Friday, December 12, 2008

Bush: On the Line

There's a full moon over Washington today, and the lifeline to George W. Bush's legacy can't get a signal after the Senate's historic defeat of a measure that would have prevented the inconceivable bankruptcies of the big three automakers.

The Senate has been busier than usual lately, and the bailout question has been allowed to steal the spotlight from release of findings by the Senate Armed Services Committee, after a two year study, that it is the Bush administration, not rank and file soldiers, who are responsible for the systematic, and vastly underreported, abuse of detainees in Iraq, at Gitmo, and in Afghanistan. The fact that this report isn't shocking is, in itself, shocking.

But, the Senate isn't the only governmental body tripping over the carcass of a corrupt executive branch just as Vice President Dick Cheney isn't the only whose ethics come with the label "assembly required." Unitary, or otherwise, no one can deny that this White House is certainly unique, and will be recalled, for generations to come, as one that has distinguished itself by its linguistic sleight-of-hand, and attempts to bypass international law.

According to The Associated Press, the President, and his henchmen, are working overtime to ensure that the full extent of damage inflicted upon detainees never sees the light of day in its last ditch effort to bar access to memos, and other legal documents, which would corroborate allegations of torture by human rights organization.

An administration which has also distinguished itself by its unparalleled prowess at covering its tracks will yet get to retire with impunity, at least with temporary impunity. But, one day, these documents will come to light, and when they will, there will be no question that this executive branch (which, by the way, includes Mr. Cheney), spearheaded a regime that left America morally, as well as financially, bankrupt.

The only question that remains, in the next few weeks, is whether the President will have the added bonus of adding insult to injury by allowing his partners in crime in the Senate to inject ideology into the catastrophic collapse of the auto industry. Those who voted down the auto bailout bill, in the Senate, show contempt for working men and women in this country, and a Scrooge-like callousness for the heartbreak of what will be massive layoffs.

And, speaking of contempt, there is no restoring the reputation of an administration that has scrupulously sought to sabotage the Bill of Rights, and Geneva, as well as destroy evidence of what can only be called war crimes by U.S. military personnel, acts of torture that were not merely approved, but orchestrated, by the executive branch, as this latest report from the bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee establishes.

The "bad apple" argument advanced by some, like former Department of Defense spokesman, Larry di Rita, can only go so far as, indeed, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." It wasn't just a few "bad guards or interrogators" that crossed the line in interrogating detainees, but administration policy to train them to do so.

Likewise, the collapse of the freewheeling, unregulated, survival of the fittest ethos that brought us the demise of Enron, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, and that is now bringing Wall Street, and the auto industry, to its knees is not coincidental to leadership, but with the collaboration of leadership. Those who attempted to show who has been profiting most at the expense of the home mortgage debacle, like Eliot Spitzer, experienced falls of their own.

While he's about the business of granting last minute pardons, Mr. Bush may be prevailed upon to pardon those automakers whose ruin will have global ramifications. Whether he likes it or not, we're still on his watch, and it is time for this President to act to protect not just car manufacturers, but the millions of jobs that will be lost with their demise.