Walter Jones, Republican of North Carolina, elected in one of the most militarized Congressional districts in the country, and also the author of the Freedom Fries stunt at the House cafeteria, has been set free by the truth of the war in Iraq. As a result of going from one of George Bush's biggest cheerleaders to this about-face, he could very well be set free (of his job) by his constituents in the 2006 off-year elections.
Jan Frel , in a piece for AlterNet, searches for the reasons why Jones has changed his mind. This, I believe, is the key for us all. As Americans, left or right, liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, most of us wanted to believe the evidence. We wanted to believe Colin Powell when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. We wanted the world to be free of this threat. We wanted to believe there was no other option. We wanted a quick decisive war. And we wanted throngs of Iraqis in the streets hailing the liberators and embracing democracy, pluralism, and freedom. What we did not know, and what Walter Jones did not know, was that the entire thing was based on a series of lies. These weren't simply mistakes. Bush wasn't hoodwinked by insidious Washington insiders. He had his henchmen, like Cheney, constructing a complicated fabric of deceptions, false intelligence, and empty motivations for war. He knew what he wanted to do even before 9/11. These lies, combined with the constant death toll of people from his district, are what has moved Walter Jones to switch his position on the war in Iraq.
According to Frel: "a congressional staffer who works closely with Walter Jones' office right now told me that Jones changed his mind about Iraq after some 'difficult soul searching,'
and that the 'growing gap' between the truth about Iraq that plays out in his district and the Republican party line he's supposed to toe in committee hearings has taken a "terrible toll on him." When I asked Jones' press secretary what led to the shift, she told me it was a combination of "the top-secret briefings, researching the issues, and talking to families."
It's amazing what a little truth and reality can do for someone's perspective.
Except, of course, if you are Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or George Bush. Their stubborn rhetoric in the face of the terrible reality of what is happening in Iraq (and in Afghanistan, too, where they have failed miserably) betrays the American people yet again. They lie going in and they lie going out. In their case, the truth will never set them free, because the cost to them is too extreme. They will, if we let them, go down with the ship, believing the iceberg they hit was some anti-American conspiracy and that people like Walter Jones were at fault.