Are We Experiencing the Last Days of Constitutional Rule?

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The Bush administration’s greatest success is its ability to escape accountability for its numerous impeachable offenses.

The administration’s offenses against US law, the US Constitution, civil liberties, human rights, and the Geneva Conventions, its lies to Congress and the American people, its vote-rigging scandals, its sweetheart no-bid contracts to favored firms, its political firing of Republican US Attorneys, its practice of kidnapping and torturing people in foreign hellholes, and its persecution of whistle blowers are altogether so vast that it is a major undertaking just to list them all.

Bush admits that he violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and spied on US citizens without warrants, a felony under the Act. Bush has shown total disrespect for civil liberty and the Constitution and has suffered rebukes from the Supreme Count. The evidence is overwhelming that the Bush administration manufactured false "intelligence" to justify military aggression against Iraq. The Halliburton contract scandals are notorious, as is the use of electronic voting machines programmed to miscount the actual vote.

The chief-of-staff to Vice President Cheney has been convicted for obstructing justice in the outing of a covert CIA officer. Proof of torture is overwhelming, and the Bush administration has even had the temerity to have permissive legislation passed after the fact that permits it to continue to torture "detainees." The Sibel Edmonds and other whistle blower cases are well known. The Senate Judiciary Committee has just issued subpoenas to Justice (sic) Dept. officials involved in the scandalous removal of US Attorneys who refused to be politicized.

Yet the Democrats have taken impeachment "off the table." Many Democrats and Republicans and a great many Christians can contemplate illegal military aggression against Iran, but not the impeachment of the greatest criminal administration in US history. Far from being scandalized by what the entire world views as an unjust invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US, leading Democratic and Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential nomination rushed to inform the Israel Lobby, AIPAC, that they, if elected, will keep US troops in Iraq.

The previous occupant of the White House could not escape being impeached by the House of Representatives for lying about a consensual Oval Office sexual affair. President Nixon and his vice president, a saintly pair compared to Bush-Cheney, were both driven from office for offenses that are inconsequential by comparison. Liberals branded Ronald Reagan the "Teflon President," but the neoconservatives’ Iran-Contra scandal was a mere dress rehearsal for their machinations in the Bush regime.

What explains Bush-Cheney invulnerability to accountability? Perhaps the answer is that Bush has desensitized us. Like kids desensitized to violence by violent video games and movies and pornography addicts desensitized to sex, we have become desensitized by the avalanche of Bush-Cheney crimes, lies, and disdain for Congress, courts, and public opinion.

Our elected representatives, if not the American people, now regard as normal such heinous actions as war crimes, the rape of the Constitution, self-serving use of government office, and the constant stream of lies and propaganda from the highest offices of the executive branch.

Perhaps that is what disillusioned foreigners, who once looked with hope to America, mean when they say that America does not exist anymore. If the notion has departed that the highest political offices in the land are supposed to be occupied by people who are honest and faithful to their oath to the Constitution, then we are far advanced on the road to tyranny.

In future history books, will Bush-Cheney mark the transition of the United States from constitutional rule to the unaccountable rule of the unitary executive who cancels out Congress with signing statements and silences critics with the police state means that are now part of the US legal code?

Paul Craig Roberts [send him mail] wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholar journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury’s Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He is also coauthor with Karen Araujo of Chile: Dos Visiones — La Era Allende-Pinochet (Santiago: Universidad Andres Bello, 2000).

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