13 April 2007

Wanted: Scapegoat

Years ago, when I was in the Air Force, a young lieutenant I worked with came up with a great idea.

“I’m going to volunteer to be the Region Scapegoat,” he said. We’d just had a big evaluation and some things hadn’t gone so well. The upper ranks were on the warpath, demanding to know who had screwed up when, where, why and how. In reality, it wasn’t any one person who’d messed up, it was the overall system. It just needed some minor overhauls here and there.

But the colonels wanted something – or someone – a little more solid than that.

So, said the lieutenant, he’d be glad to take the blame. Didn’t matter what the problem, screw up or mistake was. Whenever something went wrong, he’d be proud to stand right up and say, “Hey, it was all my fault! Sorry about that! Dang!”

In return for doing this important – and surely unpleasant task – all the AF had to do was let him stay home each day, drawing his regular pay. He’d be “on call” 24/7 if something went wrong and the services of the Regional Scapegoat were needed. He’d make it his mission in life to be ready, at any time of the day or night, to leap in and say, with the proper amount of chagrin, “It was my fault.”

We all got a sardonic laugh out of his idea.

I was reading today that President Bush is looking for a “war czar,” someone to “run” the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for him. So far he hasn’t had any takers for this new and exciting position. In fact, some pretty heavy hitters – Retired Army Gen. Jack Keene (who helped craft the current “surge”) and Retired Marine Gen. John J. “Jack” Sheehan, a former top NATO commander – turned him down.

It made me think of that clever and sarcastic lieutenant, who was surely a smart young man back then and must be at least a CEO or something today. He was a bit goofy and irreverent, and it’s possible he isn’t a Republican, but I bet he’d step right up for the job of “Presidential Scapegoat” if the pay was right.

But Bush already has Defense Secretary Gates, Gen. Petraeus and many, many other people running his idiotic, criminal wars for him. And unless he wants to hand over his precious “Commander-in-Chief” title – living up to it is really hard work -- maybe George W. should just sit down and shut up.

1 comment:

Wil Robinson said...

I shuddered when you wrote that Jack Keane was considered for the job. I've yet to see a more ignorant, bull-headed and hawkish ex-military officer. His views on how to "tame" Iraq (as he's put it, like they are some kind of wild animal) are outright dangerous and stupid.

In the end, history will judge, and I think Bush will one day be seen as the architect, czar, and deserving scapegoat. It may take decades...I don't think America has woken up to the damage done by the Reagan administration yet (as was evidenced by the praise heaped on him after his death).

But one day, people will know. The question is...will there be anything left?