Sunday, February 12, 2006

"little white lies" and the White House

"I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky," President Bill Clinton. This may be a contender for the little white lie of recent memory, but let's stop, for a minute, and take a look at other rivals for first place.

A notable rival for the championship title, you may remember the whopper told by then vice president, George H.W. Bush (aka "pere"), when he said he was "out of the loop" at the time the Iran Contra story broke back in 1986. After doing his"see no evil, hear no evil..." dance, Bush pere then claimed he was unaware of the Iran initiative, and exchange of arms to the Contras for release of hostages in what came to be known as "Irangate," in which secret arrangements were made providing funds to the Nicaraguan Contras. It was the American government, you'll recall, that sold arms to Iran in an effort to placate the so-called "moderates" in the Iranian government. We, in this country, have learned a thing or two about placating "moderates" in recent years, too.

Our government, under Ronald Reagan, sold arms to Iran as a means of securing the release of American hostages held there. Stay tuned, this is one story that is bound to make a major media comeback in the months ahead as this administration, and the (hunh?) "international community" move in to disarm Iran, the same country to whom we sold arms. ( Deja vu; Bin there, done that? wasn't it the American government, too who trained and equipped Bin Laden, and his boys, back when they were called "freedom fighters," and not terrorists, but I digress...)

As you recall, aside from securing the release of American hostages held in Iran, Ronald Reagan wanted to help the noble Contra rebels in their campaign against the evil Sandinistas. Remember President Reagan's now infamous press conference in which he insisted that he didn't remember anything at all about the illegal exchange of arms for hostages?

Last but not least, under the heading of "I could have been a contender" comes Bush fils:
"I never once met up with that Jack Abramoff woman." (well, almost)
And here we are, 20 years after papa Bush said he was "out of the loop," and denied any complicity with his commander-in-chief in an illegal arms deal, et voila, The New York Times, and Time Magazine release a photograph which the White House now acknowledges proves indisputably that this president did, in fact, have his photograph taken with pariah lobbyist, and soon to be convict, Jack Abramoff.

A spokesman for the White House now openly acknowledges that the photograph in question showing Mr. Bush with Mr. Abramoff is the real McCoy, and was taken back in 2001 at a meeting of more than 20 state legislators when the president, along with the largest donor to his campaign ("Jumping Jack"), thanked these legislators for tax relief. The White House insists that the president has had his photograph taken with thousands of people, over the past 5 years, and that having one's picture taken with someone doesn't mean that one has had a "personal relationship" with that person. If a bit Clintonesque, apart from the inherent absurdity of this argument, who, for a red minute, would believe that someone would have his photo taken with a person who was the single greatest contributor to his campaign and a) not remember being photographed with him, and b) not recall ever having met him? I mean, when was the last time someone with whom you had no personal relationship gave you $100,000?

Clearly, there are lies and there are lies. It is one thing to try to protect one's family from a transgression, and conceal facts from a grand jury about an intimate, and private moment that was inappropriate but, to my knowledge, not illegal (remember it was lying to a grand jury for which Bill Clinton was impeached, not having sex with Monica Lewinsky), and it is another thing to selectively perceive, or totally ignore, prewar evidence, and take a country to war based on another "little white lie" about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. If nothing else, recent history has shown us that, while there may be stiff penalties for deceiving a federal grand jury, more often than not, regrettably, a president, and vice president, can lie to the American people, and Congress, with impunity.

That said, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," a great man once said. After all, who among us hasn't fudged the truth a bit, here and there, but do keep in mind that it is this president, and the Neo-Con "Contract for America" which brought us Newt Gingrich, Dan Quayle, "family values," and that claims it has the moral high ground in being "pro-life" while, on his watch, this president's home state of Texas ordered more executions than any governor before or since.

Can an administration that relies more heavily on "executive privilege" than the King James Bible, and that insists that,with the Second Amendment comes the right to be a control freak, deny, defy, and obfuscate the truth in its jihad for power? Maybe it's time to consider criminalizing those who counterfeit values in much the same way we criminalize those who counterfeit dollar bills. It seems to me that if ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse for getting out of a traffic ticket, then the claim of having been given deceptive intelligence is not a rationale for getting this nation into a dubious war, and bringing the world inches closer to nuclear annihilation. If history shows us that it may be too much to demand truth, then we, as citizens, must at the very least demand accountability from those we elect to represent us.