Bush&Co. Want Us to "Move On" --
So Why Not Take Him Up on It?
By Bernard Weiner, Co-Editor,
The Crisis Papers
March 16, 2004
As we all know, Bush&Co. act forcefully, aggressively, arrogantly, in both
the domestic and foreign arenas. They don't seem to care if what they do is
based on lies, or immorality, or illegalities. Once the deed has been done,
the Bushies say it's senseless to look back and examine how those decisions
were made. That's old history, it's time to "move on."
As Bush himself has suggested, whether his Administration gave true or false
reasons for going to war is not the issue -- he blithely said "What's the
difference?" The supposed biological and chemical weapons ready to be used
on U.S. troops and delivered by drone planes to the U.S. mainland, the
supposed nuclear bombs that could be detonated over American cities, the
supposed close links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden -- all these
constantly-repeated charges are, according to Bush, no longer worth
discussing. "What's the difference?"
But to members of Congress and to us ordinary American citizens in the
run-up to the war, those reasons -- delivered as proven facts by the likes
of Cheney, Bush, Rice, Powell and Rumsfeld -- were accepted as genuine. Not
only did it turn out that those assertions that took us to war were untrue,
but now we're told that they don't really matter, anyway. According to Bush
and his cronies, the war happened, Iraq is occupied, and it's time to "move
on," nothing to see here, folks.
You see how the magic trick is performed. First, you make the war
"inevitable," then you make the United Nations and other protesting agencies
and allies "irrelevant" because, you see, the war is "inevitable." And then,
once you've launched the war and got lots of people killed and maimed, then
-- according to this non-logic -- it doesn't make any sense to keep debating
the rightness or wrongness or morality or practicality of what you did. It's
a done deal, and the U.S. citizenry needs to "move on."
This is the same Bush&Co. that, in true conservative fashion, talk endlessly
about the need for folks to assume personal accountability and
responsibility for their actions. (They're even pushing a "Personal
Responsibility" bill right now, with regard to food-consumption.) But
personal responsibility is for the other people, the little people. Bush
never assumes responsibility for anything that goes wrong on his watch. If
he's forced to admit that "mistakes were made" -- notice the intransitive
language -- he'll find a scapegoat to take the hit.
As a matter of fact, as many have noted, the mantra of Bush's election
campaign in 2004 appears to be: "It's not my fault." The economy is lagging,
the Occupation is a deadly mess, millions of jobs have disappeared, the
treasury is beset by humongous deficits -- all those may be in a terrible
state, but, in Bush's view, I inherited the awfulness, you won't find my
fingerprints on any of the murder weapons, let's just "move on."
Who's to blame? It's the "intelligence community," or the gays, or the
protesters, et al. -- and, when things are really dicey, it's the
"terrorists." Or if you're really desperate, of course, it's Bill Clinton
who ate my homework.
CHALABI SPILLS THE BEANS
Bush (for good reasons) usually avoids answering questions about his
Administration's culpability in the various major problems affecting the
nation. But others connected to Bush often are much more direct and honest
in dealing with the lies and manipulations upon which so much of Bush policy
One such is Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, the exile
opposition group that supplied much of the distorted, exaggerated,
mendacious "intelligence" on Iraq to Rumsfeld and his PNAC boys at the
Pentagon -- and to New York Times reporter/propagandist Judith Miller. (By
the way, the Pentagon, even after Chalabi's lies have been demonstrated, is
still paying him and his group millions of our tax dollars. Why do you
suppose that is?)
Chalabi -- who is a convicted (in absentia) felon in Jordan for a wide
variety of fraudulent activities -- makes no bones about how he operates.
Look, he said in essence, we were doomed to remain in exile forever unless
we could get the U.S. or some major military force to invade and topple
Saddam. So we told a few fibs about the supposed WMD and Al Qaida link. Big
deal. The only thing that matters to us is that we're back on Iraqi soil and
are working ourselves into positions of power. We had to do what he had to
do. Move on.
Here's Chalabi's amazing admission about his exiles: "As far as we're
concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and
the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."
The Bush Administration's same "move-on" advice is being given these days
with regard to the recent "regime change" in Haiti. It's simply not
important to look at how Mr. Aristide came to depart his island nation, the
Bush Administration says. The "inevitable" happened, it's a done deal, no
looking back, there's a new government now, let's just move on, folks. What
was said before is not important.
SO WE LIED, SO WHAT?
Bush&Co. are so blatantly Machiavellian in their manipulations. If you'd
don't like what we did, so what? So we lied, what are you going to do about
it, you weak-kneed liberal scum? You going to try to impeach us? Don't make
us laugh. You think Kerry and his wussy democratic base can take us down?
You ain't seen nothing yet. We've got all sorts of dirt to spread and
surprise rabbits to pull out of our Rove magic hat.
There's another variation of the "move on" scenario employed by Bush and his
cronies to handle the accountability/responsibility problem. If you're
backed into a corner about your misdeeds or incompetencies, and the press
and opposition are calling for probes to get to the bottom of the mess, you
head them off at the pass: You investigate yourself.
Governor Grope-inator in California did this explicitly after 16 women
accused him of various forms of sexual battery; he said he'd hire a private
investigator after the election to probe the allegations. That is, he'd be
in charge of investigating himself. But even that was too much for the
governor. A short while later, Schwarzenegger "concluded that there was very
little point to the investigation," said his press secretary, so Arnold
simply closed up the probe, saying that the time had come to move on. Being
one's own prosecutor, judge and jury -- neat, yes?
The same pattern repeats on the national level: You decide which malleable
leaders will head up the "independent" investigations, you name the key
members and appoint the chairmen of the probe, give them a very
circumscribed mandate, make sure that nobody appears under oath, and then,
if they ever get around to asking for key documents and frank interviews,
you stonewall like crazy, thus ensuring that their report can only be a
partial one -- and won't appear, in any case, until after the next election.
We've watched the Bush cabal do a monstrous variant with regard to Cheney's
secret energy task force -- the term "stonewall" wouldn't do this one
justice; it's more like a total and complete refusal to cooperate, with
anyone, the courts, the Congress, the press, God, whomever. Too much
explosive material (we already know that some of the deliberations had to do
with Iraq and oil) to risk it getting out.
A more traditional example would be the 9/11 "independent commission," the
"intelligence" commission, and the Plamegate probe.
PACKING THE "COURT"
It took several years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to finally generate
enough civic momentum to get a commission named to probe what happened. (You
may recall that Cheney went to Congressional leaders and, using the
"national security" dodge, requested that Congress not investigate pre-9/11
knowledge.) Eventually, Bush&Co. had to establish such an "independent"
commission, but made sure to appoint a whole raft of folks, including the
chair and executive director, whom they believed wouldn't make waves; made
sure nobody would testify under oath; made sure to evade and delay sending
answers to key questions. In short, the Administration was taking the old
Nixon route: a "modified, limited hangout" -- in other words, a stonewall.
And it still goes on: Condoleezza Rice refuses to testify in public or under
oath, Bush and Cheney won't testify in public or under oath, Bush will talk
not to the commission but only to the chair and vice-chair -- originally
just for one hour, but the public outcry was so intense that he's backed
down from that unhelpful position.
The fallacious "intelligence" presented by Bush&Co. to justify their
decision to attack Iraq is so far from reality that Bush felt that he had to
bow to public and Congressional cries for an investigation into what went
wrong and why. But the commissioners, appointed by Bush, are not to examine
executive decision-making and are to issue their report after the November
election in any case. Break out the whitewash for a coverup job
extraordinaire. (Of course, Bush could go another route. He could take chief
weapons inspector David Kay's advice: "It's about confronting and coming
clean with the American people...He [Bush] should say: `We were mistaken and
I am determined to find out why'." But that will happen when pigs sprout
Or take the case of CIA operative Valerie Plame, who was feloniously outed
by "two senior Administration officials" after her husband, Ambassador
Joseph Wilson IV, wrote an article criticizing Bush for including the Niger
uranium lie in his State of the Union address. If he'd wanted to, Bush could
have learned the identities of those two officials in less than ten minutes
and disciplined them on the spot -- but he did nothing.
Instead, Bush made sure that no special prosecutor would be appointed to
investigate this "treasonous" act (that adjective comes from President
George Herbert Walker Bush, who said anyone who would reveal a CIA
operative's name was committing treason), and left it to Attorney General
John Ashcroft and his associates to manage the in-house probe. We're still
waiting, and you can bet that if indictments are delivered, lower-level
officials will take the fall for those in power who were at the genesis of
There are numerous other examples of key Bush officials avoiding
responsibility for their actions -- Rumsfeld, for example, shifting the
blame from his own Office of Special Plans to the CIA for the intelligence
lies that led the country into the Iraq war -- but you get the picture.
These guys will do anything, say anything, blame anybody but themselves for
their misdeeds, incompetencies and illegalities. The whole object at this
juncture is to do or say whatever is necessary in order to win the November
election; after their presumed victory, the gloves can come off and their
original extreme agenda will be back in play.
John Kerry's campaign should be sure to focus on those areas where Bush has
avoided, and continues to avoid, taking responsibility for his actions. In
short, the November election should be, at least in part, a referendum on
that principle of personal accountability for one's decisions -- in Bush's
case, most of which were incorrect or based on manipulative deceptions. If
the Democratic campaign is steady and forthright and unrelenting in this
regard, and because Americans do not like to be lied to so openly, Bush will
face the ultimate rejection by the citizenry on November 2nd: impeachment
and conviction by the ballot.
In the meantime, we should "move on" for real -- move on to the streets for
mass anti-Administration demonstrations such as the one coming up this
Saturday, and move on to signing up, as two million of our fellow citizens
already have done, with MoveOn.org --
that creative activist group that is giving the Bush-Cheney campaign such
fits with their super TV ads and other activities.
Let's MoveOn, indeed!
Copyright 2004, by Bernard Weiner