Back in my tadpole days, sometime in the Pleistocene, my fellows at Roehm Junior High (Frederick, not Ernst) enjoyed hanging the name of "Scrooge" around my neck. Whether or not they did so in response to my "Bah! Humbug" attitude toward Christmas ("Angels we have heard on high, telling us go out and buy"), I do not now recall. I do remember with perfect clarity my invariable reply: "Scrooge? Scrooge? How dare you call me Scrooge! Scrooge was a weakling. Scrooge gave in to all that poppycock about Tiny Tim and Christmas goose for common clerks. I assure you, I am no Scrooge. I’m Marley."
As I sat by my fireside the other evening, smoking my pipe, drinking a bottle of old Port and occasionally kicking the cat, I thought again about my exemplar, Jacob Marley. What would Marley have made of the colossal mess that Bush, Cheney & Co., have pulled us into? Then it came to me: Marley’s Christmas list! Out of the stony cockles of his hard old heart, Marley would have known what each and every dramatis personae deserved. I suspect Marley’s list for Santa might go something like this:
- For President George W. Bush, a slightly nicer hole than Saddam’s, to hide in once the American people figure out that he started two wars, and lost both.
- For Dick Cheney, a late night visit from the ghost of Colonel John Boyd, whose briefings Mr. Cheney heard and whose wisdom he totally ignored in whooping it up for war with Iraq. Also, at least one foreign policy advisor who is not a neo-con.
- For the neo-cons themselves, those wonderful people who believe in promoting democracy on the tips of American bayonets, Robespierre bobble-heads for one and all. Also, their children get drafted and sent to Iraq for the duration.
- For Secretary of State Powell, a small desk plaque that reads, "There is no position more difficult than that of minister to an idiot king."
- For Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, a portrait of Robert McNamara, to sit on his desk as a reminder that we’ve been down this road before ("Metrics, give me metrics, stout-hearted metrics ").
- For Condi Rice, the title that goes with her duties: concierge.
- For Pompey, alias Mr. Wolfowitz, some clean underwear to replace that "lost" at the al Rashid hotel.
- For the U.S. Navy, complete irrelevance to future war, plus plans for the F-18Z to fill all those carrier deck spots in the year 2104.
- For the U.S. Air Force, status of "worse than useless" for future war, plus F-22s to shoot down Taliban flying carpets.
- For the U.S. Army, hope that the new chief may be the Army’s Al Gray.
- For the United State Marine Corps, the ultimate sh*t sandwich, in the form of orders back to Iraq in the spring. Also Arabic phrase books that start with, "We’re not like those other guys who just left."
- For the U.S. Army generals in Iraq, British uniforms, circa 1776.
- For U.S. troops in Iraq, tickets home, with no return.
- For the people of Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom, which happens when the last "Coalition" soldier leaves.
- For the American People, President Hillary Clinton. This one has a note on it, in Marley’s own crabbed scrawl: This is actually from the neo-cons.
- And finally, for old Saddam himself, his very own reality TV show, in the form of a show trial running right through the American Presidential campaign and election, where he can talk about all kinds of interesting things like how the Bushes were so helpful when it came to using chemical weapons against Iran.
I thought that was the end of my old friend Marley’s list. But then I found something written on an envelope. "For all true conservatives who opposed this counterproductive war from the outset, the strategic advice of Tokugawa Ieyasu: ‘Wait.’"