Whatever happened to subtlety and discretion in politics? President Bush’s administration seems to have completely lost the ability to camouflage the fact that their policies come straight from their personal prejudices, opinions, and whims. You can find three separate examples just by looking in this week’s papers.
First, of course, the war in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan seems to me to be a clear and appropriate result of Al Qaida’s attack on our nation. There’s really no question that they received substantial support from Afghanistan. It is unfortunate that we haven’t caught Osama, but we’ve clearly damaged that source of support, and we certainly had sufficient cause to do so. The war in Iraq, though, has only the slimmest of theoretical connections to the “War on Terror.” There’s not a lot of solid proof that Saddam was directly supporting Al Qaida, and the whole issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction seems to have been an error. I do feel that we’ve accomplished a good thing over there, and I CERTAINLY believe that we have to finish what we started. But I can easily imagine the real beginnings in a conversation between President Bush and his advisors…”Dick, Don, Condi…Dad left something unfinished over there. It wasn’t his fault; our allies just couldn’t handle us taking that Iraqi nutcase all the way out. But I think we’ve got an opportunity to fix that, now. Get out there and find me the proof that he’s supporting terrorists and making chemical weapons, so we’ll have a reason to stop him. Oh, and Don, while we’re waiting, get your boys to work up some plans and options for us to go in.” And so we did. Not because Saddam was a real threat to us, but because his continued reign was an ongoing insult to the Bush Family.
More recently, the Judith Miller debacle is just beyond my understanding. She didn’t expose Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA agent to the public – that was Robert Novak. She didn’t publish anything about it. She apparently got into the whole Plame issue pretty late in the game. And yet she was bullied into revealing her source through a contempt of court citation. I’m neither a lawyer nor a judge, but that sure seems like a violation of the First Amendment to me. We already knew Karl Rove was one major source for the leak. Now that Ms. Miller has finally given in, we know that Vice-President Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis Libby was the second major source. The Administration’s insistence on persecuting Ms. Miller very much seems to be an attempt to shift the blame away from the Administration officials who leaked the information in the first place!
And now, apparently, the Federal Government is trying to take away the right of the people and of the States to make their own decisions. Oregon’s voters have determined that Assisted Suicide should be legal. There are stringent requirements that must be met before the doctor can prescribe the fatal overdose of barbiturates, but if the patient is determined, the doctor will help him take his own life. Apparently, though, that offends the “pro-life” sensibilities of the President and his staff. Again, I can almost hear the conversation…”Gang, we’ve got to put a stop to this. We all know suicide is wrong, we’ve been taught that in Sunday School since we were kids. There’s got to be some way to override this law. Ashcroft, they’re using drugs to do it, so maybe you can come up with something.” And so he did – suicide is apparently not an approved medical use for barbiturates. That argument makes a superficial sort of sense, but is transparently an excuse to override the clearly expressed intent of the people of the State of Oregon in a situation that falls under the powers reserved for the States under the U. S. Constitution. (Those of you who don’t remember your Government classes…the Federal Government was given specific powers in the Constitution. Any power not specifically granted to the Feds was reserved for the States.) Whether you support Oregon’s law or not, I hope you can see the horrible precedent that could be set here.
I realize that it is only to be expected that a President’s personal values will affect his decisions. I just wish he could be subtle enough to let us pretend he’s an objective decision-maker, rather than an emotional hothead ready to do whatever it takes to make his dreams a reality.