First Cheney, then Bush.
by John deJong
Dick Cheney's visit to Utah to deliver the commencement address at BYU has stirred a lot of controversy. How can Dick Cheney go anywhere and not expect the occasion to be drenched in politics? He's the main architect, along with soulmate Karl Rove, of the Bush administration's total politization program. Everything from the U. S. Attorney Generals to appointing political hacks to oversee the regulatory policy of every department of the executive branch has been politicized by the Cheney/Bush administration. National intelligence estimates were altered to serve their political agendas and get us into the war in Iraq.
I can seldom pass up the chance to point out an irony, so when I saw an old "Clinton: Unwilling to Serve, Unfit to Lead" bumper sticker in a parking lot recently I couldn't resist getting out a permanent marker and scribbling "Bush" in the corner. If there had been room I would have added Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonezales, Wolfowitz, Rove et al. in the Bush administration.
There's a line in "Patton" about not dying for your country but getting the other poor sucker to die for his country. Dick, George and Rummy have taken making other Americans die for America to an art. It was a little surreal to hear Cheney congratulating the graduating BYU ROTC officers for their willingness to serve their country. I was reminded of the old line, "Old soldiers don't die, young ones do." How long will it be before the first members of this graduating class die in the Middle East?
Perhaps it would be a good thing to require military service as a prerequisite for running for president or vice-president. Military service has a unique way of teaching the need to look at all eventualities when considering a course of action.
It's obvious members of the Bush administration didn't serve in the active military. With the kind of planning they did for Iraq, they would have all been killed in the first five minutes of combat.
While I'm on the subject, I'd like to make the case for reinstating the draft. No small reason for the lack of an effective opposition to the war is the fact that very few Americans have any real vested interest in the war. If we all were facing the prospect of having our sons or daughters or our own asses drafted, opposition to the war would have been swift and effective. Sure, it would be unfair, as the rich and powerful would make sure their sons and daughters were exempt, but that would galvanize the opposition even more.
Critics of the spending bill that passed both houses of Congress and set deadlines for withdrawal from Iraq decried the legislation as a "blueprint for defeat." The irony is that the Cheney/Bush administration didn't and still doesn't even have a plan for post-invasion Iraq on the back of a napkin.
One has to wonder how many universities the White House asked before BYU took up its offer to have Cheney speak at their commencement. Was BYU chosen as a nod to Mitt Romney? Is the puppet master sizing up the constituent base of his next puppet? Cheney could certainly get a senior position in a Romney or Giuliani administration. While presidents tend to ride into the sunset, many vice presidents have gone on to extinguish themselves in subsequent administrations – Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush to cite some recent examples.
As an afterthought, or perhaps in a case of damage control, BYU announced, two days before he arrived, that it would give Cheney an honorary doctorate to honor his 40 years of public service. Pulic? Service? How about 40 years of public disservice? Dick Cheney has done more to undermine our constitution and the checks and balances that are the underpinnings of democracy than anyone in this country (okay, with the possible exception of Alberto Gonzales). I've even got to wonder whether the honorary doctorate was Cheney's idea.
If BYU and the Mormon Church are politically neutral, as they claim, then next year they'll invite Al Gore to speak at their commencement; but I wouldn't bet on it.
It's interesting to watch conservatives come up with new "newspeak" words. "Politically neutral" means steeped in politics up to your eyeballs. "Flip-flop" was a derogatory term conservative pundits applied to Democrats whenever thay changed their positions on an issue. Now that pretty much the whole Republican presidential field has flip-flopped on multiple issues, the conservative pundits are calling flip-flopping a "learning/repositioning experience."
Unfortunately, while "flip-flopping" seems contagious among the Republican presidential contenders it is totally lacking in the Bush administration. Maybe, now that flip-flopping has been cast in a favorable light, they might try it. But Bush is more stubborn than two mules, and should his stubbornness waver, he'll always have Dick "Three Mules" Cheney to stiffen his resolve.
It's going to take regime change at home to get us out of Iraq. Unless we want to wait till after the next election, impeachment is the only way to do it. Cheney first, then we'll see if George W. Bush is even borderline trainable.
John deJong is associate publisher of Catalyst.