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24 February 2005

Breaking the Camel's Back

Back when I was in high school, I occasionally listened to a nationally syndicated radio program called The Tom Leykis Show. Hopelessly crude and misogynistic, Leykis nonetheless was interesting when he got around to talking about serious issues. I can only remember two of these topics at the moment. One was a two hour discussion on banning smoking in public. The other concerned whether or not Susan Smith should receive the death penalty. (For those who don’t recall, Smith was the South Carolina woman who told police she had been carjacked by a black man, but who in fact had drowned her children in a lake. I still pride myself on knowing she was full of it from the very beginning.)

Leykis raised an interesting question during the Smith discussion. Though he himself was opposed to the death penalty, Leykis essentially asked, “If Smith doesn’t deserve the death penalty, well then, who does?” (Keep in mind, this was pre-Oklahoma City.) If you kill your small children, use the public’s racist mindset to distract from the truth, and if the judge and jury feel you don’t deserve death for your crimes, then who does deserve to be executed? What’s worse than that? What’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

I wonder the same thing about the public’s perception of George W. Bush. I really just don’t understand. Here is a guy who would be despised by most people in most circumstances. If George W. Bush were your co-worker, neighbor or second-cousin, you would hate his guts. Here’s a guy who spent his time in college as a drunken C-student frat boy. After graduating college, he didn’t have a real job until he was, what, nearly 40-years old? Before that, his daddy got him whatever he wanted or needed. Now he’s a smug, self-righteous man who does what he wants. To hell with consequences or logic. Sure, I’ve heard the I’d-rather-have-a-beer-with-George-Bush-than-John-Kerry rationale. But, seriously, is have-beer-worthyism really a leadership quality? If it is, this country is in more trouble than I thought.

What really gets to me, though, is the sheer scale of scandal and corruption found in the Bush White House. Let’s face it. Bush was dirty before he even got to the White House. Now his closet has more skeletons than you find in most graveyards. And it’s not just Bush. This Republican-controlled one party state of ours is wallowing in scandal.

Notes Salon’s Peter Dizikes:

Consider the raw materials of scandal that this administration has produced: False claims about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Torture in Abu Ghraib. The virtually treasonous exposure of a CIA agent by White House officials. And those are just the best-known examples.

After all, how many citizens can name all the ongoing investigations of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's old firm? Who remembers that the administration illicitly diverted $700 million from Afghanistan to Iraq? Or that, on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans stole strategy memos from Democrats, while a House Republican said he was offered a bribe during a crucial vote? Even a conscientious citizen cannot be expected to keep score, so Salon has compiled a list.

If the next four years of Bush and the GOP running the federal government are anything like the previous four, however, potential scandals will lead to few political consequences for the Republicans. Bush opponents will likely be disappointed if they are waiting for a renewal of the supposed "second-term scandal jinx" dogging Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Clinton.

Indeed, Dizikes has compiled a list of 34 scandals that can be laid directly at the feed of Republicans. Some are specific to the Bush White House. Others are more general. But it’s a pretty damning list, one which should be examined thoroughly.

So what have we got? American soldiers sodomizing prisoners with lightbulbs? Yup. White House officials disclosing the identity of a CIA operative, an act of treason? Yup. A war based on false pretenses, an act which is both a felony and an impeachable offense? Yup. Bush shirking his National Guard duties? Yup. Indeed, Bush being eligible for the National Guard at all? Yup. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s conflicts of interest regarding Dick Cheney’s energy task force? Yup. John Ashcroft’s illegal campaign contributions? Blatant lies about unclean air at Ground Zero? Conservative commentators paid to promote Bush policies? Wiretapping the United Nations? Halliburton business dealings with Iran while Dick Cheney was CEO? No-bid Halliburton contracts in Iraq? Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup.

And that’s just, for the most part, the past four years. What about Bush getting off the hook for insider trading with a little help from daddy? What about Bush ties to the Bin Laden family? What about those 90,000+ Florida voters (half of them African Americans) who were illegally removed from voter rolls?

If this sort of stuff happened in other countries, what do you think would happen? I’m no expert on world politics, but I suspect it would involve leaders swinging from trees and cars being overturned in streets. I suspect it would involve society voluntarily shutting itself down until the despots were removed from power. Are we really this self-medicated on the Ritalin of American Idol and Desperate Housewives? Where is the outrage? Clinton was impeached for, what was it again, oral sex?

So I guess my question, then, is the same one Leykis posed. At what point is this camel’s back going to break? How much more straw can this poor dromedary hold? What else can BushCo possibly get away with? What will it take for us to stop calling this spade a paintbrush? Will we have to wait until AMERICAblog finds photos of Bush buggering Jeff Gannon? Are we really that apathetic?

Comments on "Breaking the Camel's Back"


Anonymous zalm said ... (2/25/2005 03:37:00 AM) : 

the more you look at governments in other countries, i think the more you'll find that this pales in comparison to some of the corruption certain leaders get away with.

that said, i think we've reached a point when the primacy of political parties has begun to eclipse whatever intergovernmental competition and checks and balances the founding fathers built into the constitution. and without divided government, any sort of congressional oversight has been incredibly muted.

this trend is something that i hope to write about one of these days.

i'm not sure i believe that everything listed in that salon article really has teeth. there were certainly more than a few clinton-era "scandals" that had little to no basis. but with a list like that, you've gotta think that there's a shoe somewhere that's waiting to drop. we'll have to see what happens if and when it does. then again, nixon, reagan and clinton all faced opposition congresses during their second terms. so maybe not much will happen.


Blogger ding said ... (2/28/2005 10:15:00 AM) : 

re: the shoe dropping

but who's gonna be under the shoe when it drops?


Blogger Benjamin said ... (3/01/2005 04:59:00 PM) : 

Then it wasn't the sex, it was the lying.

Now it isn't the sex or the lying, it's just the sound of a thousand crickets chirping.


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