BUSH’S EPIC COLLAPSE
By Martin Petersen
[This article “Bush am Ende?” published in: Ossietzky, 4/28/2007 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.linksnet.de/artikel.php?id=2997
The conservative US news magazine Time already chose George W. Bush “person of the year” twice in this millennium. Today a Time commentator sees the “epic collapse” of one of the “worst [administrations] of American history.” Bush – “a leader strikingly incapable of leading” – has three prominent characteristics that also define his whole administration: “arrogance, incompetence and cynicism.” The rebuked reacts with one of his hardly pleasant qualities: self-irony. At a dinner speech before journalists, Bush joked: “A year ago my support was 30+ percent, my candidate for the Supreme Court had to back down and my vice-president shot someone – that was a great time.” Whoever as president of the mightiest economic and military power celebrated past disastrous poll results, the failure of a great political project and a hunting accident with a fatal consequence has nothing to laugh about in the present. He lost the money, power, sympathy and confidence of the elites of his country. No wonder such a man ends on the public whipping post.
In the fall of 2004, four of five US historians said President Bush jr. failed in his first term in office. More than 400 of them participated in a survey of the academic History News Network. Twelve percent were convinced he was the worst US president of all time. This academic assessment has become a fact of everyday life in the past 30 months. Bush’s tactic that he described in a Time interview as a “catastrophic success” is the tactic of a powerful victory threatened by dreadful setbacks. “We won so fast we must keep fighting” could be the motto of his whole presidency. In this sense Bush is at an end and his political survival is near ruin.
If Bush serves to the end of his second term in office, he has to leave the White House in January 2009. He will make decisions that can only be called criminal. For a long while there have been good reasons to stop Bush’s intrigues with an impeachment process: his justification of offensive wars, the breach of international treaties in torture prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, violation of constitutional rights for years through illegal spying on countless US telephones and e-mails, war attacks on civilians, journalists, hospitals and ambulances with illegal weapons from enriched uranium and white phosphorus. Nevertheless Nancy Pelosi, the democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, said an impeachment proceeding against the president was “off the table.” With a simple majority, the democrats could charge Bush with malfeasance or misconduct in office but a two-thirds majority in the Senate would be necessary for a condemnation. In the Senate, 49 of 100 senators are republicans.
A majority of the republican senators would only agree with an impeachment proceeding against their conservative president if Bush attacked the Holy of Holies of US civil religion, the US constitutional order codified by the founding fathers. However Bush is doing just that with the help of the “Unitary Executive Theory.” His office evades all checks and controls by other constitutional organs. He does this by a record number of 750 “signing statements” – statements on presidential signing of new laws – giving him a partial veto against laws he doesn’t like. According to attorney John Yoo, the most important legal advisor of the president, Bush can wage any war at any time against anyone without being bound to any laws. In a public discussion Yoo said no treaty or law can hinder the president in torturing people – or forcing statements for example by mashing the testicles of the children of these prisoners. Even genocide would be constitutional according to the Unitary Executive Theory.
Yoo sees Bush’s dismissal of eight disagreeable federal prosecutors – high political employees of the justice machine – with obviously false reasons as a trifle. The president doesn’t accept any reason for his colleagues to answer questions from congress. That millions of e-mails of his administration were illegally erased including some desired by congress to clear up affairs was only a technical error, according to Bush’s press secretary.
Up to January 2009, Bush can still carry off many of his catastrophic victories. The whole world hopes he doesn’t win.