MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, in the latest in a series of scathing indictments of the Bush White House that's sure to get him fired before too long, said on Monday that this is “our worst presidency since James Buchanan.” We're no presidential scholars here at CityBeat, but we certainly don't have any cause to argue the point.
In a domestic agenda scripted by Karl Rove, Bush has favored industry to the detriment of the environment; implemented tax policies that have funneled more and more wealth into the bank accounts of the very rich while ignoring a skyrocketing national debt; waged war on all things scientific while shifting the Supreme Court toward the religious right; and attempted-successfully, so far-to rewrite the rules so that there's more unchecked, unilateral power in the Oval Office than ever before. Meanwhile, in a foreign agenda devised by Dick Cheney, Bush has wasted more than $317 billion (and counting) and sent 2,705 American military servicemen and women (as of Sept. 26) to their deaths amid an unnecessary and catastrophically executed war in Iraq that has plunged that country into brutally violent civil strife; spread American ill will throughout the world; and failed to finish what he started in Afghanistan after rousting the Taliban, who've returned to engage in battle the paltry American forces that remain.
Now come leaked reports that confirm what those of us whose eyes are open had previously concluded: According to a classified National Intelligence Estimate, which represents the collective opinion of the government's 16 intelligence agencies, the foolhardy war in Iraq has worsened the threat of terrorism around the world. (Incidentally, this huge piece of front-page-above-the-fold-worthy news was buried on Page A23 in the San Diego Union-Tribune; a brief summary of the story was relegated to the penultimate page in the Sunday paper, nestled among other “The Fight for Iraq” news and apparently deemed less important than a stale story on condo conversions and a piece about a football game that had yet to be played.)
Why is it news? For starters, it dismantles the very foundation of Bush's stated modus operandi, his contention that Iraq is a crucial front in the war on terror-which was a fabrication to begin with-and that his foreign policies have made Earth a safer place to live. Precisely the opposite is true. This is the silver bullet the Democrats need to take Congress and rescue the country from the dastardly clutches of Rove and Cheney. We hope the Dems learn how to load it into a gun before Nov. 8.
We can hear the apologists now: Wasn't it the National Intelligence Estimate in 2002 that got it all wrong regarding Saddam Hussein's arsenal of WMD? Yep. But many of the folks who hastily compiled that report have said that they were pressured by the office of the vice president to reach predetermined conclusions using evidence that was flimsy at best, flat-out false at worst. Even Bush reportedly asked then-CIA Director George Tenet if that's all there was. Nevertheless, once they received the dubious report, high-level administration officials leaked bits of it to the New York Times' Judith Miller, who dutifully reported them as truth. In turn, those same officials would then appear on the Sunday talk shows and refer to Miller's stories-about uranium that was never purchased in Niger, aluminum tubes that were not for creating nuclear weapons and meetings between terrorist Mohammed Atta and Iraqi officials that never happened-as they made the case for war to the public. And then Colin Powell told the United Nations Security Council about the trailers that were not mobile weapons labs. That's how The Big Lie worked.
We've said it many times before: The terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001, gave Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld the political cover they needed to attack Iraq and topple Saddam, which was an obsession of theirs since Bush the Elder left the Iraqi insurrection to be slaughtered by Saddam in 1991.
At any rate, these are Bush's own people in these intelligence outfits. This is a fantastic development for those of us who want the Democrats to unseat the Republicans so they can genuinely investigate the lies and deadly misdeeds of the Bush administration and stop its assault on the U.S. Constitution.
Of course, we may be doomed if we don't do something about goofy local TV reporters who distill national news for millions of people nationwide. On Monday night, as she was reporting on a civilly disobedient street-theater anti-war protest in downtown San Diego, KGTV's 10 News reporter Juliette Vara ended her segment by saying that while the protesters do not support the war, “obviously,” many people do, which seemed to suggest that those against the war are still on the fringe. Vara's editors might want to break the news to her that more Americans now oppose the war than support it. No wonder it's taking so long for the public to get the picture.