Yesterday the NYT's Bob Herbert wrote an Op-Ed ("Add Up the Damage") about Bush in which he called for "a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country."
The column received, by my reckoning, an exceptional response in online comments, about twice the norm for Op-Eds that I have seen, and recommendations for Editor's Selections multiple times greater than the norm.
The most recommended, by 1463 readers, was the following:
You wrote: The Bush administration specialized in deceit. How else could you get the public (and a feckless Congress) to go along with an invasion of Iraq as an absolutely essential response to the Sept. 11 attacks, when Iraq had had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks? Well, perhaps that question should be asked of Judith Miller and the rest of the staff at the Times. Perhaps, that question should be answered by all members of the mainstream media. You were all complicit in the deceit. Yes, the Bush administration played on the fears and false patriotism of the citizens but where was the press? The press/mainstream media was cowering in a corner...afraid to appear as if they were not supporting the troops. The Times was afraid of The Post and television and cable news was afraid of Fox news. No one wanted to lose readers/viewers by questioning any of the rash statements made by the Bush administration. You went along with it. The press made a choice. You chose cash over courage. You abdicated your responsibility as members of the fourth estate. Where is this mentioned in your article? You assign justifiable blame to Bush and to the people but where in your article do you accept blame for your actions and your lack of actions? This is the problem with the press. You keep score of your own game and by your reckoning you are never to blame...
— M. Fox, nyc
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M. Fox makes an excellent point, one obviously shared by many, many NYT's readers that the media are deeply implicated in the crimes of the Bush regime.
The unlawful, immoral, unjust invasion and continued occupation of Iraq by the US could not have been carried out without the active collusion of Judy Miller of the NYT, the editorial leadership at the Times, and the rest of the major media.
When the so-called liberal - and iconic - NYT said that WMD were in Saddam's hands, and when the NYT failed to ever utter the words "international law" in any of this, which if they had done so, would have made it immediately clear that WMD or no WMD, attacking a country that has not attacked you is the gravest war crime of all, then people who would otherwise have known better and smelled a rat, went along cheerily since if the Times and Post and CBS were saying it, it's got to be true!
The fact that so many of the Times' own readers feel this way says something.
What M. Fox doesn't mention - brought up by other commenters - is the equally shameful, criminal role played by the Democratic Party (and fellow GOP members who claim to uphold the rule of law) in facilitating and allowing the predations and tyranny of Bush and his gang.
Which brings me to my main point in this post, thinking as I am right now about the year 2008 and the prospects for 2009: what is worse than what Bush and Cheney have done (only a fraction of which most Americans are aware of since the media has not deemed it worthy to tell people the full story and it's only available in books such as mine and a number of other fine ones and on the Internet and in the alternative media - such as Glenn Greenwald's columns) is that Bush and Cheney have been allowed to get away with it.
It is one thing when a tyrant or dangerously incompetent person comes to power, it is quite another for the rest of the political leadership class and the opinion-makers of the society to shield that tyrant or incompetent.
As at least some - I didn't read all of the over 700 comments on the NYT's website in response to Herbert's piece - have pointed out, what Herbert still won't do and what the NYT's has consistently refused to do, is utter the dreaded "I" word - impeachment. When a gang of leaders declare themselves above the law, launch wars that have killed over a million to date, steal two elections, openly commit felonies including spying on all of us, overrule Congressional laws via hundreds of signing statements and Executive Orders, commit treason by outing the wife of a critic, diddle while thousands are needlessly killed in a hurricane that everyone on the planet knew was coming, carry out torture as policy, abrogate habeas corpus, suppress science and deny the dire threat to the planet of global warming, and the other leaders and institutions let them, then we and the planet are not just victims of a bad administration for two terms: we are allowing a precedent to be set that undermines the rule of law and gives dictatorial powers to the Executive Branch for the use of any future president.
I'll say that again since it bears repeating: Bush and Cheney have overridden key precepts of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and international law. They have been and are being allowed to get away with it. That means it becomes the new standard. The so-called war on terror gives any public official the power, in other words, to do anything and everything they want, including torture and murder, as long as they say the magic words: "national security" and "terrorism."