A Bully for President
With his latest veto of SCHIP and threatened vetoes of virtually everything else, no matter how worthy, President Bush is in the process of rubbing America’s nose in the dirt. And he doesn’t care what Americans think about it. This is all about him and his ego.
The President and his Republican Party fully understand that as long as impeachment is off the table – or even the willingness to seriously confront the President’s abuse of the Constitution — there is nothing a slim Democratic majority in Congress can do. They are dealing with an irresponsible, out of control bully, and unless they’re willing to take him down at some unknown risk to the country, there’s nothing they can do except give in to the spoiled bully’s demands. We are all hostages to that framework, and there’s no point denying it. All serious discussion should start from there.
Early Wednesday, the President vetoed SCHIP for the second time, a bipartisan bill to provide health coverage to nearly 4 million children who now live without health insurance. The numbers — an additional $35 billion — are not important, because this was not about the dollars, the costs to society of not caring for its own children, the numbers left insured or even whether a handful of deserving adults might actually have benefitted too. For the President, this was all about proving that he could force Congress to accept his demands and frustrate the Democrats in Congress.
But no Democrats in Congress will suffer from the President’s veto. They, like the President, his family, every member of the White House and the Vice President’s Office and their families are all covered by government sponsored and paid for health coverage — all paid for by the American tax payers. Only uninsured children and their families will be harmed by the President’s veto.
In addition to Wednesday’s veto, the President is threatening to veto Congress’ efforts to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax. If the Congress tries to replace any of the lost tax revenues — about $50 billion next year alone — by removing tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, including those who shelter their wealth offshore, the President will veto the bill. He’ll punish the whole country to protect tax avoidance by the wealthy, just to prove he can.
And then he’ll veto the aggregate spending bills now struggling towards Congressional approval. And he’ll demand that he get every dollar he insisted on for war, and without strings. And because he demands it, and Congress will not confront this bullying, he will likely get it.
We face the same outrage on issue after issue, from the Iraq occupation, to detainee treatment and torture, to illegal spying, to the Administration’s refusal to join with other nations to set limits on global warming emissions. George Bush will have it his way, or no way.
It’s all being played out as a "partisan" fight between Congressional Democrats and Republicans, or a fight over alternative views of fiscal or economic policy, as though this is just normal "politics." But make no mistake about it, this is not normal politics nor does it have anything to do with debates about public policy.
We have a deeply unpopular President, a flawed man in a failed Presidency, perhaps the worst in our history. And we’re stuck with this spoiled, arrogant bully for President, a man who’s now putting his personal ego before the national interest, and who’s intent on running the country into a ditch, just to prove he can.