William Rivers Pitt | Anyone But Bush
Anyone But Bush
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 22 October 2003
Looking at both sides of the debate over the looming 2004 Presidential campaign, one finds weirdness on both sides of the political aisle. From the mouths of those who advocate for the current administration, we find this feigned outrage directed at those who criticize George W. Bush. The critics, we are told, have no substance to them. They just hate Bush for the sake of simple hatred. Many who argue from the liberal/progressive realm, conversely, cast their eyes across the nine Democratic candidates for the office and find each and every one of them sorely wanting in one way or another.
In other words, liberals just hate Bush because they just hate Bush, and simultaneously dislike all the Democratic candidates because they do not pass the purity test. Those within the liberal realm who argue the 'ABBA' perspective ('ABBA' being the 'Anyone But Bush Association') are denounced by a segment of their fellow liberals for having no standards, no morals, no integrity.
ABBA people tend to be upfront about the fact that they would vote for a baloney sandwich before voting Bush in 2004. This does not pass the smell test for many of their fellow progressives. Has the baloney sandwich ever held office before? Does the baloney sandwich have a record it can run on? Did the baloney sandwich vote for the Iraq war? Did the baloney sandwich vote for the Patriot Act? Where does the baloney sandwich stand on the Israel/Palestine issue?
There is no doubt that these are important issues, and there is no doubt that ABBA advocates will have to swallow a degree of their liberal integrity when they stand to support whomever wins the Democratic nomination in Boston this coming summer. Yet the conservative defenses of Bush and his 'haters,' along with liberal denunciations of the ABBA perspective as being without integrity, do not pass my own personal smell test.
The thing is, the conservative White House defenders are spot-on correct about one thing. I despise George W. Bush. I despise his Vice President, his Senior Political Advisor, his Chief of Staff, his Defense Secretary, his Assistant Defense Secretary, his Attorney General, his National Security Advisor, and his chosen Ambassador to the United Nations. Those names, in case you are confused, are Cheney, Rove, Card, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft, Rice and Negroponte.
I despise his Congressional allies, who have shredded their constitutional duties by refusing to investigate a variety of incredible crimes. For the record, these crimes include the fabrication of Iraq war evidence, the outing of a WMD-hunting CIA agent in an act of political revenge, and the serious questions about how four commercial aircraft fooled the entire domestic defense shield and the entire intelligence community long enough to kill three thousand people.
I despise any and all of his people who fanned out two years ago to pound into the American consciousness the idea that criticizing Bush is treason. If you think that is over, take a gander at the first paragraph of an editorial entitled 'Kennedy, Other Critics, Are Traitors' that appeared today in a local Philadelphia paper called the Daily Local. The author, one Harlan "Buck" Ross, does an admirable job of describing the attitude the Bush administration has about its critics:
"According to my dictionary a 'traitor' is a person who behaves disloyally; one who betrays his country. What I hear from U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is nothing short of traitorous. The nine (10?) would-be candidates for the presidency in 2004 are but a short distance behind him with their ranting and raving and irresponsible blaspheming of the president of the United States."
Call me old-fashioned, but I could have sworn that one can only blaspheme against God. When criticism of this President, or any President, is rhetorically raised to the level of blasphemy, we the people have an enormous problem on our hands.
Yeah, I hate them all. Do I hate for the simple sake of hatred? Do I hate Bush because he is a Republican, a Texan, a white male, a meat-eater? Certainly not. I hate George W. Bush and all of his people because they have done an incredible amount of damage to this nation I hold so dear. I hate them because they are professional liars, thieves, brigands without conscience. I hate them, fully and completely, on the record.
They lied about the need for this war. If you won't take it from me, take it from an avowed conservative and Bush voter named Paul Sperry, who wrote an editorial entitled 'Yes, Bush Lied' on October 6. This was published, if you can believe it, on the ultra-right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com, the same page that carries such luminaries as Ann Coulter. Feast:
"According to the consensus of Bush's intelligence services, there was 'low confidence' before the war in the views that 'Saddam would engage in clandestine attacks against the U.S. Homeland' or 'share chemical or biological weapons with al-Qaida.' Their message to the president was clear: Saddam wouldn't help al-Qaida unless we put his back against the wall, and even then it was a big maybe. If anything, the report was a flashing yellow light against attacking Iraq. Bush saw the warning, yet completely ignored it and barreled ahead with the war plans he'd approved a month earlier (Aug. 29), telling a completely different version of the intelligence consensus to the American people. Less than a week after the NIE was published, he warned that 'on any given day' - provoked by attack or not, sufficiently desperate or not - Saddam could team up with Osama and conduct a joint terrorist operation against America using weapons of mass destruction."
In essence, Bush used the attacks of September 11 against the American people to gin up fear and dread, which he then used to push a war which did not need to be fought. Sperry, some devastating paragraphs later, concludes:
"Forget that Bush lied about the reasons for putting our sons and daughters in harm's way in Iraq; and forget that he sent 140,000 troops there with bull's-eyes on their backs, then dared their attackers to bring it on. It was the height of irresponsibility to have done so in the middle of a war on al-Qaida, the real and proven threat to America. Bush diverted those troops and other resources - including intelligence assets, Arabic translators and hundreds of billions of tax dollars - from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border. And now they've regrouped and are as threatening as ever. That's inexcusable, and Bush supporters with any intellectual honesty and concern for their own families' safety should be mad as hell about it - and that's coming from someone who voted for Bush."
Mr. Sperry, in all likelihood, will remember these gems:
"This is a man that we know has had connections with al-Qaida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qaida as a forward army." - Bush, October 14, 2002
"Yes, there is a linkage between al-Qaida and Iraq." - Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, September 26, 2002
"There have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al-Qaida going back for actually quite a long time." - National Security Advisor Rice, September 25, 2002
The list of lies this administration told is long and distinguished. The number of lies told specifically about Iraq - his claim in May that "We found the weapons of mass destruction," his claim that Iraq refused to let the inspectors in when they demonstrably had, his claims about Iraq procuring uranium from Niger, his claims that Iraq was a threatening nation capable of attacking within 45 minutes, the mobile weapons labs, the aluminum tubes story, the mushroom clouds - boggle the mind. A few more to consider:
* He lied about wanting Osama bin Laden "Dead or alive" in September of 2001 because he turned around that March and claimed bin Laden was of no importance.
* His National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, said, "We had no way of predicting that terrorists would hijack planes and crash them into buildings." This was a lie. I have spoken to several engineers in the building-building business. Large buildings, and especially large government buildings, are constructed with a number of potential catastrophes in mind. A purposefully crashed airplane has been on that hazard list for a very long time. This, in combination with the warnings given to this administration by foreign intelligence services that were specifically about hijacked aircraft being used as aerial bombs, makes the whole sordid excuse reek.
* He lied about making America a "humble nation," and lied about "changing the tone." America has virtually no friends left within the international community because we have been violently belligerent instead of humble. The cries of "Traitor!" against administration critics have certainly changed the tone, but for the worse.
* He said, "By far the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum." This was a fantastic lie. The tax cuts benefited the vast majority of very rich people across the entire spectrum of very rich people. Those truly at the bottom of the spectrum received a pittance, and have watched the social programs they depend on die from lack of funding, because said funding was squandered by the tax cuts. By the end of the decade, Bush's tax cuts will substantially increase the tax burden on middle-class families.
* He lied when he said he did not know Mr. Enron, Ken Lay, before 1996. Lay was one of Bush's most generous benefactors well before 1996. The number of lies told about the specifics of Bush's relationship to Lay and Enron, and the many ways Bush tried to rescue that criminal company, would require a list that stretches around the moon. When Bush said, "Ken who?" after being questioned by the press about his Enron connections, this stretched the definition of bold lying into impressive new shapes.
* He lied about the reasons for the attacks of September 11. It was "enemies who hate our freedom," and not a constellation of foreign policy decisions made by this administration as well as its predecessors reaching back before 1978, that caused the attack. This lie, in particular, is diabolical. An American populace who are not given the understanding that actions have consequences is an American populace that can be easily led into an unnecessary war in the Mideast.
* He lied when he took credit for a Patients Bill of Rights as Governor of Texas. In fact, he vetoed the bill. Likewise, he took credit for reforms to the Texas educational system that had been put in place by Ann Richards and Mark White, among others.
* He lied broadly and often about his military service, despite the fact that no one in his Texas Air National Guard unit can remember laying eyes on him for almost two years of his tour. "I've been to war. I've raised twins. Given a choice, I'd rather go to war," said Bush to the Houston Chronicle on January 27, 2002. Cute, George. Problem: You've never been to war. Liar. The swagger across the aircraft carrier, by default, is a nauseating lie as well.
* He lied to the entire city of New York, and to the cops, firefighters and EMTs in particular. He said the air in New York was fine after 9/11 when he knew from his EPA chief that it was poison. He promised vast new funding to the police, fire and EMT departments in New York. Not a dime has been provided. It all went to the tax cuts and the Iraq war...which means it went to Bush's wealthy allies and friends in the defense industry. Fancy that.
We would be here all day if this list were constructed to be comprehensive. The above is representative: George W. Bush has lied about September 11, the Iraq war, the economy, his record as governor of Texas, his relationship with corporate criminals, and his own military record. In short, he has lied day after day after day about all of the issues he and his administration claim to hold dear.
I do not hate George W. Bush merely for the sake of hatred, or because he is a Republican. I hate him because he is a cancer that is rotting out the guts of this country. I hate him because he would not know the truth if it crawled up his leg and grabbed him by the nose. Truth does not advance the profit motive.
For liberals who denounce the ABBA perspective as being without integrity, my response is simple. Voting for anyone who can remove Mr. Bush, his administration, and all of these deadly lies from the highest office in the land is an act of singular integrity and patriotism. All hail the baloney sandwich, and never mind the blasphemy.
William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times and international best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq," available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available from Pluto Press, and "Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in August from Context Books.
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