There has been much speculation about why the President really chose to invade Iraq. Some say it was to stabilize the region so our access to oil would be secure. Some say it was because Saddam had tried to assassinate the president’s father years before. (Then-President Clinton had already punished Saddam for that one, but that’s another story.) I am of the belief that this was just one part of an ambitious effort by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to expand the powers of the Office of the President of the United States of America to a height even Richard M. Nixon would have secretly envied. They are invoking a theory called the “Unitary Executive” which, in essence, says that the Executive Branch of our government has just as much say as to how the laws and the Constitution should be interpreted as the other two branches. (And I don’t mind telling you that it wasn’t easy to work the phrase “Unitary Executive” into a poem structured like this.) This theory has not been widely accepted by constitutional scholars. That little detail, however, has not stopped them. With sincere apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and fans of his great poem “The Raven”, I would like to present my version of the president’s quest for power with a poem I call “The Craving.” And my most deepest thanks to my wife, Jane, for her invaluable assistance in writing this. I hope you enjoy it. And if by some strange fluke of reality, you happen to be reading this Mr. President, take the hint.
By Wayne A. Schneider
Act I: Extremists
Once upon a Tuesday Morning, after I ignored a warning
Over many there came a furious full plume of fiery gore.
Later seated simply staring, suddenly someone was sharing
That the enemy was bearing, bearing toward my White House door.
"It's those terrorists," I muttered "bearing toward my White House door."
It was one, and there were four.
The other planes had landed where the terrorists had planned it,
Bringing death and devastation on a scale unseen before.
But the passengers still flying on Flight 93 were trying
To prevent more people dying once they learned what was in store.
They sacrificed their souls to save us suffering so much more.
Bless them all forever more.
As I stood atop the rubble of the fallen Towers Double,
I surmised I was obliged to tell the people what’s in store.
I said something like, “I hear you, and the world will all be near you,
And the people that should fear you will hear all of us and more.”
We would ‘loose the fateful lightning of our terrible swift sword.’
They’ll regret their jihad war.
Though the perpetrators perished with the parents children cherished,
Some surviving sons and spouses said they solely sought succor.
"Though we know this sounds alarming, in our name do not be harming.
And we beg you don't be arming, arming us to go to war.
Peace is better; don't be arming, arming us to go to war.
Please choose peace, we do implore.”
Presently my will grew stronger and debating then no longer,
I said, "Sir, or madam, surely you can see the savage score.
There are people who will kill us, lacking that with terror fill us,
As they do their best to will us, will us to allow them more.
Answer back with force,” I say, “or they will just do more.
We must stop their jihad war.”
With the Nine-Eleven terror we said, “Never let our error
Be because we act behind the fact and fail to act before.
If the facts are indicating that the terrorists are waiting
There should be no hesitating and just let them hit us more.
We have to strike them first or else we’ll surely suffer more.
We must use pre-emptive war.
“When a terror group can prosper ‘cause a nation wants to sponsor
Those who use this evil tactic as a weapon in their store,
It is time to stop debating and I’ll end by simply stating,
We must stop the ones whose hating has killed thousands in their war.
We will make the world decide which side they want to win the war.
Us or them, it’s either or.
Act II: Experiment
Ah, distinctly I remember in the previous December
When the highest court decided for us and we beat Al Gore.
We embarked upon a mission to fulfill a former vision
That each president’s decision would have power at its core.
We would raise the power of the office never like before.
What would help? An endless war.
A war was just one option as we worked toward an adoption
Of a controversial principle that raises power more.
Since the branches are co-equal then the president’s own people
Have the right to say what legally the laws are really for.
The Unitary Executive could say what laws are for.
That’s my craving at its core.
Now, Dick Cheney signed a letter years before to say, “It’s better
To invade Iraq and then take back the oil we had before.”
So we hired other signers (‘cause we knew they were hard-liners)
And they’d mollify the whiners who object to fighting war.
We can’t have people with us who object to fighting war.
Their support is what they’re for.
Once in office we were waiting for a chance at instigating
The ambitious plans to take the lands we conquered once before.
The reports we had denied us any reason to abide us
Even though Saddam had tried us, tried us to our very core.
With his petty acts he tried us, tried us to our very core.
But it wasn’t cause for war.
Every bill that I’ll be signing has a statement that’s defining
When the C-in-C can safely be allowed to just ignore
Any part that is impeding on his military leading
Which I’ll never be conceding, conceding during a war.
The C-in-C will never be conceding during a war.
Pointless here to argue more.
In a war that never ended, civil rights could be suspended.
We would simply say this is the way to keep from losing more.
And we won’t allow a trial where there might be a denial
Of our presidential style and my craving at its core.
I can’t allow a challenge to my craving at its core.
Especially in time of war.
But the thing we most desire is a law that won’t expire
Letting cops go peek around without a warrant writ before.
If they find something forbidden, in the open, even hidden,
Then we just go get permission to come back and look for more.
The perfect way to peek in first and then go back for more.
Say “Goodbye, Amendment Four.”
Act III: Execution
With the Congress now behind me, ideology to blind me,
I will execute this office like it’s never been before.
Richard Nixon tried to do it but the Congress said he blew it
And before he ever knew it they said, “Please go out the door.
For the goodness of the nation will you please go out the door?
And return here never more.”
The way that we designed it, when I got the bill and signed it,
I had presidential powers never held by one before.
I now had the authority to say which nations ought to be
Attacked because they sought to be supporting jihad war.
It’s all the same to us if you’re supporting jihad war.
It’s not something we’ll ignore.
In the meantime with al Qaeda, we would soon need to invade a
Nation known to harbor terrorists who did this on our shore.
So we’ll make no separations between terrorists and nations
That conceal their true locations and the bloody hands they wore.
Think twice before protecting those who showed the blood they wore.
This could be an endless war.
Now al Qaeda has no station or particular location
Where planning for the previous plots had taken place before.
So we tried to pick a nation with a terrorist vocation
And we can’t help it’s adjacent to a place that we abhor.
Coincidental that it’s near a place that we abhor.
As for troops? We’ll need some more.
And my other wish was granted with a bill that has supplanted
All the guarantees from searches that you once had held before.
With the signing of a letter there’s no warrant that will fetter
Our attempts to watch you better while the nation is at war.
It must be done in secret while the nation is at war.
Otherwise, dissent can soar.
While my God I was beseeching He told me I should be reaching
For democracies no mortal ever dared to dream before.
And if conflict keeps on growing through the Middle East, I’m going
To tell everyone I’m knowing how the peace I could restore.
The Lord has told me where it is the peace I should restore.
Not just that but so much more.
He also said Saddam Hussein could no more be allowed to reign,
To brutalize his people and give terrorists succor.
With the powers I’ve been given, and the terrorists now driven
To the mountains where they’re livin’, we could settle an old score.
Revenge against the guy who tried to kill my dad before.
I do want to have that war.
Act IV: Excess
“Though we know it may sound shocking we believe Saddam is stocking
Up his mass destruction weapons to increase his standing more.
His tyranny is sickly and we know that he’s in thickly
With the terrorists and quickly he could help them to restore
The threat they pose to people with the weapons in their store.
Time to use pre-emptive war.”
The deceitful presentation of our word-inferred conflation
Was designed to make the mind think true things once untrue before.
Though it’s true we never said it, you could swear you must have read it
That we wanted to give credit to Iraq for starting war.
We hoped you would give credit to Iraq for starting war.
You believed it, and got more.
And we also said that nation had a terrorist relation
Based upon a grainy photo never thought worth much before.
It’s the proof that you were seeking, ‘cause we had some cameras peaking
And they caught these two guys speaking, speaking of their plans for war.
We can find no other reason for their speaking but for war.
If you doubt us, we have more.
In the secrets from a stranger there was “proof” that there was danger
That Saddam was trying to perfect a nuke or even more.
And while danger there is sowing, every day it’s always growing,
Once the mushroom cloud is showing, it’s too late to call for war.
We cannot wait for mushroom clouds before we call for war.
Let’s pre-empt it long before.
In pre-war investigation when they asked about duration
We said, “Six days, six weeks, maybe six months, doubtful it’d be more.
They’ll greet us all with candy ‘cause they’ll think it’s really dandy
That Americans are handy and will decency restore.
To humiliated people we will decency restore.
They won’t suffer like before.”
We also helped to publish lots of stuff and made-up rubbish
Saying how Saddam was so aplomb about the arms he bore.
We were secretly revealing to reporters thought appealing
Who would write that we were feeling that we had a cause for war.
The evidence we showed them said we had a cause for war.
Didn’t tell them there was more.
It was obvious our planning was inadequate at spanning
All the myriad of problems we had chosen to ignore.
We believed it would be easy to just move in light and breezy
And to march the very sleazy tyrant out his palace door.
Democracy would take his place once he was out the door.
Peace would reign forever more.
Act V: Exeunt
Years have passed since the invasion and it’s true the situation
Is more dangerous in Baghdad than it’s ever been before.
With internal strife there brewing, we have had some people chewing
Over ways to be undoing what we wrought upon their floor.
We’re not at fault for all the death that’s wrought upon their floor.
A lot of it is civil war.
And the losses our troops suffer has been getting ever tougher.
We have lost about as many as we did five years before
When the terrorists attacked us and the whole world then had backed us
As our thirst for vengeance racked us as we claimed the right for war.
The world was all behind us as we claimed the right for war.
This I squandered and much more.
Victory has now bereft me and the neo-cons have left me
To achieve what I believe the Lord had tasked me to before.
With support for me now waning and the people all complaining
That our military’s straining, straining to complete its chore.
“We should re-deploy the forces if we want to win the war.”
That’s an option I abhor.
As “Decider” I’m deciding that my future will be riding
On a plan to end the carnage that they’re calling “civil war.”
If it fails it could be ending all my arrogance and tending
To dismiss the people sending me those hints to find the door.
A failure could be forcing me to leave my White House door.
And return here never more.