Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Here comes the post-accountable president

We’re fast approaching the exquisite awfulness of the anti-accountability moment, the Bush inauguration. Other blogs--I apologize to them for forgetting which--have noted that Laura Bush’s defense of the lavish, partying-on-the-Titanic celebrations in a time of war and tsunami tsuris (I still think the crime against common decency was in continuing to fund-raise for this thing after the tsunami hit), her assertion that the inauguration is never cancelled, mistook the parties afterward, which are often muted, for the inauguration itself. One is the civic ritual, which celebrates democracy and the presidency itself, the peaceful handover of power from President Gore to President-Elect Bush; the other is a celebration of the president, the mere man. Increasingly, Bush and his henchmen do not know the difference, and they were always inclined sharply to the imperial view of the presidency.

This blog has spoken frequently about the poverty of Bush’s understanding of democracy in the context of Afghan and Iraqi elections, but I’d like to return to his much-quoted comment in the WaPo interview that “We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 elections.” Here’s how my computer dictionary defines “moment”: “1 a brief period of time. 2 an exact point in time.” In Bush’s vision, democratic accountability is an exact point in time, Election Day, one day out of 1,461, and the very last accountability moment of his political career is now behind him. What does that make him, class? That’s right: unaccountable. So abandon your protests, your speeches and diatribes, your letters to the editor or the White House, your petitions and remonstrances, because the moment in which even Bush considered himself accountable to the American people has come... and it has gone.

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