In addition to the trade deficit,and the budget deficit there seems to be a serious shame deficit in Washington.
Lying to Congress,in the case of Alberto Gonzales,is really just “being careful” about classified matters according to former Justice Department official, Noel Francisco. Apparently, divulging classified material is okay when it serves administration purposes,as in the outing of Valerie Plame, but a danger to national security when leakers and whistleblowers expose White House incompetence and duplicity. And the entire issue is rendered all but incomprehensible when material is classified and de-classified at executive whim.
In fact the words truth and justice have been lost in translation by President Bush and his entourage. This most partisan of administrations tries to excuse its failings and scandals by declaring them the machinations of the Democratic Party. Thus the president commutes Scooter Libby’s sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice while Republicans almost in unison bemoan the wrongful prosecution of a “patriot” in the absence of any underlying criminality. Where was this chorus of apologists during the Clinton impeachment hearings and what was the underlying crime in that case?
And when it comes to Congress, Republicans take every opportunity to mention the low rating it currently receives, referring to it as the “Democrat Congress”; never mind the super-slim margin Democrats enjoy in the Senate and its larger but not veto-proof margin in the House. And ignore the twin factors of Senator Mitch McConnell who has vowed to block Democratic initiatives and a president who has suddenly become veto-happy. Maybe if they say it often enough and the electorate is in snooze mode, voters will overlook the fact that Democrats aren’t the only party in Congress.
Will voters still buy into the Republican mantra that theirs is the party of law and order and strong defense, when so many laws have been sidestepped, our harbors and borders so porous? Will they fail to grasp the false premise of executive privilege when used to explain the dismissed federal attorneys? Will they accept the claim from some pundits and partisans on the right that investigating the issue is less important than formulating legislation?
Perhaps that is the conclusion many have reached. But it must be made clear by every means possible that there is a difference between executive privilege and total disregard for the democratic values to which the citizens of this country pledge allegiance. As his defenders like to proclaim, federal attorneys “serve at the pleasure of the president” and can be hired or dismissed for any reason at all. That “pleasure” however, does not inlcude the right to pursue politically-motivated interventions designed to favor the president’s party at election time. That is a shameful denigration of how a proper Justice Department should operate, and dismissing attorneys for refusing to support partisan prosecutions is a blight on the department and this presidency.
Yet there is no shame emanating from this White House. Quite the opposite. In his petulant, bitter statement about the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales, President Bush praised him saying he had been treated unfairly for political reasons. Proving once again that he lacks the necessary skills to lead and unite the country, Bush took the low road, choosing to ignore the bi-partisan loss of trust in ‘his man’ and the obvious breakdown and low morale in a Justice Department that had become increasingly dysfunctional.
The pleasure of this president has become a long descent from the best instincts of who we are as a people. As Al Gore points out in his book The Assault on Reason “If the suspension of reason causes a significant portion of the citizenry to lose confidence in the integrity of the process, democracy can be bankrupted”.(page 73)That is the danger we face as a nation from a president who seems not to understand the true nature of the leadership role with which he has been entrusted.

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