least slap Bush on the wrist
by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
For the past five and half years, since the debacle that was the 2000 Presidential election — in which Bush was never really elected but appointed to the office — it seems only a few Americans have been disgustedly shaking their heads and wondering what has happened to our country.
The majority of Americans are in some zombie like state in which they cannot be disturbed unless the actions of our government directly, immediately and tragically affects them personally. Although it seems that more people are being aroused from their dreams, it may be too little well too late, for some of the most serious damage has already been done or set into perpetual motion.
In 2001, it was the hasty enactment of the Patriot Act, in 2003, the invasion of Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9-11, had no WMD’s and posed no imminent threat to this country. Through non-compete military contracts awarded to Halliburton to campaign finance scandals to administration officials and Republicans being indicted and convicted to the tragedy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and an out of control deficit, the Congress and the American people slept through the process.
Suddenly, someone tries to shake us from our nightmare! A voice emerges from the Senate floor — Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI, picks, out of everything this president has done, illegal wiretapping, and says the president should at least be censured. At first, to the few who have been awake these past five years, this seems like a good idea. Not since Andrew Jackson refused to turn over documents regarding the Bank of the United States back in 1837, has a president been censured.
So, is the rest of the Senate shaken awake and did they spring out of their beds to embrace this denouncement? No.
While the Republicans return to their repetitive chant, “He’s not with us, so he must be against us…he’s unpatriotic, aiding our enemies…,” Democrats are doing what they have done best since President Clinton’s impeachment — a synchronized duck and cover drill in which they all hide under their desks until the political fall out from Feingold’s “too far to the left” measure settles.
And what is this leftist measure anyway? Censure isn’t as menacing at it seems. While impeachment, the initial act that could lead to removal from office has been used liberally on presidents in comparison; censure is only an act of condemnation or denouncement. Still, it is someone trying to do something, which is better than nothing, and what we have seen in the past half decade.
What, by comparison to leading us into a preemptive and ill-calculated war in which hundreds of thousands have died, did the president do to fuel this “discussion?” Well, he didn’t have “sexual relations” with an intern and get caught and lie about it. An act, as we all remember, led to the impeachment of Clinton, a measure, we’ve all learned, is far more serious than censure.
No, Bush authorized the NSA shortly after 9-11 to wiretap Americans who were making overseas calls. Because of “national security,” little has been made public about this wiretapping fiasco. We don’t know how many people were affected or who. All we know is that the president authorized its use without first obtaining court orders or warrants. In other words, he did something no one else in America can do; in effect, he broke the law.
Bush says the power was given to him in the Patriot Act, Feingold and other experts on the Constitution disagree. In interviews, Feingold isn’t disagreeing that extreme measures must be taken in times of war to protect the people, he is saying that not even the president is above the law and if the law needs to be changed, it is the American people, through their elected representatives, that should do it.
So this is what breaking the law gets a president? A debate over whether he should be scolded by the people we have elected to make our laws? A few senators on both sides of the aisle have come out and said that at least the debate should occur, but as polarized as Congress has become since Bush promised he was a “uniter and not a divider,” one has to wonder if those senators are the ones whose home state polls are showing a strong shift against Bush. With many primaries in mid-term states in full swing and elections just eight months away, I wouldn’t count on our sleepwalkers in Congress to suddenly regain their full senses and realize where they are and whom they are representing.
And besides, this measure, even if it goes anywhere, will do little to awaken the rest of America anyway. If corrupt officials, poverty, acts of nature and war won’t do it, a little scolding won’t do the trick.
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell can be contacted at email@example.com.
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