Vice President Dick Cheney questions whether Americans have “the stomach” to win the war in Iraq.
In Mr. Cheney’s world, “stomach” is a twisted word for “courage.” But it really means to “accept,” “endure,” “bear,” “live with,” “submit to” and “tolerate.”
Is there courage involved when we bear pain, or live with an incurable disease, or tolerate abuse for the sake of keeping a roof over our children’s heads? Perhaps. But there’s also deep, deep resentment. Eventually, that resentment comes out somewhere.
Cheney’s version of “stomach” is the word a redneck hunter uses to shame his reluctant son into putting a load of shot into the brain of a downed deer that Dad shot so incompetently it’s suffering terrible agony. “You just have to have the ‘stomach’ to do it, son,” he says, swaying and taking a pull on his flask.
It’s the word he uses for coldly lacing raw meat with rat poison to kill the wolves he’s convinced have slaughtered a couple of his calves out on the range, even though he knows it’s far more likely the culprits were domestic dogs. Fact is, he just doesn’t like wolves.
It’s the word he uses to gin up the cold-bloodedness it takes to drown a litter of unwanted kittens. That’s “stomach.” It’s the word that describes the deadness of spirit required for him to shoot imported quail on a designer hunting preserve, where the killing is fun and easy. It’s the word that best describes what it took for his elderly hunting buddy to apologize to him publicly after foolishly being in his tipsy line of fire and getting a face-full of birdshot.
But “stomach” can also mean “appetite,” “desire,” “relish” and “taste,” which gives me the uncomfortable feeling that Cheney is really enjoying this war, fought from his safe, comfortable, undisclosed location a world away from the battlefield. He thinks we should have the “stomach” for it, too.
In Dick Cheney’s skewed, dark world, not to have “stomach” is unmanly. Wimpy. Girly. Craven and cowardly.
And yet, “Cheney was of military age and a supporter of the Vietnam War but he did not serve in the war, applying for and receiving five draft deferments. In an interview with George C. Wilson that appeared in the April 5, 1989 issue of The Washington Post, when asked about his deferments the future Defense Secretary said, ‘I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.’”
Cheney has plenty of “stomach” for the war he started in Iraq because he isn’t fighting it personally. He doesn’t have to face roadside bombs, snipers or suicide bombers. He doesn’t have to endure the misery of carrying around heavy gear in temperatures exceeding 110 degrees. He doesn’t have to wonder each morning, as he rolls off his cot, whether he’ll still be alive by nightfall. He doesn’t have to worry about his family back home, who’re trying to make ends meet with a paycheck that’s ridiculously small. He doesn’t have to worry about whether, if he is badly injured, the budget-cut VA will be able to give him medical care for the rest of his life.
Mr. Cheney, our soldiers in Iraq might have other “priorities” for their lives than death or dismemberment, too. And all the Iraqi civilians – men, women and children – who’ve been and will continue to be maimed or killed in American mortar attacks?
Perhaps to you, they’re just like those captive quail in Texas. Or unwanted kittens.
Mr. Cheney, Americans would have “the stomach” for this war if it was being fought for legitimate reasons. If there were a real, present danger, a real, imminent threat to our country from Iraq and Iraqis, Americans would be proud to sacrifice and fight. It’s what we thought, at first, we were fighting this war for, but you lied to us. There was no imminent threat. There were no WMD. Saddam had no power to threaten America and he had nothing to do with Sept. 11. You knew that, but you bald-face lied. And you continue to lie. Filthy falsehoods spew from your diseased “stomach” like steaming, stinking vomit.
It’s taken us a while to figure it out, but we know you now. We don’t believe you anymore. We know – and it sickens us – that we’re really fighting for your favorite company, Halliburton, and to make the American oil conglomerates even richer and more powerful. We’re fighting to make you and your cronies rich, which is the only priority you have – or have ever had.
And now, we’re fighting, and dying, and killing innocents so that you and your cronies can keep raking in the dough until the bitter end, when the term of this cancerous administration finally, finally ends.
That’s the reason America no longer has “the stomach” for this fight. It has nothing to do with courage or patriotism — and everything to do with honor.
We know who the real coward is. It’s you. And Mr. Cheney, we can’t “stomach” you for much longer.