Among the debates in Washington these days the most important one is whether this country still honors the dictates and spirit of our Constitution, the Bush White House having produced an administration that operates according to a set of narrow ideologies.
We are engaged in a war that is depleting our treasury and focusing all our attention and personnel abroad. We have squandered the trust of allies, increased the hatred of enemies and seen our prestige diminished throughout the world. Bush appointees are a cadre of incompetent, inexperienced partisans who serve party before the public. And, having lost power in both houses of Congress, the minority obstructs the majority’s agenda while accusing them in photo ops of not accomplishing anything – – the same disingenuous gambit that beset the country during the years of Republican dominance.
As the public struggles with events that will determine our future as a nation and the fate of distant lands some issues go un-remarked even though they are determinants of who we are as a people and a country. Concepts of morality do not depend on judgments about abortion or same-sex relationships. Actions taken by our country on the world stage, however, speak far louder than all those pontifications about freedom and democracy offered up in the rose garden.
But there’s an uneasy feeling and something close to a public clamor about how our most revered and basic institutions are being disrespected, often ignored. Thus disclaimers by the president and his party, that the sudden dismissal of eight federal attorneys was just mismanaged begin to ring hollow, as do the ever-evolving reasons for our invasion and occupation of Iraq. Unrealistic assessments of conditions there have produced a growing sense of frustration among ordinary Americans and military leaders.
Underlying everything else is a sense that events are spiraling out of control with a White House that has failed the country every step of the way in Iraq and here at home. The president makes a carefully orchestrated stop in New Orleans to promise ongoing aid to Katrina victims. He hugs a young black girl in Mississippi. He attends convocation at Virginia Tech to offer words of condolence. But in the end he proves once again that he is just a figurehead, albeit a dangerous one, who likes having his picture taken but who rarely does anything substantive to address the real problems faced by the nation.
Global warming, social security, taxes, immigration, et al – – gather up a group that purports to be bi-partisan, create a commission and wait for their report. Days, weeks, months and years go by with very little being accomplished, and we discover that there isn’t any willingness on the part of this president to reach some accommodation with those who disagree with his position. When in doubt, delay or just sign laws and issue signing statements that gut the intent of legislation.
Our Attorney Journal seems not to have a clue and simply goes along with the White House in everything from his remarks that the Geneva Conventions were a “quaint” throwback to some earlier age to the firing of federal attorneys for obviously political reasons – – a man who heads the country’s Justice Department but appears not to be fully engaged in its daily activities and decision-making processes.
And although the Constitution clearly stipulates in Article VI that “…no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States” the Justice Department employs more than 150 graduates from Pat Robertson’s law school, Regent University, described as a “tier four” school by US News and World Report. How would so many graduates from a low-level law school find their way into this administration except for ideological reasons based on religious belief?
And what kind of leader deploys his media spokesperson to reiterate his support for the right to bear arms in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter at Virginia Tech? The founders of our Constitution might have placed limits on gun ownership had they envisioned assault weapons – – by specifying muskets, the weapon of their day.
In recent years the rule of law has been subjected to strange disruptions by partisans who have been allowed to frame the debate. It is probably time to unfurl those dusty copies of the Constitution and take a good look at what this administration has been up to.

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