Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Afraid of 'Big Bad W(olf)'

Commentary by Pat Murphy


Pat Murphy

Most members of the U.S. Senate and House and President Bush are part of an American minority—the 38 percent of the public who believe the commander in chief is doing a swell job.

How do we know most lawmakers approve of the Bush performance? Because most of them haven't uttered a worthwhile protest to expanding presidential misconduct that 60 percent of polled Americans reject.

The astonishing spectacle in Washington is that the second branch of government (legislative) and perhaps the third branch (federal courts) are unwilling to confront President Bush and his cronies about illegal and unethical and possible criminal conduct as well as incompetence that would get them fired anywhere else.

Lily-livered congressmen scattered like frightened, squalling geese when Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold proposed censure for the president for ordering domestic spying on Americans without required court warrants.

How much political courage does this take? Censure is the equivalent of an innocuous scolding by a second-grade teacher.

This current president's abuses of power and derelictions are without equal. Like another Texan of dubious scruples, Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War era, President Bush lied to justify war in Iraq.

As an added insult to constitutional government, Bush decisions are approved and defended by his longtime hack lawyer, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He's not the first attorney general to countenance misbehavior: Richard Nixon's AG, John Mitchell, went to prison for his hand in the Watergate burglary.

What Gonzales shrugs off runs the gamut—abandoning environment and public lands to polluters and plunderers; condoning torture by voiding Geneva Conventions protection of detainees; mortgaging U.S. credit of future generations with reckless debt; abusing constitutional law; tolerating incompetence and mismanagement and manipulating classified national intelligence facts for political gain.

As a final finger to Congress, Bush coldly announced he'd selectively ignore laws when he sees fit. Were Gonzales true to his professional code, he would've yelped at the notion of threatened lawbreaking.

This doesn't rate Bush's censure?

In his book, "My Life," Bill Clinton explained why he cheated with Monica Lewinsky—"because I could."

President Bush, too, does what he pleases—no one has the stomach to chasten him and he believes he's above the law.

As toxic as George W. Bush has been to democracy, the most reprehensible truants in this grubby Washington abuse of the public trust are federal judges and members of Congress who've deserted their watchdog responsibilities and given tacit license to President Bush's rogue government.

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