Monday, May 10, 2004

Debt of gratitude

I commented a couple of days ago about Rumsfeld tarring the critics of torture with his own pragmatic amorality. I didn’t really expect the same from the Rev. Dubya, but: “Those responsible for these abuses have caused harm that goes well beyond the walls of a prison. It has given some an excuse to question our cause and to cast doubt on our motives.” An “excuse?”

Bush has clearly decided to keep Rumsfeld, praising him before journos. “Our nation owes you a debt of gratitude,” he said. Uh, yeah, the check is in the mail. Another example of Bush inflexibility creating a no-win situation. In office, Rumsfeld is damaged and damaging. But throw him out, and look weak and faltering. Either decision calls into doubt Bush’s judgment, which it wouldn’t if he were capable of even hinting that his judgment is less than god-like. Billmon notes that the decision to do, basically, nothing concrete to deal with the scandal means that the Bushies have to keep repeating how shocked, shocked, they are to find that gambling is going on, keeping the story going (and giving journalists the official permission they now seem to need to follow such stories) rather than downplaying it.

A letter in the WaPo suggests that the Pentagon’s request that CBS delay broadcasting the pictures was done because of the Supreme Court cases on indefinite detention of “enemy combatants,” depriving oral argument in those cases of some much-needed relationship to reality. The justices did ask what would prevent torture, and were told, “where the government is on a war footing, you have to trust the executive.”

Katherine Harris forgot to sign her absentee ballot in March’s local elections. Harris said she’s never had trouble before. “I know how important voting is.” clears up some of those nagging questions about responsibility (edited): “Here are some interesting facts about the President of the United States... 1) He is the President of the United States. 2) His job is to do the job that the President of the United States would do. ... He's not the National Brush-Clearer, he's not the Official Mascot of Sturdy American Manhood, and he's not a little kid you need to protect from mean partisan bullies. He's a grown man with all of the responsibilities of the President of the United States. ... A lot of people like Lindsey Graham are now complaining "oh, you just want to damage the President." That's not true, because it's impossible. Before I make up my mind about damaging a President, I want there to be a President. I want someone who is actually responsible for national policies and their successful execution. I have been led to understand that George W. Bush is handling this job these days, and often - when an aircraft carrier flight deck needs prancing on, for example, or when gay marriage threatens to rend the fabric of space time asunder - it appears that he may, indeed, be the President I am looking for. Sometimes, the signals are mixed, such as when he appeared in front of the 9/11 commission on the day the President of the United States was scheduled to testify, but had to be accompanied by Dick Cheney, who, as Vice-President of the United States, has been granted by the Constitution official responsibilities rivaling my own. And other times - times when things aren't going so well, usually - questions about what George Bush has done or is doing about things a President would be responsible for are met with scandalized protestations that we should not be politicizing the process. If George Bush is not, in fact, the President, he needs to stop squatting in the President's house.”

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