A powerful piece by New York Times columnist Frank Rich that compares the current Bush-Cheney scandals to the Nixon-Agnew scandals of Watergate. Rich points out the utter arrogance of the Bush White House team and emphasizes their repeated attempts to evade responsibility and accountability. The key paragraphs:
There are many other mysteries to be cracked, from the catastrophic, almost willful failure of the Pentagon to plan for the occupation of Iraq to the utter ineptitude of the huge and costly Department of Homeland Security that was revealed in all its bankruptcy by Katrina. There are countless riddles, large and small. Why have the official reports on detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo spared all but a single officer in the chain of command? Why does Halliburton continue to receive lucrative government contracts even after it's been the focus of multiple federal inquiries into accusations of bid-rigging, overcharging and fraud? Why did it take five weeks for Pat Tillman's parents to be told that their son had been killed by friendly fire, and who ordered up the fake story of his death that was sold relentlessly on TV before then?
These questions are just a representative sampling. It won't be easy to get honest answers because this administration, like Nixon's, practices obsessive secrecy even as it erects an alternative reality built on spin and outright lies.
Mr. Cheney is a particularly shameless master of these black arts. Long before he played semantics on "Meet the Press" with his knowledge of Joseph Wilson in the leak case, he repeatedly fictionalized crucial matters of national security. As far back as May 8, 2001, he appeared on CNN to promote his new assignment, announced that day by Mr. Bush, to direct a governmentwide review of U.S. "consequence management" in the event of a terrorist attack. As we would learn only in the recriminatory aftermath of 9/11 (from Barton Gellman of The Washington Post), Mr. Cheney never did so.
That stunt was a preview of Mr. Cheney's unreliable pronouncements about the war, from his early prediction that American troops would be "greeted as liberators" in Iraq to this summer's declaration that the insurgency was in its "last throes." Even before he began inflating Saddam's nuclear capabilities, he went on "Meet the Press" in December 2001 to peddle the notion that "it's been pretty well confirmed" that there was a direct pre-9/11 link between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence. When the Atta-Saddam link was disproved later, Gloria Borger, interviewing the vice president on CNBC, confronted him about his earlier claim, and Mr. Cheney told her three times that he had never said it had been "pretty well confirmed." When a man thinks he can get away with denying his own words even though there are millions of witnesses and a video record, he clearly believes he can get away with murder.
Mr. Bush is only slightly less brazen. His own false claims about Iraq's W.M.D.'s ("We found the weapons of mass destruction," he said in May 2003) are, if anything, exceeded by his repeated boasts of capturing various bin Laden and Zarqawi deputies and beating back Al Qaeda. His speech this month announcing the foiling of 10 Qaeda plots is typical; as USA Today reported last week, at least 6 of the 10 on the president's list "involved preliminary ideas about potential attacks, not terrorist operations that were about to be carried out." In June, Mr. Bush stood beside his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, and similarly claimed that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects" and that "more than half" of those had been convicted. A Washington Post investigation found that only 39 of those convictions had involved terrorism or national security (as opposed to, say, immigration violations). That sum could yet be exceeded by the combined number of convictions in the Jack Abramoff-Tom DeLay scandals
People, we're in the grip of an Administration that has constructed an alternative reality. Its members maintain this reality by lying with pathological regularity, attacking anyone who threatens their deluded worldview, and engaging in simple psychological denial whenever the actual reality is brought to their attention. The damage they have done by these means has been grim; if they are not somehow stopped it will be catastrophic. Frank Rich is an invaluable voice in this fight, but we need much more. We need the dedication of Democrats, Independents, and fed-up Republicans to get these bastards out of office. That means a DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS elected in November 2006 and a DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT elected in November 2008. Only when the Republicans are voted out of office at every level of government can the salvation of our country begin. The tumor of rightwing Republicanism has to be cut out before it kills America.
Keep the pressure on Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Frist, and all the rest! We're not going to stop until we win--and America is saved.