Prince Dubya’s flaws

In Prince Dubya’s America, in is out, black is white, left is right, backward is forward, disaster is glory and glory disaster.

Not since he ascended to the throne has the Prince’s looking-glass approach to politics been in sharper focus than during the past week. On two fronts, jingoism trumped true patriotism, lies trumped truth, excuses trumped apologies, bravado and swagger trumped reality.

The first front emanates from the Vice Prince. Vice Prince Cheney, no decorated combat veteran he, questioned and smeared the patriotism of fellow politicians who dared disagree with the administration’s failing Iraq war. Last week he told a conservative policy group: “The suggestion that’s been made by some U.S. senators that the president or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.” For their work, the Vice Prince labeled those senators unpatriotic.

In Pre-Prince Dubya America, we believed the Constitution protected Americans’ right to question why we sent troops to fight unjust wars. The Vice Prince tells us those days are gone. In Pre-Prince America, now-retired Marine colonels who once worked their way up from drill sergeants to decorated war heroes (to wit, the hawkish Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.) were taken more seriously than legacies who relied on connections to procure multiple service deferments and/or those who failed to complete National Guard stints. The Vice Prince tells us those days are gone.

There is, however, hope. Increasing public skepticism is forcing the Prince and his Vice Prince to reconsider. A new Gallup poll shows that the Prince’s job approval rating at 37 percent and the Vice Prince’s at 36 percent. In a surprising and rare show of intelligence, even this White House is beginning to face facts. The Prince took time from his jaunt through Asia to soften his attack on Iraq war critics, saying they have “every right to voice their dissent.”

Then there’s the second front, which emanates from the Prince’s Supreme Pick. Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court has run into more than a bit of trouble. That’s because papers released last week show Alito boasting about his work to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion nationwide. In Prince Dubya’s America, as we know, there are no litmus tests. Especially when they accurately tag a Supreme Pick on the wrong side of an issue. Still, White House handlers will stretch the truth till it screams to claim that their Supreme Court nominee has no preconceived position on abortion rights or Roe.

That explains why Alito told Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., last week that his earlier writings should be discounted to nothing. He tried to discredit his own 1985 job application for a position in the Reagan Justice Department in which he wrote he was especially proud of his work to overturn Roe. He wrote: “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.” Feinstein told reporters that Supreme Pick Alito explained away his folly because he was “an advocate seeking a job.” What does that make him now?

Now that the Supreme Pick is trying to claim he has no position on Roe, should we believe him when he was advocating for his 1985 position, or his 2005 position, as Supreme Pick? The answer to that question might be more difficult to divine, were it not for several of his rulings during the past 20 years. Perhaps most tellingly, in 1991 Alito ruled that women should be required to notify their husbands before having an abortion and that the requirement did not amount to an “undue burden.”

In Pre-Prince America, Alito’s record depicts an opponent of abortion rights.

Now, where black is white and left is right, his record indicates no such thing. The question is whether defenders of stare decisis _ the doctrine that court decisions should be guided by precedent _ Democrats and Republican moderates alike, will have the stomach to vote against Alito. If they do, we hold out the hope of returning to Pre-Prince America, when in was in and out was out. Until then, patriotic Americans who cherish truth and justice: Welcome to Prince Dubya’s America.

(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)