Bush a ‘brazen, catastrophic disgrace’
George Bush promotes the false idea that he’s commander-in-chief of the whole nation, but he’s nothing of the sort. According to the Constitution, he is commander-in-chief only of our armed forces.
We are a nation of citizens, not military personnel, and our military is subordinate to the civilian, unfortunate as that arrangement has been under Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.
Citizens, in contrast to military personnel, have the right to dissent from the president and cannot be court-martialed for doing so. Mark Twain said, ‘Loyalty to country always, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.’ Teddy Roosevelt was even more pointed: ‘ … that there must be no criticism of the President, that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.’
Bush has admitted, ‘If this [our system] were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier ‘ just so long as I’m the dictator.’ And a dictatorship is exactly what he has tried to impose on our system with his ‘unitary executive,’ his signing statements, his torture, his spying and his assault even on our habeas-corpus rights. Maybe such a push follows naturally from his notion that ‘God wants me to be president.’ Some of the religious fundamentalists he hired to politicize the justice department testified to Congress that they thought their loyalty was supposed to be to the president. They had to be reminded that their oath and loyalty were to the Constitution, not to Bush.
Given Bush’s across-the-board incompetence and his catastrophic blunders, it is easy to see why he wants to make the commander-in-chief role include the whole nation instead of just the armed forces. Not only does it protect him from criticism by making dissent appear unpatriotic, but it also helps identify himself with what the country has let our military become. Consider this comment from Andrew Bacevich’s ‘The New American Militarism’: ‘Today, as never before … Americans are enthralled with military power. The global military supremacy that the U.S. presently enjoys ‘ and is bent on perpetuating ‘ has become central to our national identity. More than America’s matchless abundance or even the effusions of its pop culture, the nation’s arsenal of high-tech weaponry and the soldiers who employ that arsenal have come to signify who we are and what we stand for.’ And one might add, unfortunately, that our military might stand for more even than the promise of our ideals of liberty, equality and justice for all. Being commander-in-chief with its military suggestiveness lets Bush play into what has unfortunately come to be our national identity.
Remember how Bush, the prep-school, frat-boy cheerleader who bugged out of service in Vietnam, swaggered across the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in a flight suit, saluting and swelling prematurely with his boast of Mission Accomplished? Contrast that show with what Ike had to say about being honored as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe: ‘Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends … He may have given everything of his heart and mind to meet the spiritual and physical needs of his comrades … Still [he] would sadly face the fact that his honors cannot hide in his memories the crosses marking the resting places of the dead. They cannot soothe the anguish of the widow or the orphan whose husband or father will not return.’
Humility? Giving everything in his heart and mind to the needs of his troops? Not Bush. He didn’t even plan well enough to give them the equipment they needed. He asked them to serve tour after tour to the breaking point. When they were wounded, he turned them over to shabby for-profit, privatized care and when they made the ultimate sacrifice, he brought their coffins surreptitiously home. And all the while he asked nothing in the way of sacrifice from himself (except a game or two of golf), nothing from his family or the ideologue warriors who whooped him on to his war of choice, and nothing ‘ except campaign contributions ‘ from the cronies who profiteered from his war.
Clinton was shameful enough, but George Bush is a brazen, catastrophic disgrace because of the millions of lives he has ruined and cut short, and he remains a continuing danger because he persists in destroying the promise this country could be for the future of the planet.
On top of it all, Bush has ordered up a plan giving him the power to lead, not just the executive branch, but the entire federal government in ‘ensuring constitutional government’ in the event of a ‘catastrophic emergency,’ the definition of which is left up to him. In such an ’emergency,’ he will truly be commander-in-chief of everything.
Bush in charge of ‘ensuring constitutional government’? Not bloody likely in the light of what we’ve seen Bush and Cheney do with presidential powers that according to the Constitution are supposed to be checked and balanced by the Congress and the courts.
In backing Bush, the Republicans have a lot to answer for, but honesty requires us to admit that we’ve all been his enablers.
Charles Allen resides in Corydon.