It was a 2,572-mile flight. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, departing New York at 8:26 a.m. EST, and arriving in San Francisco at 12:08 p.m.PST, I had over six hours last Wednesday to reflect upon the sudden, yet utterly predicable turn of events in Iraq as the Boeing 737 traveled coast to coast over this great, sprawling country of ours on an amazingly clear journey at 525 miles per hour six miles high.
Across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, I watched below as our California bound jet traveled from the mountains to the prairies, then across vast expanses of no man's land before bright, sunlit reservoir reflections signaled the end of our journey.
How could so great a nation have been so wrong?
Of all people, Megyn Kelly of FOX News, of all networks, was spectacular in courageously challenging former vice-president and Iraqi War architect Dick Cheney in a live interview, hurling back at him his own words from the Wall Street Journal that same day.
"In your op-ed, you write: "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many." But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well, Sir."
Kelly then recited numerous shortcomings of the Bush administration, particularly Cheney's assurance that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, that U.S. forces would be greeted as liberators, that the war would be brief and that Iraqi insurgency was "in the thores" in 2005.
Kelly then quoted the Washington Post, which stated, "There is not a single person in America who has been more wrong and shamelessly dishonest on the topic of Iraq than Dick Cheney." Megyn finally observed, "The suggestion is that you caused this mess. What say you?"
A clearly rattled Cheney responded that Megyn was wrong, baldly and untruthfully alleging that, "We inherited a situation where there was no doubt in anybody's mind about the extent of Saddam's involvement in weapons of mass destruction." This clearly doesn't explain why 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against the war at its initiation, including hundreds of thousands in dozens of American cities.
As Cheney and a handful of co-conspirators again pollute the airwaves with pathetic attempts at revisionist history, George W. Bush ducks public exposure, hiding behind his easel painting pets.
Reviewing all in my mind's eye as we touched down at Terminal 3 of SFO, I concluded that if there was ever a time for honest evaluation, such moment must be now. In this light and with such measurement, Megyn Kelly seems undeniably heroic.
I have always saved a five-page term paper for which I received an A plus during my college years earning a degree in Social Sciences. I retain this essay as a lasting reminder of ever lurking fallibility.
In this piece from the early 60s, I applaud our anti-communist efforts in Vietnam, endorse "the domino theory" as though it were my own, and unequivocally predict a quick and final victory by the South Vietnamese with the help of our American advisory teams and weaponry. I was thoroughly convinced in the righteousness of our cause. As currently witnessed in CNN's outstanding series on "The Sixties," I couldn't have been more completely wrong.
Those who outrageously suggest that new nightmares in Iraq are due to President Obama's withdrawal of troops are similarly in error, again seizing any opportunity to viciously attack our Commander in Chief with spiteful ignorance and hateful rhetoric bordering committable lunacy.
Over two decades of well-intentioned, but ill-advised military adventures, we have proclaimed "democracy" while functionally crying "havoc" as we let slip the proverbial dogs of war leaving a legacy of devastation, death and destruction in our wake.
Redemption begins with recognition.
In our "America The Beautiful."
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law." - Katharine Lee Bates (1895).