"The Kingness of Mad George"
They established an intricate system of checks and balances to ensure that the sort of tyranny they'd just fought to defeat never rose again. They gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to guarantee our freedoms. Rather than a king, Americans would have a popularly-elected President. They'd always be free to openly express their opinions, especially about the government and its policies. The public would be the master of its own rulers.
It was a unique experiment in liberty which evolved and endured for more than two centuries, until one day in November of 2000. The Founding Fathers would never have envisioned the Imperial Presidency of George W. Bush and his court-appointed "Government of the neo-cons, by the neo-cons, and for the neo-cons." A self-righteous minority of ruthless, profiteering, ideological extremists was never supposed to dominate all three independent branches of the American Democracy. It's in your old high school civics book. Look it up.
While we were all busy with the breathless search for the elusive Iraqi A-Bomb, Mr. Bush and his handlers apparently secretly passed the "Freedom of Disinformation Act," under which the Republican-controlled Senate and House would finally issue their long-delayed and heavily rewritten version of the "9/11 Report." This would effectively lay blame on everyone but the White House. Imagine that.
Imagine also that 28 key pages in the report which related to Saudi Arabia were blacked out. Mr. Bush's people apparently thought that redaction was the better part of valor, considering the fact that the bin Laden and Bush families and the Saudi Oil Princes all go back so profitably for decades. The Presidency is temporary, but big oil money is eternal. (Even the Saudis have objected to the omission.)
Do you like political intrigue? Take a moment to envision what the Republican response would be if a Democratic President had allowed 3,000 Americans to be murdered and never caught those behind the plot after promising to do so. What if a Democratic President had issued a softball report carefully produced by a totally Democratic Congress, with key clues missing as to the actual people responsible for the debacle? What if those clues could impact his own long-time business and political associates? Are you envisioning this situation?
Now imagine that on September 12, 2001, the Democratic President had reportedly allowed a private jet to collect the closest relatives of the presumed key man behind the murderous attack so they could leave the country prior to any untidy FBI questioning. Imagine that same Democratic President had then tried to block an independent investigation of the worst US terrorist event in history, one that was called for by the victims of the attacks and by their families. Are you following this so far?
Then, to divert attention from his botched domestic economy and his failed quest for the killer of those 3,000 Americans, suppose this Democratic President invented reasons to attack a completely different country and got us stuck in a pointless holy war which would cost a billion dollars and seven US soldiers a week.
Got the picture? Can you see it?
It's a good thing the Republicans were in charge when all of this actually happened. If Mr. Clinton had been in power, we'd never have heard the end of it. Can you imagine the bleating on neo-fascist Talk Radio across the land? Can you see Rush Limbaugh's head explode? Ann Coulter would go postal. Can you hear the calls for impeachment? Fox News would brand it treason, and with good reason. Matt Drudge would be up all night unearthing online dirt about the idiotic Democrats who foolishly allowed 9/11 to happen and then covered it up while creating Saigon on the Tigris. Bill O'Reilly would have kittens, and cable news ratings would go through the roof.
Actually, few folks seem upset. Could the American people really be so stupid as to buy all of this without question? The Republicans are banking on it. The regents behind "King George the 43rd" realize that voter apathy and ignorance are increasingly critical to their neo-conservative reelection game plan. A majority of Americans polled mistakenly think that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks.
The Bush folks must figure that as national policy, stupidity works. This includes the man currently serving as President. It's not just that the Emperor Bush has no clothes; he also has no clue...
If we trust the enfeebled Democratic Party to rectify the situation, Mr. Bush and his handlers will probably get away with everything; thankfully, there are good people in Washington who are ready to act. The once seemingly invincible Republican stalwart is now starting to show some cracks. The Cheney-Halliburton Administration is quietly running scared. This can be attributed to a growing revolt in the only constituency that the Bush folks can't dominate: their own Republican Congress. The neo-cons apparently thought they'd bought it, but it now appears that they only leased it.
On November 2, 2004, the full US House and one-third of the US Senate will stand for re-election. These constitute the one group that will dump Mr. Bush if they sense he's spoiling their chances to keep power. As a Presidential candidate in 2000, Mr. Bush had very short coattails. If you seek political change in this country, here's the key. The Republicans are the only people who can effectively defeat George W. Bush.
The Nixon years might have ended with a cover-up, but the Bush tenure began with one which apparently continues to this day. By the time all of this is sorted out, any previous crimes will doubtless pale in comparison to the misdeeds of those now trying to rewrite reality as a winning patriotic saga.
When everything starts to go bad, all the "good" Republicans will run. The smart money never goes down with the ship. Never.
Consider the following: Recently, two key conservatives went public as they calculated the diminishing electoral potential of the Cheney-Halliburton Administration. Richard Shelby, Alabama's senior US Senator and Chairman of the powerful Senate Banking Committee, is a top Republican who is currently investigating intelligence failures before 9/11. He openly criticized the efforts of the White House to censure the 9/11 report. Mr. Shelby stated that he planned to explore the financial connections between governments and terrorist groups. [You can reach Senator Shelby through this site.] Even more telling were the words of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar of Indiana. During a recent NPR report, Lugar estimated that rebuilding efforts alone could cost nearly $30 billion, a fact of which he said the White House is well aware, "but they do not wish to discuss that." Lugar initially supported the war but now admits that postwar planning was inadequate. [You can reach Senator Lugar at here.] These two men can hardly be called lefties, and their publicly established shift away from Mr. Bush is something of a sea change in conservative willingness to distance the President's actions from those of other Republicans. Interesting.
Meanwhile, the "father" of the stalled Iraq war, US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, was all over TV one recent Sunday defending the invasion of Iraq as a prime example of how the Administration must be prepared to act on "murky intelligence" during the war on terrorism. It seems odd that many inside the CIA reportedly think that the Bush people have executed a lot more "murky" than the Intel, which was apparently "refined extensively" until it "made" the case for war. More than 200 American kids have died thus far in the name of "murky." There's one other place from which the dreaded Iraqi WMD are missing—Mr. Bush's new speeches.
Rising to Mr. Bush's defense is Ed Gillespie, the new GOP chairman who according to Reuters reportedly told the 165-member Republican National Committee that Democrats are feeding Americans "a steady diet of protest and pessimism" in the absence of real solutions to problems concerning the economy and Iraq. If you're the parents of a U.S. soldier who was killed in Iraq or if you are one of the over 3,000,000 people who have lost their jobs during the 919 days of the Bush reign, perhaps you are part of the group which is being fed such a diet. Beware of that pessimism.
This brings us to Admiral John M. Poindexter, Ronald Reagan's former national security adviser, a principal player in the Iran-Contra Affair, and (until very recently) the resurrected head of something called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA, which was considering setting up an online futures trading market in which speculators could bet on possible future terrorist attacks, assassinations, and coups). In response to growing howls of laughter, the White House has since apparently altered the Web site, but it is known that Mr. Bush sought $8 million through 2005 to fund the project. (Yes, this is a real story, although we must admit that the Admiral's adventures always sound like something written for "The Onion" or "The Daily Show.")
Press reports have been released which indicate that Al-Qaeda—those same great folks who helped bring about 9/11 and whom Mr. Bush never quite found time to actually defeat on his way to Iraq—are openly planning more high-flying mischief. Maybe they have the WMD.
Let's face it. It's becoming very clear that it's really Dick Cheney and his ilk who are running the show. To be charitable, Mr. Bush, were he the son of anyone other than George Herbert Walker Bush (who obtained for him a legacy-related admission to Yale), would be lucky to rise to middle management at Wal-Mart.
As more of the blood of our brave, trusting, faithful kids saturates the fields of Babylon, a lot of folks are starting to ask some very untidy questions. We sent our best young people to fight and die for oil in Iraq, while many of their equally young families at home subsisted on food stamps and got screwed out of a child income tax credit that Mr. Bush gladly granted other Americans.
We now have the best Government corporate money can buy, and that's the problem. The people behind Enron, WorldCom, and Halliburton are encamped along the Potomac, fully in charge.
It's good that the folks who fought for and set up this country are all dead. An hour spent watching Fox News reports about the state of America today would kill them, anyhow.
If any of this bothers you, the solution will be available 66 weeks from now. Get organized. The people who don't care and never bother to vote must be made to care and be motivated to go to the polls. If we give the neo-cons four more years in power, the Canadians will have to fortify their borders to keep out all of the impoverished refugees.
This is no longer about liberalism and conservativism, party affiliation, or ideology. If the American people want a country to come home to, they'd better take it back for themselves.
Our favorite observer of the Bush Imperial Presidency is the great Roman Historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 AD). He had an eye for this sort of thing, and two thousand years later this vision still hasn't lost its relevance: "In stirring up tumult and strife, the worst men can do the most, but peace and quiet cannot be established without virtue."
If you think the search for WMD is tough, try finding virtue in any of this.
B. Rehak is a writer in California, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published with the author’s permission.
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This story was published on August 15, 2003.