Less than one month before the November congressional elections, the Great Scriptwriter in the Sky directed Republicans to stage a disruptive sex scandal–for the benefit of the Democrats.
Mark Foley, a Florida Republican stalwart sent lurid emails to underage pages. House Speaker Dennis Hastert apparently ignored warnings given to him in 2003 by Kirk Fordham, a senior aide. Fordham said he alerted Hastert’s office about “worrisome conduct by Rep. Mark Foley toward teenage pages long before officials have acknowledged becoming aware of the issue.” (AP Oct 4) Subsequently, Hastert got other warnings from House Republicans. This information conflicts with the Speaker’s “shocked” response when ABC first published evidence of Foley’s “classical” form of older man-young boy relationship.
As scandal news spread, Democrats called on Hastert to resign. A desperate Hastert turned to his trusted constituency. He made appearances on the Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other right wing talk shows. The former wrestling coach, however, gave bad radio: one-word answers and unconvincing denials.
The Enquirer will feature salacious headline. Millions of supermarket customers will read them while waiting to have their groceries checked. Add to pedophilia on the internet, the less sexy bribery convictions of Republican Congressmen Randy “Duke” Cunningham ( of California) and Robert Ney (of Ohio). Spice the mix with Jack Abramoff’s offering dirty money to buy from Republicans sleazy favors for sleazy clients (ranging from gamblers to sweat shop owners). Hey, the Democrats have a good chance to win back the House!
Candidates in really close races could even refer to the Iraq War and Bush’s supposed war on terrorism as well. Bush has protected known terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch who co-authored the sabotage of a Cuban airliner blown up over Barbados in October 1976. Seventy-three passengers and crew members died. Bosch continues to plot terrorism in Cuba as he recently told a reporter–in between visits to his proctologist and gerontologist.
Posada, who also conspired to bomb Cuban tourists sites in the 1990s, one of which resulted in the killing of an Italian tourist, remains in a U.S. jail for “illegal entry”–not terrorism. The Justice Department has thus far not filed serous charges against him and has refused Venezuela’s extradition request.
In five years, Bush’s much trumpeted war on terrorism — can you picture terrorism surrendering? — has yet to result in the conviction of a Guantanamo inmate. Bush has, nevertheless, demanded and gotten congressional authorization to abandon Constitutional guarantees, including some that date back to the Magna Carta. Congress also gave him permission to torture as well. None of this has helped him with his terrorist war, but he does label the Democrats who opposed these fascist measures “weak.”
Will congressional candidates also highlight Bush-Cheney lies and distortions about reasons for going to war and “staying the course?” Bob Woodward’s new book State of Denial presents a portrait of the White House top staff in a state of doubt and despair while the President paints himself publicly as steadfast and certain.
Democrats might point out similarities that Bush shares with Foley, whose House job was to protect children. The now ex Congressman who just admitted to being gay, reverted to ancient Greek forms of child “protection”–known as pederasty, Bush adapts a less ancient French practice called chicanery.
As the daily carnage in Iraq escalates–between October 1-4, 22 U.S. soldiers died and dozens more were wounded–Bush behaves as if he had a coherent victory strategy. Insurgent attacks have grown to some 800 a week, according to Woodward, but the increasingly huffy Bush, who ran away from even National Guard service, had the chutzpah to accuse his rivals of “cutting and running” instead of staying his disastrous course. (September 30 radio address)
Aspirant for an Illinois House seat Tammy Duckworth answered Bush’s “cut and run” speech on the Democrats’ radio response. The former helicopter pilot and army captain lost her legs in Iraq.
“I did not cut and run,” she replied to Bush. “Like so many others, I proudly fought and sacrificed.” Duckworth criticized Republicans in Congress for failing to hold the Bush administration accountable for his Iraq policy. “We need a Congress that will ask the tough questions, and work together for solutions, rather than attacking the patriotism of those who disagree,” she added.
After 9/11, Bush has repeatedly referred to himself as a war time president. He extolled sacrifice–for others. Bush should make the Guinness Record book for most vacationing president in history. In response to White House charges of their being weak, Democrats could show photos of Bush on holiday at his Crawford ranch for five days while bodies floated through the flooded streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck. Then cut to shots of Bush leisurely reading “My Pet Goat” for seven minutes to Florida second graders after an aide had informed him a hijacked jet hit the World Trade Center.
The Democrats have yet to rub Bush’s and Cheney’s faces in the panoply of public evidence of their deception; nor have they forced Republican candidates to confront the Party’s role in Jack Abramoff’s bribery schemes. Indeed, the President has set his theme — his reputed strength versus Democratic weakness — for the November congressional elections. Despite his low poll numbers, Bush confidently states that he and his Party stand for toughness against terrorism while his opponents are possibly traitors. He even had the cheek to try to sell the public on the idea that his critics are “buying into enemy propaganda.”
“You do not create terrorism by fighting terrorism,” Bush lectured the Reserve Officers Association in Washington. “If that ever becomes the mindset of the policymakers in Washington, it means we will go back to the old days of waiting to be attacked and then respond.” (Douglas Stanglin, USA Today, 9/29/06)
Bush, whose then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had ample warning about the 9/11 attack and did nothing to avert it, picked a military audience to deliver his severe warning. Don’t believe the critics, Bush demanded. He didn’t quite know how to explain a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) from his own Administration that concluded that fighting the war in Iraq has made America less safe. Someone leaked the NIE to the New York Times. Following that, Bush declassified portions of the report.
The idea that the Iraq War had served as a base for jihadists to recruit ever more members, he insisted, came from a misreading of the classified NIE on the war against terrorism. Pretending he had actually read the document, Bush claimed that “some of them selectively quoted from the document to make the case that by fighting terrorists, by fighting them in Iraq, we are making people less secure here at home. This argument buys into the enemy’s propaganda that the terrorists attack us because we’re provoking them.”
“Their war against us,” Bush averred, “is because they hate the very thing that America stands for,” he said. “And we stand for freedom.” He repeats the word, but each “fighting terrorism” act strips away traditional freedoms. Bush can now order the indefinite detention of any U.S. citizen, resident alien or foreign national in a military prison either in the U.S. soil or abroad. Arrested persons have no recourse to the courts or lawyers. Torturers can descend on them as well, just because Bush or his underlings decided to arrest him. On this issue, the Democrats did not stand tall and filibuster in the Senate or demand extensive hearings. This is the real test of what Bush called the “ideological struggle of the 21st century.”
What does Bush mean by freedom, if it doesn’t include the most traditional rights? He has seriously reduced civil liberties at home and made hideous messes abroad. Bush claims it’s worth the blood and destruction because Iraq and Afghanistan have democracy now. In reality, other than thus far meaningless elections and a U.S.-guarded stock market, Iraq and Afghanistan have little to show for their freedom other than body counts, unemployment and non functional infrastructures.
Five years after the October 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban or rowdy war lords have recaptured much of the country. Newsweek labeled “Jihadistan,” the sanctuary that has emerged across thousands of miles of Afghan-Pakistan border land. This “autonomous quasi state of religious radicals, mostly belongs to Pashtun tribes who don’t recognize the Afghan-Pakistan frontier. [They] openly recruit young men to fight in Afghanistan, and they hold Islamic kangaroo courts that sometimes stage public executions.” (Newsweek, October 2, 2006)
Bush has no funds to invest for his promised Afghan reconstruction. He delivered “$67 a year per Afghan.” (Beth DeGrasse U.S. Institute of Peace)
Bush has given U.S. government wealth in the form of tax cuts to the already super wealthy. He refers to a nation sacrificing for war, while those who benefited from the war support his fiscal largesse. They make no sacrifices.
Bush the “uniter not divider” runs a nation more divided than at any time since the Civil War. Foley at least tried to unite his generation with the current crop of teens. But that’s not in the Democrats’ victory script, nor should it be.
In this “Whom do you believe” November congressional election campaign, the public must decide between the man God told to invade Iraq and the lying documents produced by his intelligence experts.
SAUL LANDAU’s new book, A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD, will be published by Counterpunch Press. He can be reached at: email@example.com