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Bush Wants Us To "Move On" - So Why Don't We Take Him Up On It?
March 16, 2004
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

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 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 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 wings.)

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 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 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!


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 The Crisis Papers.

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