King George in Decline: Misadventures of an Aging Prep-School Cheerleader: Volume 9: The Lawless President

Jan 18, 2009

According to a writer for Salon who watched the Fox Republican Propaganda Channel on Election Night, the talking heads on that network mentioned George W. Bush only once, accidentally. Neither the Republicans’ fake amnesia about their former hero nor their vote-suppression tactics were enough to save them this time. In a sharp contrast to events in 2000 and 2004, Democrats took action to protect Americans’ voting rights. In Michigan, Barack Obama’s campaign team sued to prevent an illegal purge of the electoral roll. Republican officials in that state were forced to pretend that the whole episode was a big misunderstanding. A little over two weeks later, John McCain pulled his campaign out of Michigan.

Likewise, in Colorado, a federal court ordered the GOP secretary of state, Mike Coffman, to reinstate voters whose registrations he had deleted during the last ninety days before the election. When Coffman thumbed his nose at the ruling and continued to purge away a few days before the vote, the judge reversed that action as well, warning that if Coffman tried any other tricks, “He’ll be listening to me personally.” These victories are a start, but we need tougher laws against vote suppression and a willingness to prosecute existing cases.  

Speaking of pending cases, evidence of the Bush administration’s criminal actions continues to emerge. In a bipartisan report released in December, the Senate Armed Services Committee concluded that the president and other high-ranking officials were responsible for widespread use of torture on war prisoners. The panel stated that in December 2002 the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, issued an order that “was a direct cause of detainee abuse” at GuantanamoBay. Earlier that year, President Bush “made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees.” In addition to the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. Constitution also bars torture or “cruel and unusual punishments,” as the authors of that document put it.

Many innocent men captured during sweeps of Iraqi villages were subsequently tortured. Along with civilians brutalized for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, U.S. troops have also been casualties of Bush’s interrogation program. By implementing torture, the administration created a surge in recruiting for al Qaeda and other radical Muslim groups. The former general counsel of the Navy, Alberto Mora, told the Armed Services Committee of “serving U.S. flag-rank officers” who informed him that “the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq – as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat – are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.”

The actions of Grand Inquisitor Bush are illegal as well as inhuman and self-defeating. Attorney Scott Horton recently detailed the laws broken by the president’s interrogation program and proposed a criminal inquiry. Enforcement of the law and respect for human rights are key elements of the struggle to reverse the effects of Bushism.

Luckily for America, the Republicans are weakened by disarray in their ranks. A fight has broken out between the McCainiacs and the Palin Drones over who blew the election, although it’s obvious that Bush did. Members of McCain’s campaign staff have begun to provide a hint of Sarah Palin’s boundless ignorance (she didn’t know which countries were subject to the North American Free Trade Agreement; she thought Africa was a single country). Of course, such revelations make McCain’s running mate more endearing to the victims of upper-class inbreeding who govern American conservatism.

For example, Ann Coulter can’t wait for Palin to run in 2012 so we can all see that the country rejected McCain because he wasn’t conservative enough. “‘Moderate,’ ‘independent,’ ‘maverick’ Republicans never win,” she wrote, “and right-wing Republicans never lose.” Even by the standards of conservative commentary, Coulter’s rant is bizarre: Goebbels in drag announcing that the American people want to elect Bush Jr. in drag. Still, statements like that one are encouraging. It’s good to see that electoral defeat hasn’t diminished Republicans’ vast holdings of self-delusion.