Can Republicans Put Country Before Party?
(guest blog by Taylor Marsh)
President George W. Bush is the Republican Party’s Vietnam.
When I interviewed John Dean about Abu Ghraib, his book had already gained steam. When I saw Senator Lindsay Graham so unabashedly ignorant as to the true history of Watergate during the recent Judiciary Committee hearings, taking the time to insult Mr. Dean, the situation in which we find ourselves today made so much sense. It’s as if the Republican Party has fallen into an abyss of political amnesia.
… The first fundamental question that needs to be answered by and about the president, the vice president, and their political and national-security aides, from Donald Rumsfeld to Condoleezza Rice, to Karl Rove, to Michael Chertoff, to Colin Powell, to George Tenet, to Paul Wolfowitz, to Andrew Card (and a dozen others), is whether lying, disinformation, misinformation, and manipulation of information have been a basic matter of policy—used to overwhelm dissent; to hide troublesome truths and inconvenient data from the press, public, and Congress; and to defend the president and his actions when he and they have gone awry or utterly failed.
Bush and Cheney have been hardly less succinct about the president’s duty and right to assume unprecedented authority nowhere specified in the Constitution. "[E]specially in the day and age we live in … the president of the United States needs to have his Constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national-security policy," Cheney said less than four months ago.
Bush’s doctrine of "unimpairment"—at one with his tendency to trim the truth—may be (with the question of his competence) the nub of the national nightmare. "I have the authority, both from the Constitution and the Congress, to undertake this vital program," Bush said after more than a few Republican and conservative eminences said he did not and joined the chorus of outrage about his N.S.A. domestic-surveillance program.
"Terrorism is not the only new danger of this era," noted George F. Will, the conservative columnist. "Another is the administration’s argument that because the president is commander in chief, he is the ‘sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs’ … [which] is refuted by the Constitution’s plain language, which empowers Congress to ratify treaties, declare war, fund and regulate military forces, and make laws ‘necessary and proper’ for the execution of all presidential powers." …
Senate Hearings on Bush, Now by Carl Bernstein
In Carl Bernstein’s Vanity Fair article, Bernstein makes the point that to really know the truth about what’s happening within our government, Republicans and Democrats must join together to ask tough questions of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and a host of other characters, including Dr. Condoleezza Rice. But can you imagine such a thing happening?
George W. Bush’s disapproval ratings are 10 points higher than Bill Clinton’s during the Monica Lewinsky imbroglio. That’s quite a feat. They’re set to go even lower if the war in Iraq doesn’t open out onto an Iraqi government of at least some legitimacy. The doubts about that happening have reached critical mass.
Some of us remember the Nixon impeachment hearings well. Others of you have read about them in detail. I was one of the first people to ask where are the Howard Bakers of the Republican Party? So, I find it ironic that in Bernstein’s article Senator Arlen Specter is quoted as saying: "’We ought to get to the bottom of it so it can be evaluated, again, by the American people,’ said Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on April 9. ‘[T]he President of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people … about exactly what he did.’"
If Senator Specter really believed the president owes the American people an explanation, maybe he wouldn’t have scheduled Senator Russ Feingold’s hearing on censure on a Friday. That’s not exactly a day to get full attendance. To my personal disgust, many Democrats didn’t even bother to show up. Friday is get away day and Specter knew it. His disingenuousness runs just shy of the deep hypocrisy in his statement.
What Bernstein suggests will not give any comfort to true Bush haters who want his head no matter how it’s gotten. Bernstein reminds us that the Senate Watergate Committee was created by a vote of 77-0 in the Senate. If an investigation into Bush, beyond censure and impeachment considerations, is to be conducted, Bernstein continues, "It must not be a fishing expedition…" That’s not likely to be possible. But Berstein makes a powerful case in his Vanity Fair piece that full investigations into the behavior of President Bush and his administration are not only important, but critical to our country.
The bottom line is that the Republican Party today is so weak, so ethically challenged, so lacking in morals and integrity that Republican members of Congress, Senate and House, are willing to go to any lengths to save George W. Bush, even if it means destroying this country, our reputation around the world, as well as the United States military that Bush, Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld use like slaves in a war that has no honorable way out, as if by design.
In Watergate, Republicans were the ones who finally told Richard Nixon, "Enough." They were the ones who cast the most critical votes for articles of impeachment, ensuring that Nixon would be judged with nonpartisan fairness. After the vote, the Republican congressional leadership—led by the great conservative senator Barry Goldwater—marched en masse to the White House to tell the criminal president that he had to go. And if he didn’t, the leadership would recommend his conviction in the Senate and urge all their Republican colleagues to do the same.
In the case of George W. Bush, important conservative and Republican voices have, finally, begun speaking out in the past few weeks. William F. Buckley Jr., founder of the modern conservative movement and, with Goldwater, perhaps its most revered figure, said last month: "It’s important that we acknowledge in the inner counsels of state that [the war in Iraq] has failed so that we should look for opportunities to cope with that failure." And "Mr. Bush is in the hands of a fortune that will be unremitting on the point of Iraq.… If he’d invented the Bill of Rights it wouldn’t get him out of this jam." And "The neoconservative hubris, which sort of assigns to America some kind of geo-strategic responsibility for maximizing democracy, overstretches the resources of a free country."
Even more scathing have been some officials who served in the White House under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush’s father. … (Carl Bernstein)
There was a time in this country when people, including our politicians, were capable of putting country before political party. In George W. Bush’s Republican Party, those days are gone.