Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Very Bad American

Bush is an un-American SOB, period.

Last Chance Democracy Café:

In the years that have followed Sep. 11, 2001, George W. Bush has, of course, repeatedly manipulated the fear Americans feel over terrorism for political gain. He does this in a particularly reprehensible way — working to actually stoke, rather than to retard, the fear, so that he can use it as a tool for turning one American against another. Then, like some evil alien parasite from a Star Trek episode, he’s feasts on the resulting hatred to his political benefit.

A great American president once said — and yes, it’s become a cliché, but sometimes only a cliché will do — that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Bush, of course, has consistently taken the opposite approach, teaching us to embrace our fears until they’ve become part of every drop of our national lifeblood.

And it’s worked like a charm. Under his tender mercies, America often seems to have redefined itself from a powerful (if far from consistent) model for the possibilities of freedom, into a frightened little child. We seem all too willing to do anything — up to and including betraying our most sacred rights — in a vain attempt to beat back the monster in the closet.

It’s been a long and tiresome journey: the endless manufacturing of terrorism alerts at just the right moment to be politically helpful, the demonizing of opponents as being disloyal to America and, worse yet, as being friends to the terrorists, the refusal to ever engage in good faith political compromise, but instead to demand all or nothing, with nothing always portrayed as a gift to those who are seeking to harm us.

There is some good news, however: fear, it turns out, has a limited shelf life. As I said recently, “But the thing about being scared all the time is that people will only cower in fear for so long before saying, screw it, and getting on with their lives.” And sure enough, Bush’s political manipulation of the fear of terrorism is starting to lose its punch: so much so, in fact, that House Democrats are actually showing signs of fighting back.

Bush, being the one act wonder he is, of course, is doing the only thing he can in response — turning up the volume on the same old scare tactics. [snip]

Every word of this is a lie, of course. Delaying (or even withholding altogether) adoption of the FISA legislation won’t put America at risk. US intelligence agencies have all of the authority they need to conduct necessary surveillance without the statute. And as others have noted, even if there were some increased risk, the blame would rest squarely on Bush’s shoulders for holding the bill hostage to his demands for retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies.

We’ve lived through almost seven years of “terrorism baiting” now. To be honest, Bush has lost his capacity to shock me. But if the surprise is gone from him, the shame isn’t.

And it is a shame that will stain him for however long people bother to remember his name.

The point, you see, isn’t that history will eventually judge him to have been a very bad president, which, of course, it will — probably the worst ever. No, what he should really be worried about is that history will judge him to have been a very bad American.

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