The conning of America goes on.
It may not rise to the level of high crime, nor even misdemeanor. But make no mistake: America has endured a low-level governance-by-deception that has droned too long just below our radar of impeachable offenses. It has left behind a vapor trail that shows a clear pattern of official deceptions, foreign and domestic.
We are talking here about deceits, distortions and disingenuous look-the-other-ways perpetrated by the administration of President Bush that are contemptible if not impeachable.
But we are talking also (albeit to a lesser degree) of the revisionist responses and sound-bright sound bites of a leader-lite Democratic opposition that has failed to galvanize, let alone offer, any semblance or even sense of alternative plans to lead America and the world out of the mess that has been made at home and abroad, on issues global and local.
We will get to the long and growing list that of course begins with the international cons _ distortions about Saddam Hussein’s purported ties to al Qaeda in the rush to invade Iraq and the disastrous bungling of the never-planned postwar that has given al Qaeda a harbor in Iraq that it never had before.
But first, consider the latest deception (on a domestic issue that is only important to those who are females or who have ever had females in their families). Namely, the secret shunning of science in a rejection of access to the least offensive abortion method of all by the newly-politicized Federal Drug Administration.
Without waiting for the government’s scientists to complete their review and make recommends, FDA officials summarily rejected an application to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after contraception pill called “Plan B.”
According to investigators at the nonpartisan Government Accounting Office, top FDA officials inserted themselves into the process in a way that was characterized as “very, very rare.”
Now, a few lowlights from the Conning of America list: The Rush to Invade Iraq. Bush officials spotlighted the most inflammatory intelligence (about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction) and deep-sixed contradicting assessments. Bush officials repeatedly claimed al Qaeda was linked to Saddam _ claims based chiefly on a purported meeting in Prague that others disputed. All that was pretense for diverting U.S. forces from the right war in Afghanistan, whose purpose was to crush al Qaeda and capture Osama bin Laden.
The Bungling of the Peace. (See also: The unwitting creation of a new safe harbor for al Qaeda _ in Iraq!) By failing to properly plan for Iraq after Saddam, the U.S. invasion created chaos, civil war and a security vacuum that allowed al Qaeda to move in and set up a new base of terrorism. Also, new recruits are reportedly joining al Qaeda in protest of the invasion. Bottom line: Bush’s invasion of Iraq may have made us less safe at home.
Failure to Support Our Troops. Unbelievably, the Bush administration failed to provide proper armor to U.S. troops before sending them into harm’s way. They also broke their commitments of a limited combat tour to brave men and women who enlisted and found their combat duty extended.
Pre-Election Falsehood, Post-Election Indictment. During campaign 2004, the Bush White House assured voters Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were not involved in leaking CIA secret agent Valerie Plame’s identity to discredit her husband, who’d found no proof to back Bush’s claim about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger. Now, after the election, we learned Rove and Libby were involved _ and Libby was indicted for deceiving the FBI and grand jury.
Administration Winks at Big Oil Gouging of Motorists. Oil company profits soared as much as 89 percent in one year, while gas prices for motorists skyrocketed to record heights. Bush officials sat in benign silence. Congress held velvet glove hearings. Some threatened a windfall profits tax _ but plowing money back into the U.S. treasury won’t help motorist who’d already over-paid.
Now this: Americans seem to have finally caught on. The latest Gallup Poll shows that a record 60 percent now disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president and just 37 percent approve. Bush responded as presidents have before him when their polls plummet. He used his Air Force One jet engines to power himself upward _ on a trip to Asia that his aides hope will boost his image as a world leader and thus boost his approval rating at home.
It’s a bit presidents always try. It never works.
(Martin Schram writes political analysis for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail him at martin.schram(at)gmail.com.)