TO MY REPUBLICAN FRIENDS 

How much more evidence of the White House playing politics with patriotism do you need?

The ball is very much in your court this evening, guys. I make myself brief: Do you plan to continue supporting the President after Paul O'Neill's comments on 60 Minutes tonight, comments which I suspect many of you all saw? If yours truly had alleged that the Bush Administration planned to invade Iraq from the getgo -- before 9/11 ever happened -- I would have been dismissed by most of you as a complete wacko incapable of "fairness" or "balance." Now that the former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill -- a Fortune 500 CEO, a loyal Republican who's served Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush pere -- has said much the same thing, however, do you plan to do anything about it? Will you simply accept the ritual denials of the Bush/Cheney crowd that will follow this week, or demand that your President produce some hard evidence that contradicts what O'Neill says, before dismissing the latter as a sour-grapes sorehead with pinko leanings? How do you feel now -- assuming the White House documents O'Neill passed along to Ron Suskind aren't forgeries -- knowing that Operation Iraqi Freedom was cooked up long before Al Quaida got around to hijacking airplanes? How do you feel now when you hear that our "disengaged" President had second thoughts about his second tax cut, asking foggily of his inner circle, "haven't we already given tax cuts to the rich?" How do you feel now about Weapons of Mass Destruction? How would you feel now if your son or daughter were among the dead and wounded victims of this "war on terrorism" fought against a country that had neither WMDs or links with terrorism? Most of all, how do you feel about Bush/Cheney running for re-election? After Paul O'Neill's revelations about how this administration really operates, can you honestly tell the rest of us that America and the world would benefit from their continued leadership? Of course, if the recent past is any indication, these latest revelations won't matter a damn. The Bushies need only keep playing the Fear card, collecting millions for tv time, and chuckling all the way to the bank while our country goes economically and morally bankrupt. Poor Paul O'Neill. He really looked genuinely perplexed when he was asked if he realized how the White House attack dogs would be turned loose on him as soon as his interview was aired. "Why would I be attacked for telling the truth?" Clearly, poor Secretary O'Neill has not been paying a lot of attention to how the Bush cabal has been operating. Now the Real Question is this. My Republican friends, do you think the American populace even cares that, just half an hour ago, a major Republican political figure asserted that the Bush Administration spent months before 9/11 looking for excuses to invade Iraq? Or are they all too busy watching the NFL playoffs? Hey, the Packers and Eagles are in overtime! Wouldja ever stifle, and let us watch the damn game? (And click here to see related piece in The Washington Post. URL for article is http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8435-2004Jan11.html) Kenneth Neill is the publisher/CEO of Contemporary Media, Inc., the parent company of The Memphis Flyer.

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