A cover-up for modern times
As I was watching "All the President's Men" Saturday night in Silver Spring, Md., I wondered if President Bush might ever find himself in Nixon's shoes. Would he ever find himself having to face grand juries, a hostile press and the increasing suspicion of the public? Part of me didn't think so, and another part wished that Bush would come under fire as soon as possible.
It is pathetic and despicable that Bush and his administration quiver and squirm whenever someone tries to hold them accountable for their actions. Bush is thoroughly against any investigation on the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and still has not apologized or admitted any wrongdoing about his proclamations on Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. So it comes as no surprise that the administration is lambasting former Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke.
Clarke, who left the administration about a year ago, has worked for the past four presidents and has a reputation for getting things done. Regardless of Clarke's motives for publicly speaking out against the administration, the administration's attack on Clarke seems flimsy and unfounded. If he is a bitter partisan, how did he survive decades working for Republicans? (Clarke is, by the way, a registered Republican). If he is an opportunist looking for a big book deal, why hasn't he come out before now with a book? Surely he would have needed the money more before he became entrenched in high-security government work, and surely he could have found something scandalous to write about in his previous 25 years of government employment.
It also seems odd for the administration to attack the person who engineered much of the anti-terror work that the White House never fails to glorify. Clarke feels that the administration was too focused on Iraq and ignored other terror threats, and in the aftermath of the brief war in Iraq, that certainly seems credible. After causing chaos in a country that didn't attack us, had no weapons of mass destruction and no ties to al Qaeda, the search is still on for bin Laden. The terrorist behind the destruction of the Twin Towers and the death of thousands of American citizens is still at large. Bush had no justification to invade Iraq because it posed no threat to this country - the character of its leader in this case is irrelevant.
What scares me is not the relative corruption of Nixon to Bush, but the relative blind sheep-ness of the American public between the early 1970s and today. Bush's WMD cover-up was exposed, and his approval ratings hardly skipped a beat. The slogan "Impeach Bush" is still seen as a button worn by crazy, ultra-liberal hippies. Bush has somehow succeeded in convincing a large part of the public that lies and hypocrisy in the name of fighting world terror are legitimate methods of governance. One of Bush's biggest platform issues consists of his so-called accomplishments in national security, which would be like Nixon running for re-election on the basis of his honesty and transcendence of partisan conflicts.
Bush flaunts government "vigilance" against terror for two reasons: he screwed up and needs to fight twice as hard to make sure he comes out looking good, and he doesn't want the public to think about the poor condition of the nation's economy, environment and basic civil rights. If Bush has been so successful fighting terror, why did 9-11 happen when there were warning signs and intelligence that could have prevented the event? Why are U.S. troops still dying daily in a country whose only terrorism consists in sporadic attacks on our occupying forces? Why is bin Laden still roaming free?
The word "terrorism" has been bandied about so much that its definition is barely identifiable. For a detached ideologue like Bush, that works in his favor. For Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the black- and-white of print brought a corrupt leader to justice. For this country today, the black-and-white Platonic vision of its leader veils justice in a groundless swirl of lofty ideas. For this corrupt leader, all the president's men include men and women who blithely stand by Bush without challenging his ideas or actions. When Bush proclaims to the world, "I am not a liar," will people believe him? I sure won't.