Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday demand the deep analysis--and the sober contemplation--of every American. For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence--indeed, the loyalty--of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants--our employees--with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.
Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq. It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile, it is right, and the power to which it speaks is wrong.
That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count--not just his. Had he or his President perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience--about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago--about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago--about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago--we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact-plus-ego. But to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance and its own hubris.
And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism." As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that--though probably not in the way he thought he meant it. This country faces a new type of fascism--indeed.