The Worst Comparison of 2006
I'm going to make a comparison that is so wrong that I apologize in advance. It popped into my head and I wish it hadn't. Simply put I would like to compare Emilie Boyles to the apparent massacre at Haditha in Iraq. I blame this on my immersion into the blogging world. Never have I had so many brain cells devoted to the local political scene. It is indefensible. There are now banks of memory tied up with the tram and the City Council. For the life of me, I can't justify why that should be. Nothing Erik Sten has done matters as much as the world of Dick Cheney. There should be a firewall between these arenas, but there isn't. Information flows and the worlds collide.
The U.S. soldiers who apparently crossed the line in Haditha are responsible for their own actions, and yet I blame President Bush to a great degree. It was his monumental incompetence, and wretched need to compensate for his own lack of being a tough guy, that placed these soldiers in a situation they never should have been in. Once they were there, President Bush and Rumsfeld wore these soldiers down till they snapped. There is no one among us who can say definitively that we wouldn't have reached our breaking point, as well. These soldiers are to blame, but the blame also falls on our bumbling Commander-In-Chief who left these men out in the desert heat with no plan. President Bush will express shock and deep disappointment at these events, but I will quote from my own columns I wrote before the Iraq War started - the columns I was later told led to the end of my regular work with the Portland Tribune. They were printed just weeks before the start of the war and they're about a Vietnam Vet. The subject was the unintended consequences of battle: "If President Bush hadn’t used his political connections to avoid Vietnam, he might have learned more about those" and "we shouldn’t forget what can happen when human beings are placed in a horrible military situation." The latter was from a column about the collapse of military discipline in Vietnam, and what might lie ahead in Iraq.
Now for the ridiculous leap to Emilie Boyles. She is responsible for whatever scams she knowingly ran to get the campaign money. There must have been that one wild night when she realized she had nearly 150 large in the bank to do with whatever she wanted - at least in the short term. Not everyone who lives in a trailer ever gets to experience that feeling. But the weakest part of my point is to compare the moral pressures on her to what was happening to the soldiers in Iraq. That is the reprehensible leap of this whole exercise.
However the part that does bear some comparison is the role of the government leaders in bringing this about. Aren't they to blame just a little bit for dangling the 150 grand in front of Portland's poorer citizens for such a ridiculous threshold? $5,000 gets you $150 grand? Those are tempting numbers for the staunchest moralist. It wasn't entrapment. It wasn't anyone's legal responsibility except hers. But still, we count on our leaders not to make stupid moves that could lead to trouble. And if they're good they have safeguards in place for when the plan goes badly, to prevent the worst from happening. Our leaders did an extremely poor job in that regard. So in that sense, government officials are to blame. It's true whether you're a soldier in Haditha or living in a trailer in Portland.