by Joyce Marcel
a recent on-line column at Forbes.com, author and reporter David Brooks says that reporters expect to have a hard time covering the Bush II White House because of its "closed nature."
"Bush administration members ... regard journalists as servants if they are useful and vermin if they are not," Brooks said.
This does not surprise me. During the Gulf War, it was Dick Cheney who came up with the brilliant idea of penning up all the war correspondents like sheep, feeding them on press releases and videotapes instead of grass, and keeping them at least one country away from the real war.
Because of that outrageous act of censorship, I was surprised when the press didn't rise up with one voice to tar and feather Bush II when he made Cheney his choice for Veep.
They even had the tar: the Constitution forbids the president and vice president to come from the same state. Cheney may have moved his mailing address north after he received the nomination, but he never moved his household. He never even changed the license plates on his car.
So as a result of the sheep-like behavior of the press, we now have not only an illegal president but an illegal vice president. Maybe the press enjoyed life in the pen; maybe they want four more years?
But since the press, which is supposed to represent us, the people, seems to have abdicated its responsibilities, and since the Bush staff has nothing but contempt for it anyway, and since Bush II himself speaks only in vapid generalities, it is clear that we are not going to hear much truth about our government in the next four years.
As Joan Vennochi wrote in the Boston Sunday Globe (January 21, 2001), there is "a continuing sense of disconnect between the words and images associated with the new Bush administration."
me, then, to offer myself as a translator and interpreter of Bush's Inaugural Address.
"The call for civility." Let's see. The Republicans, furious that Clinton kicked Bush I out of office, spent the next eight years trying to get him in any way that they could.
By the end of Clinton's second term, they had wasted over $41 million of taxpayers money, chased after a man for committing a marital fidelity that most of them have also committed, and come up with virtually no punishable offenses or corruption. Now that Bush's party has injected raw hatred into the American political discourse, Bush says, "Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos."
In other words, if the Democrats behave now the way the Republicans have behaved for the last eight years, we can blame them for bringing something as dreaded as "chaos." Frankly, I think cynicism is the only rational choice here.
Americans should be "responsible citizens, building ... a nation of character.... If we do not turn the hearts of our children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism."
What Bush means by character is that he (probably) won't solicit oral sex from a female secretary in the Oval Office. But there are other measures of a man's character, such as not being seen as trampling on the Constitution in a naked grab for power.
The whole country watched Bush's men steal the election for him. Many of us were naive enough to expect him to step in and demand that all the votes be counted, let the chips fall where they may, for the good of the nation and the legitimacy of his administration. He did not do that.
That certainly undermined the idealism of most of the children I know, who up until a few months ago, believed we lived in a democracy. It also undermined mine. I can't stop feeling like a virgin who has just been raped by the U.S. Supreme Court. So I can't really accept Bush II as a man of character, much less as a moral leader.
"We will reform Social Security... sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent."
One thing we certainly have the power to prevent is putting the Social Security fund into the volatile, uncertain and currently tanking stock market, which is exactly what Bush wants to do with it.
"We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge. We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors."
There are no real challenges right now to the power of the United States. But building the Star Wars machinery will put us squarely up against Russia and China and could start the Cold War all over again. Rumblings of this can already be heard abroad.
"America at its best is compassionate."
How many men did he kill in Texas? 147?
"And the proliferation of prisons, however necessary, is no substitute for hope and order in our souls."
He misspoke here. He meant to say "the proliferation of prisons, however profitable..."
Prisons are big business, but they also serve another useful function for Republicans. Convicted felons lose their right to vote. A large majority of American prisoners are African-American and Hispanic, who as a group tend to vote Democratic. Do the math.
"Church and charity, synagogue and mosque, lend our communities their humanity, and they will have an honored place in our plans and in our laws."
Say good-bye to the hallowed notion of the separation of church and state.
And why? Could it be that when religious charities take over society's functions, the tax bills of the very rich drop?
"I ask you to seek a common good."
By whose definition? Over 60 percent of the population, for example, support Roe vs. Wade. The "common people" know damn well what's in the "common good." Be prepared, however, for obnoxious Supreme Court nominations and a major attempt to outlaw abortion in total defiance of the "common good."
About the illegitimacy of this administration, the Sunday New York Times (January 21, 2001) said: "The debate is likely to grow softer as the nation grows accustomed to pictures of Mr. Bush speaking from the Oval Office, boarding Air Force One, accompanied everywhere he goes by the strains of ... 'Hail to the Chief.' In the television age, those images, more than anything else, confer the mantle of authority and legitimacy on a leader."
I say to hell with that. And to hell with the media (especially the New York Times), which will be spoon-feeding us those images for four long years, all the while abandoning their loudly proclaimed "objectivity" by failing to report in every story about Bush, that, until the end of his presidency, over half the people in this nation do not believe that he has the right to be president.
Just say no to civility.
January 29, 2001 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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