Monday, March 17, 2008

The Lamest Duck of All.

The phrase "lame duck" was originally used to describe an 18th Century London broker who couldn't pay his debts. In a more literal sense it refers to a bird who can no longer keep up with the flock, thus making it easy prey. Obviously we in America use it when talking about a politician in the last year of his/her term, with no chance of being re-elected. George W. Bush is a "lame duck". There are people all over the nation, and indeed throughout the world, that couldn't be happier that he has at last reached that status. Unfortunately this president has not been the type of leader to recognize the prevailing mood and/or will of "the people". Instead of aging gracefully, he's clamoring about trying to construct a legacy.

No doubt Dubya has already assured that he will be remembered for a long time. There is already plenty of discussion regarding his potential status as "Worst President of All Time". The 25% (or so) of America that still supports him is the vanguard in the fight to deny that label. They have an uphill battle, and Bush is not making it any easier for them. Right now he is in the midst of two important Congressional conflicts. He is trying to uphold his "right" to conduct warrant-less surveillance. And he is working to preserve his power to torture suspects in his War on Terror". These are not positions that many citizens would identify passionately with. But it doesn't matter to this Commander-in-Chief. After all, he is the "decider"!

It doesn't appear that George W. Bush has ever been all that concerned with the will of the people. His definition of democracy doesn't stretch wide enough to accommodate dissenting views. Throughout the past seven years I've occasionally wondered if his negative ratings have ever weighed heavily upon his esteem (or conscience). I've always come to the conclusion that they don't. But speculation on this matter isn't necessary- because he's spoken many times on the subject. Here are a few direct quotes:

"“If you’re sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign." George W Bush, Hilton Head, South Carolina, 16th February 2000.

"I've been in politics long enough to know that polls just go poof at times." --George W. Bush, Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007 .

"I don’t care what the polls say. I don’t. I’m doing what I think what’s wrong." George W Bush, New York Times, 15th March 2000.

I found those few statements after a three-minute Internet search. I'm sure I could fill up the entire page with more, expressing the exact same sentiments (albeit without the ridiculous gaffes). What it boils down to is that he doesn't care what you (or any of us lowly citizens) have to say. He's got his agenda, and he's sticking to it.

The problem with the surveillance bill is that Congress wants to refuse immunity to communications firms that broke the law at Bush's request. In other words he wants to protect his friends that flouted the US Constitution. But the subtext here is especially interesting, because Bush would be dragged into the courts to defend his role in these violations if this bill were passed. He's certainly not going to allow this to happen, and neither are the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile they will play the patriotism card. They will insist that the legislation be passed in order to "make America safe" from "terrorists". It wouldn't be in their best interests to reveal who they are really protecting.

What's especially ironic is that the surveillance bill was unnecessary in the first place. The executive branch already had the right to request a warrant retroactively, after eavesdropping on anybody that they so chose. Somehow that power was insufficient for their needs. And it's pretty obvious why that's the case. Just like under the current circumstances, the Bush Administration wants to be allowed to act on its agenda without ever having to answer for its activities. This is the American government that is finally above the law. This is the dictatorial leadership of the United States. Yet they have the gall to use the bludgeon of "Democracy"- not the philosophy, but the word itself in isolation of reality.

The same applies to Bush's resistance against a proposed prohibition of torture. It doesn't matter that such tactics contradict the banner of freedom under which he claims to fight. Civil rights don't apply to his enemies. This is (undeclared) war! There are no rules. And again the sycophants in Congress struggle to defend him. They want to know why we would give away "our play book". Why should we reassure al Qaeda that we practice what we preach- freedom and democracy? It doesn't matter that the prisoners might be innocent. The USA isn't going to take that chance. They will get their civil rights once they agree to bow down to us. Or maybe not. It depends if we're "safe enough". Be scared. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

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