Politics, shame & the truth

From 1981 until 1987, while on sabbatical from journalism, I worked for Republican members of Congress and for the GOP in various political roles.

For too long, I rationalized my work in politics as a learning experience, a way to find out how politics works from the inside. I attempted to ease my conscience with the knowledge that although I cashed paychecks from Republicans, I never, in fact, was one. I never registered as a Republican, seldom voted for Republicans and maintained – as I always have – an independent voter status.

I stayed in politics for another five years after leaving the Republicans, running the political action committee (PAC) and other political programs for the National Association of Realtors, rationalizing my independence once again by helping both Democrats and Republicans with huge campaign donations, independent expenditure efforts and other assistance both on and off the books.

By 1992, however, the putrid stench of politics became too much and I walked away.

I walked away but the damage that I, and others like me, have done to this country lives on. Too many of the Republicans that I helped put into office are still there, wreaking havoc on the Constitution, abandoning the principles of liberty and advancing the erosion of freedom in this country.

So too are too many Republicans and Democrats whose campaigns benefited from donations from my PAC or help from my independent expenditure ads.

I don’t consider myself a Republican or Democrat and have equal disdain for members of both parties but most of my anger nowadays is aimed at Republicans because they control the White House and Congress and they must accept the blame for much of what is happening, at this point in time, to America.

After watching what George W. Bush and the Republican leadership of Congress have done to the country I love, I am sorry I ever had anything to do with these people. They are, I believe, a much bigger threat to freedom and the American way of life than any terrorist with a bomb or foreign dictator with a hate-America agenda.

Their actions are not only a crime against the Constitution but a crime against humanity, against common decency and against the soul of a once proud nation called America.

America is mired in a war that cannot be won because George W. Bush used manufactured intelligence to sell that war to a Congress that should have asked more questions and demanded more evidence.  Republicans and Democrats alike voted to give him the power to wage that war and then sat on their hands and did nothing.

Likewise, both Republicans and Democrats voted for the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act, the law that the Bush administration has used to undermine the Constitution and eat away at the freedoms of all Americans.

And the mainstream media, caught up in the post-911 bloodlust, failed to do its job and ask needed questions before the Iraq war. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times, symbols of liberalism in the eyes of most Republicans and conservatives, supported the war. The New York Times now admits it sat on a story about domestic spying for a year at the White House;s request. Had the Times printed that story last year, before the 2004 elections, would George W. Bush still be President? Good question.

Some of us raised questions before the war. Capitol Hill Blue ran a number of stories, based on reports from anonymous sources within the intelligence community that cast doubt on the accuracy of claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or that a link had been proven between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. We ran stories last year about the use of the Pentagon and NSA to spy on Americans. Our stories were dismissed by the partisans as just ravings from a nut job with a web site. It didn’t matter that we were right. Attack the source. That’s one of the oldest games in politics.

But while there is plenty of blame to go around. It is George W. Bush who put us on that deadly course to war in Iraq, a war that has cost more than 2,000 Americans and countless Iraqi civilians their lives and left America divided, bitter and angry.  It is the GOP leadership of Congress that rammed through much of his budget-busting legislation that leaves this country mired in debt.

And it is George W. Bush who arrogantly admitted this weekend that, yes, he authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans and, by God, he’ll keep doing it because he’s the President and he can do any damn thing he wants.

I am truly ashamed that I, as a one-time political operative,  ever had anything to do with putting people like George W. Bush or his cronies in Congress into office.

However, I am not – nor will I ever be – ashamed for printing the truth about him and other abusers of public trust.