Monday, December 10, 2007

How Bush is Different From Every Other Worst President Ever!

Since 1948, historians and lay folk have ranked US Presidents. At various times, Nixon and Andrew Johnson have topped the list. Now, the game is over. The decision is in. The very worst President in American history is George W. Bush. Alone among "worst" Presidents, Bush has tried to overthrow and subvert the government of our Constitution and replace it with a dictatorship in which both courts and legislature --if either are to exist at all --are expected merely to kowtow to his wishes.

At the same time, the rights of habeas corpus and due process so carefully crafted by James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution", are wiped away with an imperious decision. If because you oppose Bush, you are declared either a traitor or a terrorist, you may be imprisoned without trial, denied the right of counsel, a phone call, or the right to defend yourself against the charges. You may be tortured. You may be held indefinitely. You may be executed! Who would know? For centuries, this kind of high-handed rule by decree has been called tyranny. I call it tyranny now and I accuse Bush of high treason, capital crimes and subversion.
Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." In fact, roughly one in ten of those who called Bush a success was being facetious, rating him only as the best president since Bill Clinton -- a category in which Bush is the only contestant.

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No previous president appears to have squandered the public's trust more than Bush has. In the 1840s, President James Polk gained a reputation for deviousness over his alleged manufacturing of the war with Mexico and his supposedly covert pro-slavery views. Abraham Lincoln, then an Illinois congressman, virtually labeled Polk a liar when he called him, from the floor of the House, "a bewildered, confounded and miserably perplexed man" and denounced the war as "from beginning to end, the sheerest deception." But the swift American victory in the war, Polk's decision to stick by his pledge to serve only one term and his sudden death shortly after leaving office spared him the ignominy over slavery that befell his successors in the 1850s. With more than two years to go in Bush's second term and no swift victory in sight, Bush's reputation will probably have no such reprieve..

--The Worst President in History?, One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush, Sean Wilentz, Rolling Stone

Nixon is remembered for abuses of executive power and his outright disdain for the Constitutional "separation of powers". Like Bush, Nixon equated dissent with treason and considered critics to be threats to national security. He spied on US citizens, pried into income tax returns and considered himself above the law: "if the President does it, it is not illegal". Nevertheless, his assaults on the Constitution pale beside those of Bush. If Bush's various treasons are allowed to stand, he will have rendered the Constitution moot and the United States of its creation destroyed, perhaps forever. Nixon never came close, primarily because Nixon was courageously opposed by the media, the Congress and the courts. Where are those real "patriots" now? Where is courage? Where is outrage?
That he lied about Iraq’s ‘threat’ to the United States is no unsubstantiated allegation. The recently revealed “Downing Street Memo” is the report of Britain’s’ intelligence chief made to Prime Minister Blair about his trip to the United States eight months before the war in Iraq began, long before it was publicly considered.

The memo makes clear that deception and the fitting of facts to serve a military agenda was a high priority for the Bush administration. (‘C’ in the following is Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service — MI 6 — who had just returned from meetings in Washington.) “C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Let us be blunt. Basing a war on ‘fixed’ evidence is a high crime, a betrayal of the trust of the nation’s citizens. In the United States, it is grounds for impeaching the president and removing him from office.

--Huck Gutman, The Worst US President Ever?

It is interesting that "worst" Presidents always seem connected in some way with the lingering consequences of slavery. Bush's base of support is not merely the south; demographically, it's base is found in the "disaffected" south, the south that felt persecuted by an admittedly harsh and reactionary re-construction. But it is also the "south" that would never have abolished slavery short of Civil War.

Nixon, for example, is remembered for his "Southern Strategy", an exploitation of bigotry if not an outright appeal to it. What had been a Democratic south (the south had hated Lincoln) has been solid "red" since the sixties. There is even some credence given the opinion that the rest of the US would have been better off if the south had gone its own way. That position, however, does not wash Northern hands of the crime of slavery, a crime against humanity if there ever was one.
The American political system has long used different groups and issues to divide people into an "us" and a "them." The reason America remains, and has always been, a two-political-party country is that we prefer our beliefs as simple duality—black white, good bad, us them. On every issue from slavery to communism to abortion, Americans have preferred to fight rather than to compromise. Sometimes, as with slavery, this is the correct choice. Sometimes, as with the issue of abortion, the American political path makes it too easy to tear each other apart and never resolve anything.

The truth about Wallace using race as a dividing tool is that he was simply being true to the nature of the American political system.

Being on the receiving end of school-yard politics is shit. I, along with every other recipient of a bully's pain, take a certain joy when the bully finally gets theirs. I heard a friend talking about Frank the other day—Frank is now even fatter, along with being divorced and stuck in a dead-end job. I won't lie and say I didn't smile at that.

When Wallace was shot, how many people saw that as just payment for his sins?

But there is also something sad about Wallace. The other virulent race-baiters from those days, like Senator Strom Thurmond, have been rehabilitated and accepted. Not George Wallace. Even though he spoke at black churches and NAACP meetings in the two decades leading up to his death, seeking to bury his past with Christian atonement, people still saw him as he had been during the Civil Rights era. The fact that Wallace said he didn't want to meet his maker with his sins unforgiven just didn't matter to most people.

--Jason Sanford, Weeping for Wallace: George Wallace, school-yard bullies, and how we're all living with the politics of the new south

Bush has taken his disdain for law much further than Nixon. The Washington Post wrote recently that Bush sought "...to strip people accused of crimes of rights that date as far back as the Magna Carta". Bush, in fact, arrogated unto himself the right to declare anyone opposing him an "enemy combatant -- two words which deprive you of the right to be told what you have been charged with, the right to retain defense counsel, the right to a "speedy trial" by an impartial jury of one's peers.

Bush's treatment of prisoners of war have disgraced the US and alienated the world which now sees the US as a rogue nation, a banana republic, a fascist dictatorship. As Bush is owned by large corporate support and those corporate interests that make up the Military/Industrial complex, the charge is absolutely, irrefutably true. The US, under Bush, has become a fascist dictatorship. Live with it or change it!

It was not Nixon who blazed the trail for Bush. It was Ronald Reagan, who managed to sugar coat tyranny and make incipient goppers feel good about being jingos, narrow mindeded bigots, fascists and/or militarists. Ronald Reagan put an elderly, kindly smiley face on government incompetence and criminality. The reality was worse. Perverts ran a child prostitution ring right out of the White House. A program of endemic treason, Iran/Contra armed avowed enemies as well as right wing terrorists. Not surprisingly, terrorism was worse under Reagan than under any Democratic administration since WWII. Terrorism is always worse under GOP regimes.
Ronald Reagan clearly has become the sort of polarizing figure that Franklin Roosevelt was for an earlier generation—or, perhaps a better way to understand the phenomenon is that Reagan has become the personification of the pole opposite to Roosevelt. That polarization is evident in historians’ evaluations of George W. Bush’s presidency. “If one believes Bush is a ‘good’ president (or great),” one poll respondent noted, he or she “would necessarily also believe Reagan to be a pretty good president.” They also tend to despise Roosevelt. “There is no indication,” one historian said of Bush, “that he has advisors who are closet communist traitors as FDR had. Based on his record to date, history is likely to judge him as one of America’s greatest presidents, in the tradition of Washington and Lincoln.”

--History News Network, Historians vs. George W. Bush

Bush claims the right to ignore those parts of the law with which he disagrees. He rules by decree. He exploits the fatal flaw in the US political system. The Supreme Court has typically given "Presidents" a free hand in the conduct of national defense, particularly in times of "war", a flaw merely waiting to be exploited by a demagogue, a would-be Buzz Windrip!

Bush would manufacture a phony war on terrorism and, in the period of panic that followed, the would ram through the Congress his own "enabling act", given the Orwellian monicker: Patriot Act. In rare cases, the court's have, at last, rebuked Bush's policies with regard to the treatment of "detainees" --another Orwellian euphemism for "Bush kidnap victims". The court has, at least, indicated how far the criminal Bush administration has subverted the very rule of law. Among numerous "worst Presidents", Bush alone tried to destroy the United States of America and succeeded.









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