Wants Us To "Move On" - So Why Don't We Take Him
Up On It?
By Bernard Weiner, The
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
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 rests.
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
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
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,
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
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
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 the leak.
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
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!
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught American government and
international relations at various universities, worked as
a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly
two decades, and currently co-edits the progressive website