The 7th Anniversary of Bush's Broken Promise
Seven years ago Friday George W. Bush uttered the now broken promise that has come to define his failed presidency. Accepting his party's nomination, Governor Bush promised to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House. But as events continue to show, a more accurate - and ironic - mantra for the lawless Bush White House would be "no controlling legal authority."
At the time it was delivered, Bush's acceptance speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia was an arrogant, deceitful broadside against the Clinton/Gore years. But the very words Bush used to tar Al Gore with the taint of the Lewinsky scandal may now constitute the epitaph for the Bush presidency:
"So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God."
That hateful address, of course, was filled with exactly the kind of lies and taunts - the smallness - that define George W. Bush. His false charges about American military readiness ("Not ready for duty, sir!"), his abandoned philosophy when using American force ("the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming"), his smearing of Al Gore that foreshadowed his own legacy ("he now leads the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but the only thing he has to offer is fear itself") and his obscene claim to be a "uniter" ("I will not attack a part of this country because I want to lead the whole of it"), all were in keeping with the dark Bush character.
Bush broke all of these promises. But his original sin, from which all other of his crimes and errors flow, is his pledge to usher in new period of higher ethical standards as part of a "responsibility era." Bush, who previously sneered at Gore's "no controlling legal authority" defense of his Buddhist temple fundraising efforts, raised the ethical bar further that October:
"In my administration, we will ask not only what is legal but what is right. Not just what the lawyers allow, but what the public deserves. In my administration, we'll make it clear there is a controlling legal authority of conscience."
Seven years later and Bush's 2000 standard of "not only what is legal but what is right" is in tatters. Just this week, attorney general Alberto Gonzales (who had already lied under oath to Congress at least three times) fought off new perjury charges by flaccidly claiming his contradictory statements regarding illegal NSA domestic surveillance "may have created confusion."
And that's just the beginning. Plamegate, the Libby pardon, the Abramoff affair, doctoring scientific reports, the end of habeas corpus, endorsing torture of war prisoners, the politically-motivated firings of U.S. attorneys, the theory of the unitary executive and the unprecedented assertion of executive privilege all show a President committed to doing neither what is legal nor right. And then there's Iraq.
Seven years ago on August 3rd, George W. Bush promised us he would "uphold the honor and dignity" of his office. Happy anniversary, America.