Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bush accountability is gone

June 7, 2007


Somebody owes me a Diet Coke.

That's what was at stake in a wager a gentleman and I made over dinner at a restaurant in Baton Rouge. He had asked if I didn't agree that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then, as now, under fire in the scandal over the alleged politically motivated firing of nine U.S. attorneys, would soon be forced to step down. I said no. He said Gonzales would not last six weeks. We made a bet on it.

This was 11 weeks ago. Gonzales, of course, is still in office. In fact, President Bush last month reiterated his support for his embattled friend, who faces a possible Senate no-confidence vote later this month.

I wish I could say that in wagering on Gonzales' political survival, I relied upon some insider knowledge, some astute reading of the tea leaves based on long years of watching the political scene. Truth is, what I relied on is a belief in the utter shamelessness of George W. Bush's administration.

No, Team Bush does not own the patent on shamelessness. Some of us thought it bespoke an alarming imperviousness to embarrassment when Bill Clinton, caught lying about being serviced by a young intern in the Oval Office, chose to brazen his way through the resulting furor rather than resign.

But if the Bush people did not invent shamelessness, they have refined it to a level that once seemed impossible. So much so that this shamelessness, this indifference to perception, this abysmal lack of what Thomas Jefferson called "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" may prove to be the administration's defining characteristic, its calling card in matters both grand and small. Granted, shamelessness will have to battle hubris and incompetence to earn that distinction, but still ...

No administration in living memory has shown Team Bush's ability to reverse itself so blithely, to deny the obvious so serenely, to ignore precedent, propriety and responsibility with such placid unconcern for consequences or public perception.

Weapons of mass destruction not found where you once guaranteed they would be? Pretend you invaded Iraq for other reasons.

"Stay the course" proving an ever more threadbare strategy? Deny it was ever your strategy at all.

FEMA director presides over a botched disaster relief effort that costs hundreds of American lives? Praise him for doing "a heckuva job."

CIA director presides over intelligence gathering failures that cost thousands of American lives? Give him a Medal of Freedom.

And so on.

If you're looking for accountability, you're looking in the wrong White House. Or as Bush once put it, "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections." In other words, if you win the election you can do whatever you want and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

So I am not surprised that, despite growing evidence he allowed the Justice Department to become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, Alberto Gonzales still has a job with the federal government. To be honest, I am more surprised that Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and former FEMA chief Michael Brown do not.

And ain't that a kick in the head? We have reached a pass where one is almost shocked to see people held to answer for scandal and ineptitude. Where one is taken aback at the notion that failure carries a price. And where tough talk and a "What, me worry?" smugness now routinely pass for iron resolve and moral clarity.

If you had told me in 2001 that this would be the state of things six years later, I'd have laughed in your face.

I'd have lost a lot of Diet Cokes on that.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.


mick 11 years ago

Bush once said, "It'd be alot easier if we had a dictator, as Iong as I was the dictator." On May 9 he signed a Presidential Directive which claims dictatorial powers in the case of a "catastrophic emergency." This was done under the theory of "unitary executive" which suspends the powers of the Judicial and Legislative branches of government. Whether this is Constitutional or not may be a moot point after he usurps power. He has made mention of such "unitary executive" in 150 or so signings to date.

50YearResident 11 years ago

<> Bush switched to "Operation Iraqi Freedom" only after no weapons of mass destruction were found and he was being called to the carpet for an unprovoked attack on Iraq.

Bobo Fleming 11 years ago

If given the choice between Bush and Kerry again, I would hold my nose, take a deep breath, and vote for Bush. If the Dems would give us somebody to vote for guys like Bush might not get in but no, the dems give us Goreasms and Heinz Kerry. What a crowd.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years ago

His accountability isn't gone-- it was never there. From DUI's and going AWOL to his whole presidency, this frat-boy cheerleader and faux good-ole-boy has never been accountable for anything.

But "being accountable" was never his job as president. His job as president has always been to hand over the US Govt to his buddies and cronies in the banking, oil, military and other industries on a silver platter-- and he's been remarkably successful at that.

Bubbles 11 years ago

Things were much better for women under Sadam. Literally.


Linda Endicott 11 years ago

Bush never had any accountability to begin question...

Roadkill_Rob 11 years ago

Bubbles and 75x55,

Why do you insist on ignoring facts? When someone brings up valid points, why do you call it "bitterness"? Why do you want America to fail? Are you in the oil business? Are you profiting from military contracts? If not, I can't see why anyone else can still support this president.

Calling out the administration for its obvious misconduct is NOT bitterness. But, I guess you can never underestimate the power of denial.

Roadkill_Rob 11 years ago


I know there were numerous issues going into the war, but the main one was WMDs and what would happen if Saddam gave them to terrorists. Bush and Co. played this card more than any other card and it was the main card played by Powell for the U.N. I agree with you that Pitts should have mentioned the other reasons as well.

However, what a lot of people are ignoring, but it seemed so obvious to me from the beginning, was that the war was to help secure Iraq's oil fields and help his military buddies profit. Bush and Co. suffer from extreme greed and to think that they convinced everyone to go into Iraq for the Iraqi people is naive. Bush has proven time and again that he doesn't give a f### about Iraqis or their "freedom."

TheOriginalCA 11 years ago

At least George Bush doesn't throw insults and resort to name calling of the people who didn't vote for him. I got a little tired of Clinton calling me a Right Winged Extremist/Whacko. Also, never forget that Saddam Hussein used his own oil wells as WMD and badly damaged the environment during Dessert Storm. Saddam himself was a WMD. WMD is not the ONLY reason we invaded Iraq. Look at the manner in which these militias are acting on behalf of Hussein, is there not a problem there that needs to be addressed?

Also, what a GOOD president Kerry would have made. Afterall, he basically called soldiers "illiterate" last year. Go ahead and elect Hillary, she is chock FULL of ethics and integrity!

nell 11 years ago

It really doesn't matter that the other 'reasons' were spouted PRIOR to the invasion - none of them constitute a reason to invade another nation.

Bush needed a 'reason' to ensure his camp's personal gains of mass proportions weren't jeopardized, and imminent threat posed by WMD was the only flimsy excuse they could come up with that came close to justifying Bush's plan to the congress and the public. (plan? That implies reason, organization, forethought. I mean 'short orders based on gut reaction.')

It's frightening, and truly insulting to anyone who made the wrong decision in the 'moment' of voting, that he baldly states that accountability is not his job, it's the citizens'.

drewdun 11 years ago

Its amazing to come on here and see the sycophants still trying desperately to vindicate their Dear Leader. So sad.

And lemme tell ya, when even RT is trying to distance himself from Bush (oh so subtly, might I add, but still), something's going on.

Roadkill_Rob 11 years ago

"I see more greed in the previous occupants of the White House."

You've GOT to be kidding? Not to say that the Clintons' weren't greedy, but come on!

Roadkill_Rob 11 years ago

I just don't see why you Bush supporters still try to defend him. Especially when you have to say: "At least Bush doesn't..." You guys can't even support Bush's policies anymore, rather you bring up what was wrong with Clinton.

It's alright, you don't have to ditch your political ideals to admit that Bush is the wrong guy for the job. I hope you learn a lesson and not vote for a guy just b/c you can see yourself having a beer with the guy or that he claims to be born-again.

Cait McKnelly 11 years ago

The words "weapons of mass destruction" were used at the last Republican National Convention 147 times. ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY SEVEN TIMES over the course of a one week, seven day event. Tell me again WMD wasn't the reason used to sell this war to the American people and I'll laugh in your face.

Roadkill_Rob 11 years ago

"Also, what a GOOD president Kerry would have made."

Yep, Kerry actually fought in a war and has a better understanding of what war is. Therefore, he is better qualified at making war decisions. What did W do? He basically dodged the war with the help of his dad. What a hero.

Roadkill_Rob 11 years ago

"Just because that's all the information your brain could process doesn't mean the other information wasn't there."

Easy there, Einstein. If you voted for Bush, you really can't talk about intelligence.

drewdun 11 years ago

"ferdinandlanghoff says....

I'll stop bringing up the Clinton record if everything liberal here promsies not to mention George Bush after January 21, 2009."

Um, unfortunately we'll still be dealing with the tragic effects of his absolutely disastrous rule for many years after he leaves office. Not mentioning him would be irresponsible.

Roadkill_Rob 11 years ago

"Tell us why you think I'm wrong."

Greed comes in all shapes and sizes, and Clinton didn't invade a country to help his oil and military buddies profit.

"So you believe the American people made mistakes in 1992 and 1996 when they first elected and then reelected a veritable draft dodger over two World War II veterans?"

We weren't in a war in 1992 or 1996.

"I also have to assume that you'll support John McCain or Duncan Hunter over any of the Democrat presidential nominees."

I would support John McCain over Bush any day, though he doesn't impress me much these days. I'll admit, I don't know much about Duncan Hunter but I don't think he'll be a candidate.

However, the circumstances have changed and I'd elect Obama over anyone else b/c I believe he'll regain the respect of the world through diplomacy which is what we need our next president to do. Neo-Con military tactics have obviously not worked. I may be in the minority, but I believe diplomacy and compromise is what can ease tensions in the middle east.

Godot 11 years ago

Leonard, William Jefferson may not have invented shamlessness, but he has refined in to an art.

Question: How many of the staff members in the Justice Department self identified themselves Democrats at the end of the Clinton Administration?

If the answer is "more than 40%," then clearly there is reason to investigate, and litigate, the hiring and firing practices of the Clinton Administration

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