We are finally coming to the end of the long international nightmare of George W (Whatever I Can Get Away With) Bush and Dick (I’ll Shoot You in the Face, Even If You’re My Friend) Cheney.
That’s what most of America, at least, and the world hope to be the case.
It’s on that note of hope that Keith Olbermann ends his “eight years in eight minutes” assessment of the Bush White House’s years:
“making us act out of fear rather than fortitude
“leaving us with precious little to cling to tonight
“save the one thing that might yet suffice:
Hope is what Obama’s presidential bid was based on and what his presidency will be premised upon. Hope (and revulsion for the Bush Regime) is what moved millions to vote for Obama. This system had to reach further than it’s ever reached to “keep hope alive,” as Jesse Jackson used to say. The system went to a first term black Senator with a middle name of Hussein to keep that hope alive. This system even offered us a GOP ticket that claimed that it also represented “reform,” because the Bush/Cheney White House has been so despised and so manifestly disastrous.
* * *
Hope and change.
It would take eight weeks, not eight minutes, to recount all of the Bush Regime’s transgressions in full (for they have had eight years to do their carnage in and have not wasted any time, even now, when pardons and other further transgressions are still possible). We wrote a book about this (Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney) as did several other authors. Those books are indispensable reading for those who want to understand the sheer magnitude of Bush and Cheney’s crimes and the origins and agenda of their movement.
I’m not going to try to recount all of their crimes here. I’m going to cut to the chase and focus on the most important element of all: the fact that the Bush Regime represents the culmination (to this point), and logical outcome, of the trajectory that began in earnest under Ronald Reagan: Free market and Christian fundamentalists in charge; “faith-based community” dictating over the “reality-based community;” political power untethered from – and openly defiant and contemptuous of - the law.
The rule of law and of reason was replaced under Bush and Cheney by the rule of men.
This is much more dangerous than any of the specific, infamous, and egregious sins of commission and omission by the Bush Regime. For if their transgressions are allowed to pass unprosecuted and unsanctioned, then the precedent stands and has been established. It doesn’t matter if this new administration refuses to do what Bush and Cheney and the US government as a whole have done for the last eight years. It doesn’t matter if Obama ends torture, closes GITMO, ceases rendition, restores habeas corpus, declines to use signing statements and stops the ubiquitous government spying. It doesn’t matter how high toned his rhetoric and how different his administration’s actions and policies. It doesn’t matter if Obama turns out to walk on water. If Obama does not prosecute the Bush Regime’s crimes, if he declines to “look backward” and insists on only “looking forward,” then his presidency is a failure: not only do infamous atrocities go unpunished and the victims of those atrocities go unrecognized, but any future president can do what Bush and Cheney have done and more. The game is over. Checkmate. The wrong side wins.
The explicit declaration that the law is whatever the president says it is, and that the President is above any and all laws, represents a return to Emperors and Kings, to pre-Magna Carta, to feudal conceptions of the nature of political rule where the law was whatever the king or queen said it was.
The Bush Regime is living proof that a presidency that invokes “national security” and “terror” can do any and all things that it wants under the rubric of “protecting the nation,” and Congress and the mass media (even if some of them grumble a little) will co-operate like nervous Nellies and declare: “Here, Mr. (or Ms.) President, have some more.”