by William Norman Grigg
by William Norman Grigg
This declaration was offered as a pious summation civic duty by former White House Political Director Sara Taylor. She stated this without irony or self-awareness. Clearly, she was someone who had been immersed in a culture of Führerprinzip, in which there was no allegiance higher than loyalty to the Grand and Glorious Decider.
Senator Patrick Leahy quite correctly reminded Miss Taylor that even though "the president refers to the government being his government — it's not," and that her "paramount" duty was to the Constitution:
A day before Sara Taylor's Senate testimony provided an inadvertent illustration of the Bush Regime's Leader Cult in action, former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona described another example in his testimony before a House committee.
"In [speeches delivered during] my first year, clearly I was told a number of times that the president's name wasn't mentioned in the speech and I was told it should be mentioned — at one point, at least three times on every page," Carmona recalled. "And I said, 'I'm not going to do that.' . . ."
During his press conference today (July 12), The Grand and Glorious Decider himself expatiated at length on his apparently limitless unilateral powers, his comments planted with a thick forest of vertical singular pronouns:
"I will rely on General Petraeus to give me his recommendations for the appropriate troop levels in Iraq. I will discuss the recommendation with the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I will continue consultations with members of the United States Congress from both sides of the aisle. And then I'll make a decision."
One reporter asked The Decider if he has "entertained the idea that at some point Congress may take some of that sole decision-making power away through legislation.... [C]an you tell us: Are you still committed to vetoing any troop withdrawal deadline?"
"I don't think Congress ought to be running the war," replied the Commander Guy. "I think they ought to be funding our troops.... I listen to Congress. Congress has got all the right to appropriate money. But the idea of telling our military how to conduct operations, for example, or how to, you know, deal with troops strength, is — I don't think it makes sense."
On this construction, the sole duty of Congress is to appropriate money to keep the war going for as long as the Decider requires. It was dictatorial presumption of this sort that cost Charles I his head.
Under the U.S. Constitution, a document for which The Decider has expressed profane contempt, it is Congress — not the president — that decides when and against whom our nation goes to war. It has the power to de-fund the present war and to recall the troops.
But those delegated powers aren't in the Constitution as Bush understands it, which — if reduced to print — would read something like this: "Law consists of two lines above my signature." That was Saddam Hussein's description of his power, and there is something oddly appropriate in the fact that Saddam is the only individual or institution to whom Bush was supposedly willing to defer in deciding whether to invade Iraq.
During today's press conference, Bush pointedly refused to concede that he had made the decision to go to war. The one who decided on behalf of the United States, Bush insisted, was "Saddam Hussein. He chose the course.... It was his decision to make. "
Actually, Saddam Hussein had agreed to abdicate power and flee into exile in order to prevent an attack on his country, which means that somewhere beneath the numerous layers of murderous corruption in his personality was an embattled spark of genuine patriotism.
Bush and the adults who script his lines weren't going to permit any arrangement that didn't involve an attack on, and occupation of, Iraq — despite Bush's ongoing effort to assign the responsibility for the war to Saddam.
Unfortunately for Bush, in December 2005, before the occupation of Iraq had blossomed into the full-blown catastrophe it has become, Bush was eager to claim sole credit for making the decision for war. Bush told NBC correspondent Brian Williams:
"I remember the day we committed the troops, or I committed the troops, there's no `we' to it. I committed the troops to combat in Iraq. And I left here [the Oval Office], walked out that door, walked around that South Lawn there with my trusty dog Spot, just thinking about the consequences...." (Emphasis added.)
Imagining Bush in stoic contemplation of war's grim consequences summons up an amusingly implausible picture — rather like one of those posed photographs of a Chimp dressed as a scientist contemplating some mysterious substance in a test tube.
Be that as it may, there is an interesting contrast between Saddam Hussein, and the American President whose doctrine of executive power is essentially identical to that of the Iraqi despot: Saddam was willing to surrender power, if it would spare his country a hugely destructive war. Bush is incapable of such a sacrifice.
Of course, that comparison is unfair — to Saddam, who, repulsive as he was, killed fewer Iraqis and Americans than has George W. Bush.
Copyright © 2007 William Norman Grigg