Sexual Predators, Loyal Bushies and the disappearance of accountability
As a general and perhaps obvious rule, it seems more productive to me to try and be progressive, pointing out whatever aspects in a group of people or particular ideal that you find unhealthy while celebrating the positive characteristics that are being championed. But it’s pretty clear that we’ve gotten to a point where the Bush administration is an almost laughable debacle that deserves nothing in the way of credit. As Jon Stewart quipped sadly on The Daily Show a couple of weeks ago, “Apparently this administration is incapable of doing anything that isn’t ironic.”
The checklist includes, but certainly isn’t limited to: a borderline criminal non-response to the Hurricane Katrina fallout, draconian security measures that have been not only unconstitutional but illegal, and other domestic debacles in a number of departments, particularly justice. That’s not to mention a foreign policy that has been disastrous at best, from pissing off everybody through a complete disregard to the rest of the world’s environmental standards (the Kyoto Protocol, etc.) to the Abu Ghraib scandal and other essential endorsements of torture from the highest level of the government. Then, of course, there’s the individual hypocrisy that’s run rampant in a startling number of positions, such as Mark Foley, a man responsible for hunting down online sexual predators who, himself, was a sexual predator. Or the fact that Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face. Actually, that one was clearly an accident, but good god is it funny.
In his May 13th column for the New York Times, Frank Rich highlighted a few of the administration’s many gaffes while outlining how the Republican Party has derailed so sharply in the past few years. “By my rough, conservative calculation – feel free to add – there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. I am not counting state, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding, resigned last month in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, now being investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. I will, however, toss in a figure that reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance: no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves under investigation simultaneously – an all time record.”
Call me naïve, but I don’t see how hypocrisy of this magnitude can be so pervasive. Sure, you’re bound to get a few bad apples in an any prodigious body of people like the government, but this is just insane. I mean I haven’t even mentioned the Iraq debacle, the biggest fuckup of our generation, that was clearly a disaster on every level, and one with no end in sight.
It would be a little easier to swallow pill after deceptive pill if there was any sign of remorse, but I see no indication that that’s the case. Alberto Gonzales apparently contracted a wicked case of amnesia when under investigation for trying to replace U.S. Attorneys boasting good performance records with “loyal Bushies,” feigning forgetfulness most of the time then lying through the rest. Ted Haggard, the foremost gay-bashing preacher that the Conservative Christian base had to offer turned out to be a male prostitue-visiting, meth addict who simply said he was “cured” of his homosexual ways, and that was about the extent of his apology.
President Bush himself is really the most aggravating here, since he’s the figurehead and all-time champion of placating the masses and saying whatever needs to be said to swing public approval. On several occasions, Bush has stood by the stance that, concerning the invasion of Iraq under false impressions of abysmal intelligence and sketchy circumstances with questionable goals, “I made the right decision. Knowing what I know today, I would have still made that decision.”
Simply put, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If you can’t learn from your mistakes then that makes you not only a bad president, but a pretty rotten person.
Thankfully, the majority of Americans have finally come around to the fact that unwavering conviction isn’t as admirable as honesty, and his approval ratings seem somewhere on par with how Judas might have scored during the Spanish Inquisition. And really he’s lucky to be getting away with simply being unpopular, because if misleading the country into a war that will then be mismanaged at nearly every level isn’t grounds for impeachment then we need to rewrite the constitution.
Clearly, what this abridged catalogue of the vast amount of incompetence that’s been escalating over the past seven years proves is that it’s time for a new administration. My hope here is that whoever takes the Oval Office next has learned something in the way of accountability, and might admit a mistake once in awhile. It’s really not that difficult of a concept. Do what you think is right – remember that you’re elected to serve the people’s interest – and admit when you’ve screwed up. Because these knee-jerk reactions of defending yourself for public appearance instead of even attempting a semblance of honesty and respect for the people you’re supposed to represent is divisive, harmful, counterproductive and just plain wrong.
Letters from the Radical Middle is a bi-weekly column that encourages discussion over pointless bickering, favoring common sense and a logical middle ground over blind political devotion. Brian Clark is the Managing Editor of the Spokane Sidekick and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, feedback is encouraged.