Presidency is This, Anyway?
January 7, 2003
By Sheila Samples
month, actor Robert Redford got me to thinking. Actually,
every time I see Robert Redford, I get to thinking--but that's
Redford, long an environmental activist, pointed out in the
Dec. 8 New York Times Magazine that "nearly every statement
coming from this administration includes the phrase The
American People." Redford says when he hears these words,
he just substitutes "industrial interests" so that he can
understand what's really going on. Redford has a point. Peel
away the tangled layers of inane verbage that flow effortlessly
from Geedubya Bush as he erratically steers the Good Ship
U.S. Lollypop through troubled waters toward menacing, craggy
shoals, you ultimately end up with Redford's "industrial interests,"
or The Corporate American People.
Other phrases that Dubya tirelessly repeats are so imprecise
they have no meaning whatever. Empty phrases such as "called
by history to do battle," "war on terror," "seize the opportunity,"
and "all options are on the table" are each so amorphous they
defy analysis. Many Dubya supporters go to great lengths to
explain what he "probably means" when he babbles incoherently.
Some just grin like idiot inbred kids on a bridge in Deliverance,
and maniacally wave their dueling flags. Others, to their
credit, have the decency and intelligence to merely shrug
and move on rather than attempt to decipher or defend such
childish, belicose blather.
But back to Redford... Dubya literally brandishes The
American People phrase like a patriotic shield, which
not only cloaks what he's doing to the American people on
virtually every Constitutional front, but gives him license
to do it. How does a massive tax cut to the top 1 percent
of the population benefit Americans? How does trashing centuries
of international treaties, slashing regulatory controls on
corporations, smashing the environmental protections protect
Americans--make the homeland more secure?
In the aftermath of the atrocity of Sept. 11, Dubya--under
the tutelage and control of an invisible but still really
really scary Dick Cheney--seized the opportunity to cripple
the legislative branch, ridicule and neuter the investigative
arm of government, manipulate and control the judicial branch,
shred the Constitution and Bill of Rights and terrify the
rest of the world with impulsive threats of annihiliation...I
have no idea where the voices in Dubya's head originate, but
I daresay they're not hissing at him through the annuals of
history. They're more likely being channeled through him from
some dank, dark, secret undisclosed location--all, of course,
in the name of The American People.
Author Tim Dickinson, obviously on the same wave length with
Redford, listed some of the more obvious references in a Dec.
23 Mother Jones article.
Dickinson shows that the tendency to use Americans as human
shields began on inauguration day when Dubya magnanimously
acknowledged, "The presidency does not belong to any one person...
It belongs to The American People."
After a good night's sleep, however, the lure of all that
surplus money lying around and increasing pressure from corporate
lobbyists to "pay up" jerked Dub to his senses and, scarcely
a month into his presidency, he was out hawking for his trillion-dollar
tax cut..."My budget will fund our priorities, from education
to defense to protecting Social Security and Medicare. It
will pay down our national debt. And when we have done all
that, we will still have some money left over. I strongly
believe we should return that money, the leftover money, to
you, The American People, in the form of tax relief."
Three months later, tax-cut in hand, Dubbie crowed, "This
is a historic day... We have done right by The American
People today..." Few noticed that, as the history of the
Reagan era called Dubya to seize the tax-cut opportunity,
he had but one option on the table--raiding the treasury and
transferring this country's resources to corporate wolves
who were snarling and scratching at the door. From that moment,
Dub was loath to share the office--or its power--with anyone,
and certainly not the American people...
Dubya sailed through the first two years of his unelected
regime, safe as a frolicking cub under the protective and
watchful eye of its media mama bear. Under the auspices of
protecting the American people, he seized every opportunity
and used every option on the table to enrich corporate America,
from a second massive tax cut (now called a stimulus plan),
to a mean-spirited faith-based initiative, to an astonishing
expansion of the defense industry, to the destructive and
intrusive Homeland Security Bill.
In the mid-terms, after an all-out intimidation assault on
voters, voting machines skewing the numbers to the right,
Blacks and other minorities encouraged to vote two- to five-days
after the election, personal-destruction advertising, and
blocking release of exit-poll information, Republicans managed
to eke out a 2-percent (21%-19%) edge over the whimpering,
please-don't-kill-me-I'll-do-anything Democrats. At last!
A landslide victory--a mandate from The American
People--the keys to the kingdom!
Now, as Dubya prepares to set sail on the second leg of his
executive journey, he rules via Executive Order and Congressional
sleight-of-hand over domestic America from the Little White
House of Horrors--literally preying on the most vulnerable
among us. Who will tell the American people that nearly a
half-million families will be without heat this winter because
Dubya cut $300 million from the federal subsidy program? How
many parents would allow their children to be vaccinated if
they knew the possible medical problems that could result;
if they knew that, thanks to Dubya--they have no legal recourse
against his pharmaceutical donor, Eli Lily, in the event of
damage or death? How many Americans know that Poppy sat on
the Lily board in the 1970's...that Budget Director Mitch
Daniels is a former Lily executive...that the current Lily
CEO sits on Dubya's Homeland Security Advisory Council? Two
of us--three, tops?
Dubya goes to great lengths, aided and abetted by a willing
and adoring media, to protect Americans from the truth. He
has every reason to be confident that the media will continue
to run interference for him--will continue to "protect" Americans
by keeping them diverted by war and distracted by fear. National
security is far too important to be concerned about minutiae
such as Congress giving itself a raise, cutting a pay raise
for 1.8-million government employees, giving top political
appointees annual bonuses and refusing to extend unemployment
benefits of 780,000 Americans which expired three days after
Christmas... Considering the safety of the homeland, does
it really matter that Dubya has forced nearly half the federal
civilian workforce--850,000 people--under his direct control
in order to reduce their pay and benefits, to "contract" their
jobs to private business and to rob them of job security and
union protections? Aw, c'mon--would you rather be safe and
patriotic, or opt for a job, food, and a roof over your head?
Sadly--frigheningly--Dubya's "strategery" at home and abroad
consists of little more than reckless coup attempts fired
with gusto from behind the protective shield of The American
People. It is time for the media to rise from their knees
and realize that "assuming the position" refers to the traditional
journalism position of government watchdog for the American
people. It is time for the media to toss aside White House
blast faxes and refuse to serve as a right-wing echo chamber.
It's time journalists did some good, old-fashioned reporting
before the loss-of-freedom flood water laps at their own doorstep.
And it will, you know.
We must stop this madness--regime change or containment,
it doesn't matter--it must stop. We've had enough. We are
tired of being used. We are outraged. One way or another,
Geedubya must be reminded again that the presidency does not
belong to any one person...It also belongs to you and me--The
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and former
Public Information Officer for Fort Sill, Oklahoma.