LEAFING THROUGH THE BU.S.H LEGACY
by Walter M. Brasch
American Reporter Correspondent
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- Usually, it takes years, even decades, for a political leader to develop his legacy. President George W. Bush, over-achiever that he is, has done it in about 18 months. And, there's still two and one-half years left for him to expand that legacy.
The President, that semi-smart smirking statesman, has already told the Palestinians he didn't want them voting for Yassir Arafat to chair the PLO. He has botched discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Undoubtedly, he has alienated, or at least infuriated, American Secretary of State Colin Powell.
And now he is planning to overthrow the government of another nation.
Juveniles who don't really want to fight, yet want to make a "statement," will claim, "My father can beat up your father." In President Bush'es case, his father couldn't finish off Saddam Husseim, so the mantra is now, "I'll do what Daddy didn't," better known as the "Daddy Doo Doctrine." In clear terms, the President says he's going after Saddam. Says he plans to take out that dictator - in his own country. That a "pre-emptive" invasion of a sovereign nation!
The Vice President and the Attorney General, both of whom are too old to enlist in the war, and neither of whom ever served in the military, are salivating at the thought of the invasion. Does anyone else have a problem with the leader of one country deciding that Texas imperialistic cowboy vigilante justice is how we should be portraying America to the rest of the world?
Ashcroft created a system in which suspects can be summarily identified as "enemy combatants," held indefinitely without charges being filed, their names not released to the public, and their rights to attorneys abridged. His belief in secret tribunals is more a philosophy of King Henry VIII (and now America's George III - the first one seemed to tower well above the next two) than Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He also has whittled the U.S.A Patriot Act to allow the government to violate numerous other civil rights.
A federal district court has finally ruled that the government was wrong to detain people and refuse to release their names. Even if the Department of Justice appeals, and all the appeals are denied, Ashcroft and President Bush still got almost 10 months of freedom to violate the freedom of others.
This, of course, is similar to the programs that helped fuel the Nazi Party's dominance before World war II, the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s, and which led the FBI and other agencies to keep maliciously false records against anti-war and civil rights leaders during the 1960s.
Only under intense pressure from senators of both major parties did Ashcroft finally back down and say he didn't really mean all that stuff he said about amateur spies. He now believes the government should only record complaints, not keep a database that could haunt Americans for decades. ("My neighbor was seen coming home drunk late at night - I think he was up to no good. Could be a terrorist.") Yeah, it's "tips" all right -- the tip of an iceberg that would further destroy civil liberties.
Nevertheless, by a 215-189 vote, with 25 Republicans in the majority, the House of Representatives voted to establish an independent 10-member bipartisan commission. Bush claims the commission would "cause a further diversion of essential personnel from their duties fighting the war."
It's a nice piece of rhetoric, one that serves only to make people believe that a government has no responsibility to be honest with its people, only 47.9 percent of whom actually voted for the President, a half-percent less than those who voted for Al Gore.
However, the latest numbers, combined with public opinion, may be the most important. Sales of existing homes in a declining economy plunged 11.7 percent in June, and first time unemployment claims in July were 362,000. Equally important, according to a Gallup poll, 45 percent of all Americans say they are worse off financially than they were a year ago. Only 32 percent, the lowest in 10 years - count back to the beginning of the Clinton administration? - say they are better off.
President Bush's high popularity ratings are an illusionary bubble created by the desire of Americans of all political views, and social and economic classes, to unite against a common enemy; it should not be seen as support for the man, but for the country and the Presidency itself.
But even the most naive observer has to know that President Bush has no desire to be "flexible," and has every desire to destroy worker rights while skirting official governmental policies that advocate collective bargaining. Perhaps Bush needs to reflect that almost every firefighter, every police and port authority officer, and every emergency medical service worker who responded with courage and heroism to the events at the World Trade Center not only was protected by civil service rules but was also a member of a union.
Americans' confidence in American business is at one of its lowest levels, leading the stock market to drop faster than a bumble-fingered juggler. Although Bush mouthed the words others had to write for him to rant against corporate greed, he still believes in privatization of social security funds. But try finding any elected Republican today who will say anything positive about investing social security funds in the stock market.
If it was such a good idea two years ago, why isn't it such a good idea today?