Some days you wake up in the morning and there's no doubt its Opposites Day. It's confusing at first; there are no early morning signs to prepare you for it. But it quickly becomes clear. It has got to be Opposites Day.
A couple of weeks ago, I woke up to the news that President Bush was decorating three distinguished Americans. Listening to the news closely, I gathered that the gentlemen being awarded were none other than retired General Tommy Franks, former CIA director George Tenet and former Ambassador Paul Bremer.
Racking my brains, I tried to add up the brownie points these gentlemen have stashed away in the past few years.
General Franks seems like a straight arrow. He managed to write a book while waging an unpopular war. That seemed deserving of reward at the Amazon site perhaps, but a Presidential Medal of Freedom?
I would have thought that the whole Abu Ghraib prisoner torture scandal had tarnished the general's record a bit, not to mention the effect of this award on those Iraqi hearts and minds we keep hearing about.
Then there is Director Tenet, the United States Chief Spook after 9/11 and the dude who appeared before many Senate committees to assure us all that we had proof the Iraqis had WMDs. He also sat squarely behind Colin Powell at the UN when the Secretary made his infamous presentation against Iraq with CIA maps and props. Well, a performance of that magnitude demands a Presidential Medal of Freedom. How could you not see it?
Last but most deserving of the three, the Ambassador, Iraq's head honcho after the invasion; the cat that sent the Iraqi army packing with their weapons, only to be recruited by the insurgents. Way to go Mr. Ambassador. Brilliant. You deserve two medals.
I scratched my head hoping to find a better candidate. The only person more deserving than these luminaries would be Donald Rumsfeld. I am sure the President does recognize he is qualified for some sort of decoration but William Kristol must have vetoed it. You can't not listen to your base. Perhaps after he leaves office. Better luck next time, Mr. Secretary.
You know, our President has a very keen sense of meritocracy. He is as they say, a CEO President. He recruits the best and finest this land has to offer, and rewards and holds them responsible for their actions, like other great CEOs of our time (Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, Jeff Skilling). Just about now, I can see professors and alums at Harvard Business School looking at each other with a great deal of dismay.
There was a time that acts of such audacity would have confused the heck out of me. But as they say, practice makes perfect. Under this president's leadership, I have had much practice. Let's see, the Patriot Act, The Clean Water Act, the No Child Left Behind Act and the Forest Protection Act. The more it happens, the quicker I jump up and say “Opposites Day!”
Abtin Assadi is member of the board of directors at Bay Area Iranian American Voter Association baivoter.org.