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It is time for our politicians to repent

Politicians are allowed -- even commanded -- to admit that they were wrong. Why don't they?

Was it a gaff — or was he saying something even deeper than he knew?

Last week, former President George W. Bush gave a speech, in which he denounced Vladimir Putin. President Bush stumbled over his words. “The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq…” — and then he caught himself — “I mean of the Ukraine.”

Watch the video.

Immediately, President Bush says, under his breath: “Iraq, too.” And then, seemingly shrugging it off, he said: “75.”

Perhaps President Bush was writing off his misstatement to being 75. It happens.

Or, was he saying, even unconsciously, something else? Was he saying that he had been wrong to invade Iraq?

If that was what he was in fact doing, it is amazing.

This brings me back to a moment that occurred back in 2003. It was in Atlanta, and I attended a private meeting with none other than Karl Rove, who was then serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff under President Bush.

I will never forget that day. It was the day that I actually made Karl Rove cry.

Here is how it happened. The discussion turned to the invasion of Iraq. Summoning up my courage, I got up to speak. I told Mr. Rove that the justification of the war could not have been, and should not have been, the alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (“Oh, they’re there, let me assure you, Rabbi!”)

“Be that as it may,” I said, “President Bush would have been on far more solid ground had he invaded Iraq because of the massive human rights violations in that country.

Gathering my chutzpah, I continued: “Had President Bush gone to the American public and told those stories [I then included one or two that I cannot repeat in this column, involving the torture of fathers in front of children], the American public would have given the President more support in his venture. Instead, he has blown his credibility with controversial theories on WMD and the discredited idea that Saddam was involved with 9/11. The American public would have supported him, in the same way as there was support for President Clinton’s involvement in Bosnia.”

It was a longer soliloquy than I had expected to deliver. But what shocked me was Karl Rove’s response. He looked at me. A tear formed in the corner of his eye.

“Rabbi, you’re right.”

That, of course, was that. My counsel went nowhere, as I should have expected.

Nevertheless, I have put that moment on my resume.

“2003: Made Karl Rove cry.”

What had influenced me to say what I did?

Samantha Power’s book “‘A Problem From Hell”: America and The Age of Genocide had influenced me. Ms. Power observed that American policymakers, rather than having learned from the Holocaust, had consistently displayed a kind of moral cowardice in refusing to condemn mass atrocities as genocide, or to call for international military intervention.

Which brings me, now, to this present moment.

Let me go from George W. Bush to his fellow Republicans — some of whom are my friends.

I would like to put this item on my updated resume.

“2022. Made Republican politicians cry.”

I go back to Samantha Powers — to her contention that American policymakers, rather than having learned from the Holocaust, had consistently displayed a kind of moral cowardice in refusing to condemn mass atrocities as genocide, or to call for international military intervention.

Re-write that paragraph with me.

American policymakers, rather than having learned from the ongoing mass shootings in this country, had consistently displayed a kind of moral cowardice in refusing to condemn mass atrocities.

As the dead of Uvalde lie before us, it is now time for Republicans to admit that they have been wrong. It is time for them to admit that they have not learned from the mass atrocities in this country. It is time for them to admit that they have done nothing to stop the bloodletting and the child sacrifice in this country.

As my brother mentioned to me yesterday, it is also time for Democrats to realize that they have not done enough.They do not have to mention the words “guns,” “Second Amendment,” or even “AR-15s.”

All they have to say is: Children should not be afraid to go to school. and parents should not be afraid to send them. In the words of this week’s Torah portion: “And none shall make them afraid.”

Today, I got my regularly scheduled email from Christianity Report. The headline read: “Stop this obscene killing,” pleads Archbishop after…”

“Great!” I said. “Christian religious leaders crying out about mass death in America!”

Only to open the email and see that the headline continues: “Pleads Archbishop after Reports of War Crimes in Ukraine.”

It is the right protest.

Now, let’s move it to the streets of DC. Imagine 100,000 people of faith screaming about mass death in this country.

Putin is the avatar of death. George W. Bush knows that.

It simply cannot be that this nation cares as little about carnage as Vladimir Putin.

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