The malfeasance of President Bush is seeping into the public consciousness despite the nefarious propaganda campaign of his co-conspirators and the irresponsible subservience of the mainstream media. His crimes of violating international laws, the American constitution, American law and lying to the American people and Congress are now well documented. Lying to the American people and to Congress is a symptom of a very malignant cancer in the leadership of the American polity which can be traced back to the founding of the Republic. The cancer is paradoxical in a sense because the founding fathers and virtually every president since have resonantly trumpeted with pride the democratic nature of the American system of government despite the fact that these very same leaders didn’t respect the judgment of the American people when it came to important decisions and therefore had to “manufacture consent” to win their approval.
President Bush’s multiplicity of lies have become legendary and are indicative of the fact that he doesn’t trust either Congress or the American people to consider the facts and evaluate the arguments supporting his policies before they grant or withhold their approval. Instead, Bush, Cheney, Rice et al. formulate and implement policy without any commitment to the principle which is at the very core of a democracy, namely to consult the people and their representatives in government.
He and his cohorts lied profusely about the justification for attacking Iraq, the plan for resolving the bitter hostilities between Israel and Palestine, their prior knowledge of the dangers posed by Katrina and now about the nuclear threat in Iran. Brazenly, Bush corrupted democracy even further when he signed McCain’s anti-torture bill arrogantly declaring in his signing statement that he will comply with the law “in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president to supervise the unitary executive branch … and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power.” He also blatantly flouted the law and violated the civil rights of Americans when he granted himself the authority to order warrant-less wiretaps.
Sadly, Bush is not unique in his failure to honor principles crucial to any democracy. The cancer has been growing in the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, NIC, FBI, and in many of the senior members of any administration where it has been deeply embedded in the American system and a formidable force in decision-making and policy-making.
The cancer germinated with the founding fathers who did not fully trust the masses. For example, John Jay, president of the Continental Congress and first chief justice of the Supreme Court, claimed that “The people who own the country ought to govern it.” James Madison, co-author of the Federalist papers, active participant in the Constitutional Congress and fourth President of the United States expressed his fear: “The landed interest, at present is prevalent, but in process of time … when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small … will not the landed interests be overbalanced in future elections and unless wisely provided against, what will become of our government?”
In fact, most presidents since World War II have lied extensively in order to carry out major foreign and defense policy initiatives fearing that it was necessary to hide the truth to win public and Congressional approval. In each case, the president had demonstrated a shocking lack of respect for the institution of democracy. For example, President Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident; President Nixon about the bombing of Cambodia; President Reagan about the Iran-Contra affair; and President Clinton about ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
None of these presidents were willing to allow the American people and Congress to examine the facts and arguments of an issue in order to make an informed decision about whether to support presidential policies or decisions. They were committed to executing their plans without the slightest intention of consultation. Without consultation and the subsequent acting on the will of the people and their representatives in government, democracy cannot exist. President Bush has clearly committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” and deserves to be impeached but his removal from office will not solve the deeper problem, namely, the absence of democracy in America. Only when the power structure and ideology that sustains an undemocratic government in Washington has been purged will democracy have a chance to flourish.
is a Professor of Political Science and Economics at Seneca College in
Toronto and the author of
Lying for Empire: How to Commit War Crimes with a Straight Face.
He can be reached at:
email@example.com. Visit his
Lying for Empire