Commentary: Good riddance to them all

McClatchy NewspapersNovember 21, 2007 

There was little for the unindicted co-conspirators of the Bush administration to give thanks for this week as the clock winds down on the 14 months they have left in power.

With former White House press secretary Scott McClellan spilling the beans on who told him to lie to the American people and cover up the White House's responsibility for the criminal act of revealing the identity of a covert CIA officer, it clearly was time for some folks to begin drafting their requests for presidential pardons.

McClellan, in a forthcoming book that will tell some, if not all, reveals that his 2003 statements absolving top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of any involvement in leaking the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame were untrue — and that the orders to make those statements came from President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, White House chief of staff Andrew Card, Rove and Libby.

McClellan's revelation makes it abundantly clear that a subsequent statement by Bush that White House aides had no involvement in outing Ms. Plame, and that anyone who did would be fired was also, shall we say, inoperative.

It also confirms long-held suspicions that the whole despicable affair — an attempt to punish former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for debunking a bit of the bogus intelligence the administration wheeled out to justify invading Iraq — was orchestrated in the offices of Bush and Cheney, and with their knowledge.

It also might shed new light on why Bush quickly commuted Cheney’s hatchet man Libby's prison sentence after he was convicted on four counts of lying to federal investigators. It simply wouldn’t do to have Libby rolling over on his bosses.

Somehow, I have a strong feeling that this isn't the only or the last revelation of wrong-doing and criminality that we're likely to hear before and after Bush and Co. leave office, or that additional presidential acts of clemency will be needed to spare other top administration officials from prison and buy their silence.

What we've witnessed and endured during seven long years of the Bush presidency is the inevitable consequence of bringing vicious and unprincipled but successful political campaigners — attack dogs — into top White House jobs.

The idea that a political campaign should address any and all criticism by going for the throats of those who dare to question it may work on election day but it doesn’t work, or shouldn’t, when the full weight and power of the federal government is put behind it.

We are a better people and this is a better country than that, and this is why, when it's weighed and judged, the Bush presidency will be found to have perverted not only our system but also the very principles on which our nation was founded.

We don’t rush into a war that has cost so many lives and so much national treasure, and has so damaged our standing in the world, based on a tissue of lies. But under the leadership of George W. Bush, that's what we did in Iraq.

We don’t stand idly by, backs turned and eyes closed, while in wartime our friends and political contributors loot the national treasury of billions of taxpayer dollars. But the Bush administration and a Republican-controlled Congress did just that.

We don’t send our soldiers and Marines into combat without enough of everything they need to fight, survive and win. But that's what this administration and its political operatives in charge of the Pentagon did.

We don’t turn the office of the attorney general and key parts of the Justice Department into a branch of a partisan political campaign — gutting offices charged with protecting the civil rights of minorities and directing the prosecution of those of a different political party — but this administration did.

We don’t declare war and then expect that the entire sacrifice will be borne by the half a percent of our population who wear uniforms. We don’t fight a long and costly war by cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans and borrowing trillions of dollars to finance it from foreign competitors such as China. But this administration did.

We don’t prosecute a war to spread democracy by curtailing democracy and suspending the Bill of Rights at home. We cannot promote our principles abroad by denying the same principles — the right to a lawyer, the right to a fair trial, the right to be secure in our homes — to ourselves. But this administration did.

We don’t beat or torture confessions out of prisoners in violation of our laws and the laws of the civilized world. We don’t lock people up and hold them incommunicado for years without charges or trials. But this administration did and does.

We don’t applaud and cheer an administration and a Congress that make the rich vastly richer, the middle class less secure and the poor even poorer. But this administration has done just that, in violation of our principles and the principles of love, peace and charity that are engrained in the Christianity that these rogues and charlatans embrace so publicly but violate every day.

It will be a good day when they are gone, and good riddance to them all.

McClatchy Newspapers 2007

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