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Beating (around the) Bush

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, November 7, 2005

The glass case of composure surrounding the Bush White House has finally begun to crack, and partisans across the country are now waiting anxiously to see what the next few weeks will hold in store for the future of American politics.

With any luck, it will be a tumultuous future of change and upheaval.

Three months ago, the Republican establishment may have looked at the possibility of a record-breaking hurricane season in the Southeast as a political gift from God. After all, what better way to showcase a future presidential candidate (Jeb Bush) than by positioning him as the Florida-governor-turned-hurricane-hero of America? Sadly – for the Bush clan, that is – Hurricane Katrina thundered into Louisiana and created both a burning city and a burning Bush.

Katrina was crack number one. Racial and class injustices exist all over America, and although it was unfair to single out George Bush as a racist and elitist, it is perfectly accurate to call the status quo of society those things. The fact is, in a nation that prides itself in democratic unity, equal opportunity, and a 13 percent poverty rate, nearly 28 percent of the residents of New Orleans were living in poverty prior to Hurricane Katrina. African-Americans not only disproportionately constituted one in every three hurricane victims because of the ignored realities of urban segregation, but also suffered a 34.9 percent poverty rate in New Orleans before Katrina revealed the bleakness of blackness to white America.

Tom DeLay was crack number two. This conniving Congressman from Texas confirmed America’s suspicions about corruption in politics and revealed the sad truth that democracy may no longer rest in the hands of the voting public. After being indicted in late September for criminal conspiracy because of a scheme to funnel corporate contributions to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature, this eternal thorn in the side of all that is good and right in the world will finally suffer the consequences for committing such a blatant crime against democracy.

Harriet Miers was crack number three. Cronyism and nepotism have existed in the White House ever since John Adams appointed his good friend John Marshall as the fourth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. However, with Bush’s dubious selection of his inexperienced pal Miers to replace the esteemed Sandra Day O’Connor on the bench, the public finally decided to speak out and demand that democratic justice remain a feature of the judicial branch.

Scooter Libby was crack number four. For the first time in over 130 years (since the Ulysses S. Grant administration), a sitting White House official was indicted, and the repercussions of this scandal in the vice president’s office have the potential to bring down a number of key administration officials. After all, while the direct charges of the Libby case are obstruction of justice and other felonies related to the release of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name to the media, the real implications of the case extend directly to the most controversial decision of the Bush administration – the Iraq War.

Specifically, it was alleged that Libby (and any other official eventually included in the charges) may have released Plame’s name as an attack against her husband, Joseph Wilson, for writing a New York Times op-ed piece that discredited a key claim used by President Bush for engaging in the Iraq War – that Iraq had signed a deal with Niger for 500 tons of uranium yellowcake, a potential bomb ingredient. Wilson spent time investigating the claim in Niger and found that it was entirely spurious, thereby nullifying a key piece of evidence presented to Congress in 2002 before it gave the President the authority to engage in military action against Saddam Hussein.

If the revelation of Plame’s CIA identity to the public turns out to be a spiteful act on the part of the Bush administration, it would call into question the truth behind the reasons for entering a war that has now killed over 2,000 American servicemen and women. This would in turn call into question the ethics and morality of President Bush himself – a man who, ironically, vowed in his 2000 campaign, “When I put my hand on the Bible I will restore honor and integrity to the Oval Office.”

Now, in an effort to prevent a fifth crippling crack from shattering through the remnants of his administration, Bush has recently tried to distract the nation with threats of avian flu and the nomination of ultra-conservative Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court – a man so ideological that he will surely distract Congress in a hissy-fit of partisan bickering that will last well into 2006.

However, this is not the same post-Sept. 11 American public whose fear was manipulated by false claims into supporting Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq. The fear of blood-thirsty chickens and eye-gouging sparrows will no longer be enough to distract America into blindly following its leader like a flock of confused sheep.

Katrina, DeLay, Miers and Libby have shown that there now exists a threat far greater than that of terrorism or bird flu. There is a threat against democracy, and the American people will not stand for it.

Joey Falco is a junior American Studies major. His column appears every other Monday. He can be contacted at jfalco@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.