George W. Bush is more and more frequently referred to as "the worst president in the history of America" by those who know the background and pay attention to what's going on. However, that description may be too mild.
We may need an entirely new classification. For more than five years we've had an administration that has shown consistent contempt for the rule of law, for the Constitution, for Congress, for the American people and for the facts. They're squandering trillions of dollars, the effects of which will be felt much more severely in the decades to come.
They have failed to catch the mastermind of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and instead have helped increase that nasty band of thugs with our ham-handed tactics. We have ruined Iraq, doing far more damage to it than Saddam Hussein ever dreamed of. Hundreds of thousands are dead.
All for a war which we are doomed to lose, in a country we'll leave once somebody in Washington calculates that the voters won't put up with any more dead Americans, a number which will reach 4,000 in three months or so.
So far, the corpse count hasn't excited many Georgetown or Ann Arbor cocktail parties, because in this war, those fighting are mostly inner-city blacks, jobless rural whites and Hispanics who are trying to earn their way to citizenship.
Eventually, however, even the liberals may start to get uneasy. Last week, in what should have been a sudden epiphany for the half-asleep, this administration gave us a sharp lesson in just how thoroughly corrupt it is.
That was when Our Supreme Leader announced he was commuting the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was sentenced to 30 months in the slam after being convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Libby, you may remember, was the former chief of staff for Vice President Richard Cheney.
Libby leaked to the press, presumably at his master's direction, that the blond bombshell Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent. This was printed, which destroyed her effectiveness and career, as they intended it would. Why did the Bush administration want to do that?
Simple. Her husband, a former ambassador named Joseph Wilson, had angered the Bushies by telling the truth publicly, which was that his investigation revealed that Saddam Hussein had never tried to buy uranium from Niger.
Libby was tried, convicted and duly sentenced by an experienced and fair federal judge. Previously, the Shrub had said he would do nothing till the appeals process had run its course. Something, however, happened to change his mind.
After five years of trying to govern by propaganda, George Bush suddenly decided that a strong dose of George Orwell's doublespeak is exactly what was needed instead. "I respect the jury's verdict," he said, and in his next breath showed he didn't respect the jury, or the judge, in the slightest, by adding, "I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive."
Never mind that our intellectually challenged and allegedly dyslexic prexy never set foot in law school, or that the Constitution gives the responsibility for determining sentences and punishment to the courts. That doesn't matter because, as he sees it and likes to say, "I am the decider."
But why now? The normally cautious New York Times openly speculated Bush could be worried about what Libby might say once he realized he was at the tender mercies of the guards and his fellow convicts.
For a little perspective, let's compare this with what actually happened in Watergate, the only scandal that ever actually brought a president down.
What few remember now is that Watergate actually was sort of a comic-opera bugging episode in which a band of Cuban exiles, under the supervision of whacked-out former spy Howard Hunt, tried to bug the Democratic National Committee offices one night in June 1972. This was immensely stupid, since it was perfectly clear the Democratic nominee, George McGovern, was going to lose by a landslide.
They were caught in the act; Hunt was stupid enough to have the White House's phone number in his pocket. Eventually, Nixon ordered an illegal and clumsy attempt at covering the mess up and taped himself doing it. Yes, he did other bad stuff, but what I just told you was the essence of why he had to resign. That, and the fact the tape showed he was a real potty-mouth. In that long-ago time, Americans never imagined Their President could possibly be a man who would say "cocksucker."
George W. Bush is a man who has constructed secret prisons and authorized torture not only here but in other countries. He started a war and lied about why. He has invaded our privacy illegally, authorizing wiretaps in a way forbidden by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. When all that was needed was to ask a secret court for rubber-stamp permission, he didn't even do that.
What America what all of us needs to ask now is this:
Why isn't Congress right now authorizing committees to investigate what this president and vice president knew and when they knew it? (House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers: Your move, sir.)
Why aren't journalists in America demanding an investigation to what seems to be an organized cover-up and obstruction of justice?
Why doesn't someone Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, say demand the White House explain its strategy for the Iraq War?
That strategy seems to consist of having our soldiers drive up and down the roads, getting blown up, until one day the insurgents adopt democracy.
We have a world crisis and a sick democracy at home, and our puppet masters are cleverly amusing us to death with Paris Hilton.
You really might want to do something ... while you still can.
Remembering a hero: If you saw George Clooney's excellent 2005 movie Good Night and Good Luck, you may remember the case of Milo Radulovich, a little guy from Detroit who was a veteran, a young husband, father and student at the University of Michigan. The right-wingers tried to destroy him and take his benefits away because his father read a Serbian newspaper and his sister Margaret was a civil rights and anti-war activist. Edward R. Murrow did a See It Now program on his case, which got his benefits reinstated.
Murrow and Fred Friendly always said if it had not been for that case, they never could have taken on the great demagogue Joe McCarthy. Last month Milo had a massive stroke, and his recovery is expected to take a long time. This is a man who made a major contribution to saving your civil liberties. I'm told that he would love cards or letters from well-wishers. Send them to: Milo Radulovich: Eskaton Care Center-Fair Oaks. Room 7B, Fair Oaks, CA 95628-5172.
Incidentally, Radulovich wasn't, and isn't, especially political. He went on to become an expert on forest fires. But the last time I talked to him he told me the similarities between the Bush administration's Patriot Act and the McCarthy era were so great "you'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see them."Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at [email protected]