Scooter and the Tipping Points
by Mary Lyon
George W. Bush may have tipped more than just the scales of justice when he commuted Scooter Libby's sentence. He's brought this country to at least one of two possible tipping points. One's good and one's - well, horrifying.
Let's get the bad part over with first. We've long suspected that George Bush and Dick Cheney care little for the rule of law, or the principle of justice for all. As they've stomped so arrogantly through the past six-and-a-half years, they've proven repeatedly that they view the law not as something to revere, obey, and uphold, but rather as an annoying nuisance to be gotten around. That's been underscored with the bright, shiny new Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card that their pal Scooter Libby now keeps in his back pocket. Frankly, it shouldn't have come as that much of a shock to most of us that this latest outrage finally found its way into reality. C'mon, folks, we all know the score with these greedy rogues.
My concern here is the in-yer-face factor that seems to be governing Dubya's every move. He thinks he's "right" about everything, so the hell with what you think. And, the hell with what you want, unless your wish just happens to be in perfect synch with his own personal agenda. Letting Libby off the hook was just another version of George doing it His Way - neither pleasing arch-conservatives who wanted a free-and-clear pardon nor the rest of us who expected proper, legal, legitimately juried and judged payment of a debt to society. I'm sure Bush was pressured plenty from both sides. And it wouldn't be the first time. My concern is how far he'll push it.
Junior is at, or near, the bottom of the polls. Even he probably can't go much lower. He still has this sliver of knuckle-dragger support that clings like barnacles to the bottom of an old barge. In fact, that small contingent will probably push his numbers back up an inch or two. But it means he doesn't have much of anything left to lose, no coattails of any sort, no leverage with much of Congress or the rest of America. He's already said he'll stay the course on Iraq, for example, even if the only people supporting him are wife Laura and dog Barney. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter recently observed that Dubya is not so much a lame duck as a cooked goose. Bush remains fueled by this pseudo-messianic motivation for remolding the world in his own image and likeness - because God Himself (or Cheney) told him to. He's sure both God and history, long after he's dead and it no longer matters to him, will vindicate him - regardless what anybody thinks now. And that's damned scary.
Since we see, again, how willing Dubya is to ignore anyone else's recommendations (except Cheney's), the obvious question is - how else will he flout the law, logic, accountability, and the concept of fair play? What more has he got left to lose, besides nothing? What's to stop him? What's to stop him from deciding his only option is to go out with a bang - in, say, Iran? Hey, why not just go for broke? He's so far down that it makes no difference now. So what if nobody likes it? Who cares what they think, anyway? What's to stop Bush from seizing on his basically-unchallenged self-appointed dictatorial powers to declare there's enough public unrest out there to pose some sort of "threat," requiring him to impose martial law? What's to stop him, if he chooses to provoke another international crisis, from declaring that we have to suspend the next election, and he feels like pushing that notorious red button on somebody he doesn't like in another country? After all, hardly anybody likes him anymore. It won't matter either way. What's the point in even caring what happens in the long run? We'll all be dead by then, anyway, as he's already said.
Which brings me to the other tipping point - which may well be the only thing that just might stop Bush: IMPEACHMENT.
Letting Libby off the hook may FINALLY be THE last straw for sufficient numbers of people on Capitol Hill - and beyond - to rise up and say this is, at last, ENOUGH. It's already prompted at least one actual mainstream-media figure, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, to issue a formal call for both Bush and Cheney to resign. Of course, this White House will thumb its collective noses at him as it's done with the rest of us who've long complained that Bush/Cheney's actions are completely unsupportable. The harsh reality we will have to face, too, is that these Two Horsemen of the Constitutional Apocalypse will continue thumbing their noses at us as long as they're not stopped. Maybe I'm grasping at straws here, but something feels different now, on the heels of Scooter's free scoot.
For the rest of the day following Bush's Libby announcement, and well into the evening, I watched online as person after person after person who'd once messaged or posted their hesitation or reluctance about such a draconian response as IMPEACHMENT change their minds and support that response wholeheartedly. It was as though walls were tumbling, veils were falling, eyes were opening, and resolve was strengthening - from coast to coast. The next day, everywhere I went, I could not escape the angry people who were still fuming, hearing about their previous evenings during which they seethed in outrage, downed whole pints of ice cream in frustration, lost their appetite, didn't sleep, screamed at their TVs, even - for those who never touch the stuff - poured themselves a drink. They, too, were hissing about the urgent need for IMPEACHMENT - most frequently from between clenched teeth.
As We the People grow in numbers and in determination not to let this stand any longer, so will our reps and our leaders - provided WE lead THEM. Many of us have had more than a belly-full by now. And I suspect that will inevitably include growing numbers of Congressmembers. Dennis Kucinich's HR333, calling for Dick Cheney's IMPEACHMENT, once sat there gathering cobwebs. As of the start of the July 4th break, there were ten other representatives signed on. I suspect there'll be more when Congress returns to Washington after the long holiday - perhaps many more. Bush and Cheney haven't been stopped by anything else so far. Perhaps IMPEACHMENT and the accompanying threat of removal from office is what's required. At least neither of them could ignore that.
Considering what we risk if we leave the Bush administration's status quo as is. It's no longer good enough to shrug and say we'll just wait them out, because they've only got a year-and-a-half left. How many laws will they flout by then? And how many different ways might Bush just throw up his hands and start a war with Iran or some other place - because he's on his way out anyway and it doesn't make any difference anymore? He thinks because he's not up for "reelection" that he really can't be touched. So why hold back? Who cares what the voters think? Don't we already see a pattern of behavior that says George will do whatever he damned well pleases, warnings, advice, and the law be damned?
We're left with a choice between tipping points. I know which one I prefer.
Then go DO something about it.
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