Friday, February 15, 2008

A Grotesque Baboon - - -

A "third-rate country lawyer", a "coarse, vulgar joker", "a dictator, an ape, and a buffoon." “The craftiest and most dishonest politician that ever disgraced an [American political] office."
A description of President Bush? No, that's the press' description of the President during the Civil War -- Abraham Lincoln.

I was preparing a nice post on our delicious St Valentine's Day dinner when I switched on the news to see if I could catch the latest on Romneys's endorsement of McCain or Obama's comments on Hillary's comments. Instead, Keith Olbermann was ranting about President Bush, the fascist.

President bashing is an American right and tradition, kind of like booing the umps at a baseball game when a call goes against your team. Or second guessing the coaches decision to go for it at 4th and 1. But Olbermann goes too far, regardless of political view that kind of slander is unnecessary and wrong. And I believe it does us all harm when we show contempt and disrespect for the office of the President. He is not just a Prime Minister, he is a combination of Prime Minister and peoples King. I will say the same about Clinton, Obama or any other person who takes the oath of office. The president can be criticized, but in my view, respectfully.

Leaders make unpopular decisions. I have no idea whether this war was justified or not. I do believe there is such a thing as a just war, I don't know if this is one of them, but that's not my decision. Disagree with this war all you want. Fight to withdraw all you want, but to say the President is motivated by personal animosity, oil money, self-aggrandizement or anything like it is wrong. I don't think President Bush's decisions are motivated by anything but the desire to protect the very people who are criticizing him. He may be right, he may be wrong, only time will tell. That's my opinion.

For the record my news watching of choice is:
Matthews / MSNBC
A Cooper / CNN
Hannity & Colmes / Fox

Shows I do not watch:
Olbermann / MSNBC
Lou Dobbs / CNN
O'Reilly / Fox

Comments anyone? Agree, disagree?


ExcitableBoy said...

Once everything's boiled down, I think Olbermann says some important things.

More importantly, though, I think that the passion behind the discourse is simply a function of how bad these people see the state of our government.

You and I have an obligation to scream when we observe that our government is not acting in accordance with what is best for the governed - when we believe that the social contract is not being upheld. As we observe this becoming more egregious, the volume needs to increase exponentially.

And from the 'rants' of Olbermann's that I've seen, that's really all he's done - he enumerates a list of things that he's fed up with, and then states how utterly disgusted he is. And as someone who voted for Bush, I have to say that I don't disagree with him. Warrantless wiretaps, the suspension of habeas corpus, the notion of pre-emption and subsequent arrant mis-management of a war, and the complete disservice done to a city in the midst of a disaster are just the beginning of a list of ways our government has simply not done its job, regardless of motivation. At some point, the issue must go beyond letting leaders make unpopular decisions (as they must do) to exposing leaders who are steering our country in the wrong direction. The notion that the President must be treated in a certain way no matter what he does is, at the very least, a dangerous one.

As with Edward Murrow and the Red Scare, it is the job of journalists to expose public officials and their policies to public scrutiny. In that vein, I can't really see how Olbermann's rants as a whole can be viewed as slanderous.

Francis Shivone said...

You make a cogent argument. I would have to exactly quote the text to prove my point -- which I don't have, He used the word fascist and fascism over and over. That's hyberbolic and slanderous.
The question comes down to -- what are the just powers of the executive office and has the President abused them. I think Ron Paul's argument is the most historically accurate. I think today's Presidents since WWII have adjusted the spirit of that definition of executive power to deal with a world were almost every country is at our border....
Great comments, again, thanks

Steve said...

I don't think I'd use the word "fascist", but I would use "monarchical" and I have...over and over.

His actions w/r/t the constitution show a belief that he is above the law. The whole concept of the "unitary" executive that is not to be bound by anything, including codified laws, in a time of endless war just staggers me. All laws, checks, and balances are neutered.

This is evident in all of his signing statements that say he will not be bound by anything that he deems contrary to his ability to protect the country. And so now we wiretap without warrants, torture, etc.

To my mind, the unitary executive was justification for a revolution 235 years ago, so it can't be such a good thing now.

Francis Shivone said...

A conservative Republican historian friend of mine calls this our "empire building" stage. Comparing us to Rome, England and others. I don't agree, but I do agree that it is problematic to be "pro-active" in fighting the terrorist enemy.
Since President Washington there has been debate on the extent of executive power: the Whiskey Rebellion, Alien & Sedition etc.

To be honest, I'm conflicted, I'm too much of an old hippie to want the wiretaps and a bigger Big Brother but old enough to know that liberty is a fragile condition requiring freedom and restraint.

I'm also not naive enough to think that oil, power and money don't influence decisions. But I do have a hard time believing the President is as wicked as it is common to believe him to be.

Going back to the Washington comments, Jefferson considered Washington's actions in squelching rebellions to be an abuse of power. If the terrorist threat is serious I think any president has an impossible balancing act to perform, i.e. protecting liberties while maintaining general safety.

Steve said...

It's a bitch, to be sure. But it's pretty clear from the record that he was planning war w/Iraq before 9/11 and saw that event as a perfect opportunity to execute the plan.

I laid back on "fascist" earlier, but I'm rethinking it. Much of Bush's rhetoric and actions draws some pretty significant parallels to fascism, although I hate to say so.

1. Impugning those that do not toe the line as traitors. This has been done many times, esp. by Cheney. Classic appeal to nationalism/patriotism. This is not America to squelch free speech as "enabling the enemy."
2. Creating a never-ending war. This is classic Nazism and has been manifested in Bush's willingness in his signing statements to be able to refute constitutional and statutory law. (Thank goodness for term limits...which are apparently still intact.)
3. Usurpation of democratic government and centralization within a single person. See above. The unitary executive theory of this administration is similar to Hitler, who was also democratically elected. Hitler manipulated the constitution to concentrate power upon one person, similar to the unitary executive approach.
4. The creation of a common enemy. In this administration, it is "terrorists" which has been conflated with Iraqis that heretofore had nothing to do with terrorism. All fascistic administrations have created a common enemy, whether it be arabs in the former Yugoslavia, Jews in Germany, or whites in Zimbabwe. Bush has continued to rhetorically combine all enemies as terrorists to play to the public, when this is very far from the truth. There were very few, if any, terrorists in Iraq when the war started.

Steve said...

I will say this, if I'm given the option of freedom or fear, I'll take my chances with freedom every time.

Francis Shivone said...

Steve -- you've taken generic fascism and made it specific Nazi fascism. Then you equated the President's policies with Hitlers. Have you ever seen, read, or watched anything about Hitler's Germany? You need to find another forum my friend. Sorry.

Steve said...

I'm not claiming for a second that our current administration is Hitlerian (I've read all seven million pages of the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.) We don't have brownshirts in the street and there's no worry about a beer hall putsch.

Maybe I fell for the bait to equate fascism with Nazism, and, if so, I'm guilty. But I haven't read as much about Franco, Mussolini, or any number of banana republic dictators.

Our most prescious duty is to protect our republic, a great republic. And there are some worrisome parallels. Namely: gaining electoral leverage through fearmongering, promoting xenophobia, and a lawyered-up power grab by the executive branch. All of which I belive warrant notice and rebuke.

You can ask me not to comment again and I will comply, but I'm going to fight my fight.

I'd prefer to proceed without labels that define certain ideologies that can be narrowly defined and deconstructed according to dogma.

1. The Bush administration has referred to non-war advocates as traitors. This is patently un-American.

2. The Bush administration has claimed they are above the law by way of the "unitary executive" authored by John Yoo and in multiple signing statements available at The Constitution should be the guiding document for our Rebublic.

3. Conflation of enemies into a single entity. There are too many examples to give where the Bush administration has called the war in Iraq the "war against terrorism". This is flat-out lying to the uninformed population to conflate unrelated events in Iraq with Al-Qaeda activites.

These tactics have been used by fascistic and totalitarian regimes to deprive the public of the truth and to drum up nationalistic support of spurious pursuits that seek to magnify minority patriotic fervor against the majority.

Everything Bush has done militarily in Iraq has been contrary to the will of the people. I only want the best for our democracy and I think we should be wary of such tactics.

Francis Shivone said...

To quote the Bud Lite commercial:


Steve said...

The best way to establish credibility is to start calling people Nazis.