Brutally Honest Audio Rant: Political Failures – Part 1
(Computer – Introduction)
(Music intro – “American Idiot Remix” – by Green Day and David Matthews 2)
Good evening and welcome to this week’s Brutally Honest Rant. I’m David Matthews 2, writer of the weekly online column Brutally Honest.
Well tonight I have the first of a four-part miniseries about political failures. This is my list of things that I hate about our current political system.
Now before I get into this list, I want to get a few things out of the way…
First of all, this miniseries is broken into four parts so I can go down my list of things that I think each group has so far failed to do. I don’t want you to think that I’m giving any group any kind of preferential treatment, because right now I’m thoroughly disgusted with ALL of them.
Second, I KNOW that I’m going to piss off some folks in going over this list, because I’m going to be pointing fingers at pretty much the whole lot in Washington. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, neo-conservatives… nobody there is safe from my scrutiny.
So if you’re one of those people… and you know who I’m talking about… who gets pissed off when I start talking trash about certain parts of the Washington crowd and fire off angry emails, take a deep breath, count to ten, and wait a week, because I’m hitting both dominant political factions.
So here we go…
The first group in Washington that I have to talk about is the executive branch… the White House. And YES that includes Vice President Dick Cheney! But I’ll get more into that in a bit.
I have to say that when it comes to the White House under George W. Bush, I have given them plenty of slack. I didn’t start out like the liberals did by saying that the GOP “stole” the election back in 2000. It was a fiasco all around, and part of me was GLAD that Al Gore didn’t win it. I gave them plenty of opportunity to prove my political skepticism wrong. I gave him four years of proving me wrong. That’s four years more than I gave Bill Clinton, and that was long before I even got INTO online commentary!
The tax cuts? A drop in the bucket of what needed to be done. I was pissed off over how the two rebate checks were provided for as well. They weren’t rebates on PAST taxes; they were an advance payment over our FUTURE tax refund – if we got one. Sneaky bastards. But, hey, I let that one slide because the rest of the package was going to help us all out in the long run.
Unfortunately, they stuck an expiration date on it. But having that in there, and keeping it intact, was really the fault of another group that I’ll get into in part three of this series.
The first political failure for the White House was their handling of the so-called “War on Terror”.
Now it is one thing to be alert, and to be prepared, and to actually DO something about terrorism; it is another thing entirely to use fear-mongering as a wedge to get what you want. And “9/11” was used as the universal catchall phrase to browbeat and intimidate and silence any criticism of the White House and their policies.
You can’t question the White House... because of “9/11”. Any bill they send to Congress needs to get passed, and passed immediately… because of “9/11”.
The USA PATRIOT Act, the 21st Century equivalent of the Alien and Sedition Acts, was passed by Congress SIGHT UNSEEN because of “9/11”. And if you questioned any provision that HAPPENED to leak out or was proposed, you were accused of aiding the terrorists! Anyone remember John Ashcroft’s McCarthy-like threat to anyone who questioned the White House about – to use his words – “the phantoms of lost liberties”? Turns out they weren’t really “phantoms”, were they? Oh but that didn’t matter either… because of “9/11”.
That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the tenure. Authoritarian, evangelical, arrogant, self-righteous, my-way-or-we-all-frigging-DIE. It didn’t matter what the issue was… runaway federal spending, bailing out the airlines, cracking down on corporate abuses, everything became a “9/11” issue. And if you questioned the White House on ANY of these issues, then your very love of this country was challenged!
And yes, that even included the recent discussion on immigration reform, where the president himself had the utter audacity to question the patriotism of the very CONSERVATIVES that have been his water-carriers all these years, not just biting the hand that fed his ego, but essentially bitch-slapping it.
Disagreement and dissent became de facto CRIMES, and that, in and of itself, is the biggest of the political FAILURES committed by this White House.
How this White House dealt with Afghanistan is yet another failure. The initial assault and takeover of that country was masterful. But then we let the Taliban run away instead of exterminating them like the vermin they are, and then we let the local tribal chiefs – who had previously pledged their undying support for Osama bin PigBastard – to bring Osama in, and then we had to watch as they pulled a Three Stooges act and LET him escape. We should have turned that whole area into the world’s biggest crater, but we didn’t. Instead we have a President who actually said that he doesn’t really “think much” about the fact that we haven’t caught Osama yet. THAT, I find quite disturbing for someone who has sold us this notion that we should sacrifice everything that America’s founding fathers set up because of “9/11”.
Iraq is another issue. I have said in the past and still believe today that going there was inevitable. I wished that we had dealt with Afghanistan first, but that wasn’t my call to make. In fact, we got goaded into it. But we got there, and we won the war. That was something I actually compliment this president for doing. He didn’t stop with just some bombs here and there and some ground troops as his father did and as Bill Clinton did. He actually got rid of Saddam Hussein.
Now we have a hard time winning the peace. And here is where the real failure comes in, and where the White House is losing supporters right and left: we have a president who does not want to tell us when our job there is done. We were sold on this idea that this was going to be a cakewalk. We’d go in, kick ass, get Saddam out of power, put a new government into power, and then that’s it and we’d go home. That is what the American people were sold on.
Instead, we have a president who has sent troops there for two, three, and even four tours. The time home gets shorter and shorter and the time there gets longer and longer. Anyone who remembers the old movie “Catch-22” can tell you that isn’t a good thing. The White House doesn’t really put pressure on the new Iraq government to their part to “stand up” so we can “stand down”, and they are actually comparing our stay there to the fifty-plus years that we have been in guarding the De-Militarized Zone between North and South Korea. If the president wants to know why he’s losing support for Iraq from all corners, THIS is why!
All the American people want to know is when this is no longer our burden to bear. It doesn’t have to be a calendar date, but at least tell us what REALISTIC CONDITIONS are needed for us to start bringing troops home. This president’s inability to convey that to the American people in a way that they can understand is a serious political failure for him.
For someone who said just the other day that he didn’t want to be a “war president”, George W. Bush certainly appears to enjoy playing it to the hilt.
Obviously how this White House handled Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is a HUGE scathing failure for them. I’m sorry that Mother Nature didn’t check with the White House schedule to hit when the President wasn’t on vacation, but at a time when solid leadership was NEEDED, President Bush instead went to a fundraiser in San Diego and got guitar lessons from Esteban. The effects of Hurricane Katrina were literally felt all across the country, but the President felt it was better to spend his time raising political money and clearing brush and getting bike tips. Leadership was needed at that point – and not just in areas directly affected by the hurricane – and leadership was lacking. That will always be a significant failure for this White House.
We have a White House that is obsessed with secrecy for their business affairs, and yet at the same time has systematically destroyed any kind of privacy for other Americans. They say “trust us” when it comes to their actions, but they obviously don’t hold the same trust for us. Identity theft is a serious issue, and could easily be considered a major security issue for this country, but trying to validate and reinforce any kind of privacy for the average American is next to impossible because the White House wants to be able to look into OUR lives without any kind of accountability or limitation. And then they turn around and stonewall any attempt by others to look into THEIR own activities, saying only that they haven’t “broken any laws” and that we should just “trust them” on it. Guess what that’s called? It’s called HYPOCRISY!
And now, of course, we have a White House that is mired in SCANDAL. A White House that thought nothing of trying to get a political crony like Harriet Meirs appointed to the Supreme Court. A White House that asserts that it did “nothing wrong” and broke “no laws” when they leaked to their friends in the media the fact that Valerie Wilson, aka Valerie Plame, worked in the CIA, but yet did everything in their power to keep the knowledge of those players away from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. If they did “nothing wrong”, then why did Scooter Libby work so hard to conceal that from the special prosecutor, and was willing to go to PRISON for it? I haven’t seen this much brain-twisting since “Twin Peaks” went off the air.
Of course the commutation of Scooter’s prison sentence – another slap in the face of the judicial system – was another sign of political failure. And conservative have absolutely, positively NO JUSTIFICATION WHATSOEVER to invoke Bill Clinton’s midnight pardons as an excuse for this. Clinton waited until the last minute of his tenure to pardon people like Susan McDougal, and they WERE wearing prison orange when it happened! Bush Junior didn’t even wait for Scooter to make it to the jail before he decided to overrule the judicial system and free him. Sure it was well within his right to do that, but that still doesn’t MAKE it right.
And these are supposed to be “moral” people! They’re supposed to know better! They’re supposed to know the difference between having the right to do something and being right in doing it.
We have a Vice President who invokes executive privilege to keep his clandestine energy meetings secret, and then, through his shyster lawyer, claim on the very same subject that he’s not even a member of the executive branch of government! And because of those clandestine energy meetings, we got stuck with a real LEMON of an energy policy in 2005.
And speaking of that lemon of an energy policy… REAL leadership doesn’t mean conducting still more endless research! And it doesn’t mean setting fuel efficiency standards that are so abysmal and covering for an unrealistic timeframe that they become meaningless. Bush Junior should have gone to those automakers and told them they had until January of 2009 – NOT 2012 or 2020 – to get the fuel efficiency levels up! And to hell with the showcases with all the alternatives – get those alternative fuel vehicles OUT of the photo-ops and INTO the garages of the American people! SAYING that America is addicted to oil and actually DOING something significant about it are two different things, and so far on this subject our White House is just spewing empty words and pushing meaningless policy.
Let’s get brutally honest here… what we have right now is a White House that is desperately trying to stay credible and relevant. They know that they don’t have to run for re-election again, so they feel that they don’t have to care about the American people. All they have to do is keep pissing off Democrats, keep from getting convicted or impeached, and tread water so that they can leave on schedule in January 2009.
It’s understandable, then, why the media and the politicians want us to be thinking about the 2008 elections already. They don’t want to have to deal with the current White House occupants for the last two years of their tenure, and watch them tread political water and weasel their way to that magical day of January 2009 when, just like their predecessors, they can breath a sigh of relief when they can board Air Force One for the last time and realize that they got away with all that they did.
And that’s all that matters to them right now. This is all just a game to them. It’s all about how much they can get away with without getting impeached. They don’t have to care about anything else. All that matters is passing the time away, supporting what little of their base is left, and continuing to spread this myth that they are the greatest thing to happen to the political arena since Ronald Reagan left office. It would all be laughable if not for the fact that this is not some lame Comedy Central sitcom.
(Computer – Some appropriate clips on the subject. Too bad you’re too lazy to hear them. They’re cute.)
(Fade Music In – “Mythodea” by Vangelis)
Well folks, like I said, this is just Part One of this four-part look at political failures. And before some of you start accusing me of being a liberal, you might want to wait another week… because Part Two will deal with the Congressional Democrats. If you thought my criticism of the Bush White House was harsh, you haven’t heard anything yet.
Brutally Honest is a Get Brutal production; all opinions expressed are those of the commentator, and may or may not be shared by the online provider. This is David Matthews 2 saying good night, and I’ll speak with you soon!
(Computer – Ending/“End of Recording”)
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