Editorial – Shouldn’t the Words and Music Go Together?
By Bernard Levy
Let’s begin with the Bush Administration and some fun stuff. Bush wants to be a leader on human rights, but it’s clear that few nations are inclined to follow his lead. When President Bush most recently addressed the UN, he received an even more lukewarm response to his messages than he did five years ago. He apparently believes that whenever he speaks, he is presenting a very important message and people should heed what he says. But, let’s look at his words and actions. On Monday, October 23, 2006, Associated Press writer Deb Reichmann noted in an article that, “The Bush administration is saying it has no plans for radical shifts in the Iraqi war policy or for ultimatums to the Iraqi government despite election-year pressure to change course.” This was two weeks before the elections. Yet, immediately after the elections, wouldn’t you know it; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, “architect of the unpopular war in Iraq,” was fired, and President Bush announced his replacement within hours of the firing. Robert Gates, a former head of the CIA, is his replacement, and the winds of a definite change of Iraq war strategy are blowing.
The above is but one example of the great variance between President Bush’s words and actions. If a child sufficiently tells his parents that he has done a and b, and the parents discover that the child has not done either, it is the parents’ duty to take action to bring into compliance sonny’s words and actions.
The FCP views the American public as the collective parent and President Bush as the child. This is entirely contrary to President Bush’s viewpoint. After six generals, who had served under Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, called for Rumsfeld’s resignation, John W. Dean in his April 21, 2006 online FindLaw Legal Commentary noted that, “Bush simply told reporters in the Rose Garden that Rumsfeld would stay because ‘I’m the decider and I decide what’s best.’ He (Mr. Bush) sounded much like a parent telling children how things would be: ‘I’m the daddy, that’s why.’ ”
We agree with President Bush that he is the leader of the executive branch of the federal government. However, his power in that leadership role is not unfettered, and it is not limitless. He must be held accountable for his decisions and the actions resulting from those decisions.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice represents another child whose words and actions differ. In early October, 2006, shortly after Bob Woodward’s book on the Bush administration, “State of Denial,” hit the streets, she disputed being forewarned of the 9/11 attacks. We don’t believe her protestation because she stated that she “did not remember the emergency meeting with Tenant (George Tenant, then CIA Director) on July 10.” That meeting, by all accounts, was an important briefing and did take place.
Recently, Ms. Rice discussed the issue of the serious decline of press freedom in Russia with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There’s no doubt about it; Putin is reverting to the prior policies of Russian leaders in repressing dissident groups and voices. But, as President Bush’s message was basically ignored at the UN, Ms. Rice’s concerns fell upon deaf Russian ears. Her effort to promote the American way of life and the right in an open democracy for dissent differs from her own administration’s actions in putting on hold those basic civil liberties and rights guaranteed us by our Constitution.
A recent article by William C. Mann of The Associated Press noted that, “Rice said, ‘President George W. Bush has promised that we will certainly make adjustments to our policy in Iraq’ (and) ‘we will certainly look to new ideas’ … ‘but the American commitment to the goals that took us to Iraq remain absolutely steadfast, and that is what is important.’ ” She didn’t use the words “stay the course,” but the message was clear. However, the appointment of Robert Gates and his statement that he favors meeting with Iran to help resolve the current Iraqi crisis is totally contrary to President Bush’s and Secretary Rice’s continuing positions. Our Secretary of State seems to be out of the loop and her words are not only meaningless but purely political posturing. And, the world community knows it.
If only Shakespeare were alive today, he’d have a field day with the comedies and tragedies taking place in Washington, D.C. For instance, an Associated Press article published in late September, 2006, noted that “convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s billing records and emails listed 485 lobbying contacts with White House officials over three years, including 10 with top Bush administration Karl Rove, according to a Congressional report obtained Thursday.” True, not all the contacts were successful but, on balance, 485 contacts mean something; he clearly was led to believe that he had an entrance into the White House unless he was “the mother of all lobbing pests.”
Finally, for the readers that didn’t understand the importance of President Bush’s use of signing statements or the overwhelming use of such statements and their clearly questionable constitutionality, I refer you to John W. Dean’s article in the July 14, 2006 edition of the online FindLaw Legal News and Commentary column. The link is http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20060714.html. For those younger readers, John Dean was the White House counsel in the Nixon administration who served prison time for his misdoings relating to the Watergate scandal. He served his time, totally cleaned up his act, and is an excellent political and legal commentator; he knows his “stuff.”
Specifically, to quote just a small portion of his article, signing statements are “technically … are statements by the President accompanying his signing of legislation. In this Administration, however, signing statements have been used as a dodgy practice of telling the Congress to go to hell. Rather than vetoing bills, Bush has issued vague statements to try to cut them off at the knees, even as he purports to give them legs. These statements say, in essence, that he may or may not enforce this or that provision of a given law, depending on whether he thinks the provision is unconstitutional.” I encourage you to read Dean’s columns in FindLaw.
Regarding Bush’s exaggerated use of signing statements, there’s some disagreement as to how many signing statements he’s issued, but “in over six years in office, Bush has not vetoed a single bill.” His use of signing statements far exceeds the use by any other president.
I love this country and have been taught to honor and respect our Constitution. Obviously, President Bush never learned to do so, even though he took an oath to uphold all laws, including the Constitution. How can he flaunt the laws – not recognizing legislation passed by Congress that he signed into law – and expect people to obey the law and follow his leadership? And now, you know the rest of the story why, when Mr. Bush speaks, the world community doesn’t listen. The words and the music don’t go together.