don’t do nothin’ but get bluer every day."
Well, Congressman Claghorne, what do the folks in your district think now?"
"Now? Now, they think we should get the hell out of there after they vote. They figure we got that snake, Saddam Hussein, so the Iraqis can clean up their own snake pit. They’re tired a hearin’ every day that a bunch of American soldiers have got themselves killed by a pack of terrorists."
"Is there any reason why you believed the Pentagon would have a plan? Don’t you remember Vietnam?"
"You bet I do. I voted for that war, too, but when it started to go sour, after fifty thousand of our guys got killed, I boldly stepped up to the plate and called for an immediate withdrawal."
"With a little hindsight, don’t you think you might have figured this out and warned the folks in y our district that this could be a big mistake."
"Listen, if I had a known that there was no plan, I would have said, u2018Hey, let’s keep our powder dry until we got one. That would a made sense."
"What stopped you from doing that in the first place?"
"Son, if I had said that, I would have lost my seat in Congress, no question. The folks in my district were all worked up about those WMDs and how Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were bosom buddies."
"But none of that was true."
"So what. They believed it anyway and there was no sense tryin’ to explain it all to them. Heck, that’s not my job."
"If you don’t mind my asking, what is your job?"
"Son, my job is to keep getting’ elected, so the folks in my district have someone representin’ them that they can trust."
"But if you knew it was all a pack of lies and they trusted you, why wouldn’t they have believed you?"
"Cause they believe the president. They figure if he’s the president he’s tellin’ the truth, or he wouldn’t be the president. Now, if I go out there and tell them what Bush is tellin’ them is a bunch of junk, they’d lynch me as fast as you can say Dick Cheney."
"I gather that you have been saying that withdrawal after the election is a serious option if the Iraqis can’t defend themselves. But how can there even be an election with all the violence?"
"Well, you know it’s only four provinces where they got all that violence, so I say, go ahead with the votin’. Give democracy a chance, that’s what I say."
"But those four provinces have half the population of Iraq. If they can’t vote, how can there be a fair election?"
"Son, where have you been? Most elections in America, you’re lucky to get half the voters to vote."
"Aren’t you afraid a Democrat could beat you, seeing as how you called it all wrong?"
"Hell, no, son. Those blue state guys are now sayin’ we have to stay the course, keep at it until we prevail. After Kerry got his butt whipped, they all ran for cover, thinkin’ most Americans really supported Bush and the war. But I got ’em foxed. Get all those donkeys over on the pro-war side and pull the rug out from under ’em."
"You git it son. The blue state guys are gonna all be for stayin’ there forever. And me and my buddies are gonna say, "Pull out! Not another American life. It ain’t worth it.’"
"But what about Bush? He’s still the president."
"Son, the day after the election, he was a lame duck and that duck is toast."
"You git it again, son. Long after Bush is gone, I’m gonna be here, red state or blue state. And that’s what matters, ain’t it?"
"Congressman Claghorne, I appreciate the straightforward way you dodge the issues."
"Any time. By the way, russet is some kind a apple, ain’t it? Just kiddin, son."
Richard Cummings [send him mail] taught international law at the Haile Selassie I University and before that, was Attorney-Advisor with the Office of General Counsel of the Near East South Asia region of U.S.A.I.D, where he was responsible for the legal work pertaining to the aid program in Israel, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is the author of a new novel, The Immortalists, as well as The Pied Piper — Allard K. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream, and the comedy, Soccer Moms From Hell. He holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He is writing a new book, The Road To Baghdad — The Money Trail Behind The War In Iraq. He is a contribution editor for The American Conservative.