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Damage control

Will McAuliffe | Monday, April 30, 2007

The Bush administration and its cronies have directed a huge portion of their resources toward damage control. The problem is: they’re about 6,000 miles off target with their efforts. Instead of focusing on protecting the millions of troops and civilians in Baghdad and other areas of Iraq against IEDs, they’ve chosen to defend themselves and their policies against verbal attacks and calls for resignation. As the scope of long-overdue oversight investigations expands, so too does our knowledge of the actions that the White House has taken, or has failed to take, these past seven years. Instead of providing sufficient explanations or holding the appropriate people accountable for failures and missteps, however, this administration and its compatriots have chosen to stonewall, finally succumbing only to the almighty subpoena. Even this, however, has proven at times to be a futile exercise in accountability.The amount of things that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can recall could seemingly be counted on one hand. His testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was an absolute joke, racking up over 70 answers of “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall” by the end, despite the appropriate focus of the questions. His inability to recall crucial facts about his role in firing eight U.S. Attorneys was ludicrous and, as has been stated by many pundits, either reflects his refusal to share facts or simply an inability and altogether lack of diligence in carrying out his duties. President Bush’s response to Gonzales’ absurd lack of integrity, capability and testimony: “The attorney general gave a very candid assessment … in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job.”So, just to be clear on this: Attorney General Gonzales took an entire month preparing for this testimony and, in effect, didn’t testify to much else beyond his incompetence. As a result, President Bush has increased confidence in him. Got it? Moving on.Paul Wolfowitz, the former Deputy Secretary of Defense who was previously best known for his hawkish consistency in calling for attacks on Iraq well before 9/11, was installed as President of the World Bank in January of 2005. However, Wolfowitz’s romantic interest, Shaha Ali Riza, was already working for the World Bank, creating a conflict of interest for Wolfowitz. Taking a page from the book of cronyism as written by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Wolfowitz decided that the appropriate action would be to facilitate a transfer of Ms. Riza to the State Department where she would work under Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney. As a notable perk, Ms. Riza received an enormous pay raise, ultimately earning a salary higher than Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.Like Gonzales, Wolfowitz has ignored resounding calls for his resignation, choosing instead to leave it up to the President or an official vote. It seems like these guys just don’t know when they’ve lost.These two cases, however, are simply symptomatic of the overt nepotism and sheer hubris of the Bush administration. In a villainous stroke, allegiances to the American people, the Constitution and fundamental notions of human rights and dignity have been replaced by allegiance to the President. The extensive politicization of law enforcement shown in the Federal Attorney firings, the disrespect for transparency and accountability demonstrated by the “loss” of about five million e-mails between top government officials, and the failure of the administration to take responsibility for their negligent actions, all point towards a blatant disregard for public service and ultimately a dismissal of the American constituency as being relevant to the country’s direction. Time after time we are being sold this notion that we’re not capable of determining what’s best for our country, and that our sense of history is askew. President Bush has said time and time again that he only cares how he is judged by history, but fails to acknowledge that this Machiavellian take on leadership is definitively ignorant of the population that he was elected to serve.Accountability has gone missing along with Habeus Corpus and the Geneva Conventions these past several years, but the newly-elected, Democratic-majority Congress is at long last trying to make it right. With 61 percent of Americans disapproving of Bush’s efforts in last week’s CBS/New York Times poll, the people have indeed spoken. However, this administration has also spoken, stating that they are not by the people, for the people and of the people. Instead, it is by their boss, for the history books, and of those who happen to agree with Bush and Cheney.

Will McAuliffe is a senior Political Science major who welcomes all comments and criticisms at [email protected] He has truly enjoyed being able to share his thoughts and ideas with all of The Observer’s readers, and hopes that his columns have been helpful and provocative to those who have read them.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.