Sunday, July 08, 2007

Frank Rich Defines the Bush Presidency

Not to mention the Bush personality. The title of Rich’s op/ed piece in this morning’s New York Times, “Profile in Cowardice”, is perfect. Rich says that when Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s prison sentence, the Prez stiffed everyone. George W. Bush owes a huge debt to the diehards in the neocon think tanks (like the William Kristol “Weekly Standard” crowd), to the “grumpy old white guys watching Bill O’Reilly in a bunker”, and even to the talking heads who still believe Saddam got uranium in Africa. But none of them got what they wanted. They expected a full pardon for I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, not just a wimpy get-out-of-jail card. What the diehards never understood, Rich says, is that “Mr. Bush’s highest priority is always to protect himself...A commutation puts up more roadblocks by keeping Mr. Libby’s appeal of his conviction alive and his Fifth Amendment rights intact. He (Libby) can’t testify without risking self-incrimination. Meanwhile, we are asked to believe that he has paid his remaining $250,000 debt to society independently of his private $5 million ‘legal defense fund’.” “You know this president is up to no good whenever he hides behind the troops,” Rich said. The only time Bush took questions regarding his commutation of Libby’s sentence was during a visit to war casualties at Walter Reed Hospital. “This instance was particularly shameful, since Mr. Bush also used the occasion to trivialize the scandalous maltreatment of Walter Reed patients on his watch as merely ‘some bureaucratic red-tape issues’.” Rich writes that “the younger Mr. Bush’s cowardice is arguably more responsible for the calamities of his leadership than anything else... he professed support for the Vietnam War yet kept himself out of harm’s way when he had the chance to serve in it.” Bush could have halted stem-cell research in August 2001 by standing up and saying that he wanted stem-cell research stopped, but instead he “unveiled a bogus ‘compromise’ that promised continued federal research on 60 existing stem-cell lines. Only later would we learn that all but 11 of them did not exist.” “When Mr. Bush wanted to endorse a constitutional amendment to ‘protect’ marriage, he again cowered. A planned 2006 Rose Garden announcement to a crowd of religious-right supporters was abruptly moved from the sunlight into a shadowy auditorium away from the White House.” “Nowhere is this president’s non-courage more evident than in the ‘signing statements’ The Boston Globe exposed last year,” Rich says. The Prez claimed he had the authority to disobey more than 750 laws, but he chose not to veto them in public. “He signed them, waited until after the press and lawmakers left the White House, and then filed statements in the Federal Register asserting that he would ignore laws he (not the courts) judged unconstitutional.” The war in Iraq has shown, in spades, the Bush penchant for cowardice. Rich says, “If Mr. Bush had had the guts to put America on a true wartime footing by appealing to his fellow citizens for sacrifice, possibly even a draft if required, then he might have had at least a chance of amassing the resources needed to secure Iraq after we invaded it.” The one goal, maybe the only goal that George W. Bush has aspired to, is a rave review in the history books. He is going to have to settle for being an eponym. As in: Bushic, an era or person characterized by cowardice and mendacity.

1 comment:

Barry Schwartz said...

I've been strutting a bit, having predicted for months that Bush would not risk freeing Libby of the need to invoke his 5th Amendment rights, while others were predicting a pardon. At the same time I am irritated my own attempts to bring this to anyone important’s attention were about as successful as the attention-bringing of Cassandra; and I am irritated that so many people, apparently even lawyers (apart from Fred Fielding), failed to draw such a simple inference for themselves.