The continuing revelations of unethical, illegal and unconstitutional actions by the George W. Bush administration caused me to revisit the scandals of previous administrations during my lifetime. Im not talking about prurient sexual affairs. Im talking about the abuse of power by the Executive Branch and attempts to subvert our Constitution.
Lets examine the record. President Richard Nixon was forced out of office when it was discovered that he ordered his operatives to break into the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee. He also authorized illegal wiretaps, improper tax audits, campaign fraud, and a variety of dirty tricks. Then, when the actions of his operatives became public, he authorized an illegal slush fund to buy the operatives silence.
In other words, Nixon not only tried to subvert our electoral process. He obstructed justice.
Lost in the Watergate scandal is the fact that Nixons Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, pleaded no contest to charges of tax evasion and money-laundering. His replacement, Gerald Ford, assumed the office of the Presidency after Nixons resignation in 1974 and became embroiled in controversy when he pardoned Nixon.
Under President Ronald Reagan, the administration sold weapons to the Iranian government in order to finance Nicaraguan rebels (Contras) in violation of U.S. law. The entire affair was kept secret from Congressional oversight committees, and when the affair was investigated, it was found that large volumes of documents had been destroyed by administration officials. Although it was never proven that Reagan was directly involved in the scandal, its difficult to believe that he had no knowledge of the program.
President George H.W. Bush not only pardoned most of those involved in the Iran-Contra affair. On his watch, Savings & Loan institutions collapsed as the result of deregulation and overzealous lending as part of the real estate boom. (Can it be possible that a near identical collapse of financial institutions during his son’s administration is just some sort of an eerie coincidence?)
Under President George W. Bush, the scandals were so numerous that Wikipedia has been forced to divide them into nine subcategories. And Wikipedia doesnt even list what may be the biggest failing of his presidency ignoring clear warning of 9/11. It has been well-documented that Bush ignored an August 2001 memo titled Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S. It even mentioned the possibility of hijackings.
Neither does Wikipedia list Tom Ridges assertions that Bush officials asked him to raise the terrorist alert levels to help manipulate voters leading up to the 2004 election.
Wikipedia does, however, list the abuses at Abu Grahib, the false statements made during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, false claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the outing of a CIA operative as payback for her husband exposing one of the claims used to sell the Iraq invasion, the politicization of the Justice Department through the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys for political reasons, the extraordinary renditions (read torture) of political prisoners, possible war crimes in Afghanistan, the imprisonment of detainees in Guantanamo without trial and without the right to know the charges against them, and the use of recess appointments to circumvent the Senates confirmation process.
Of course, there were also the no-bid contracts in Iraq for Halliburton and others, the out-sourcing of many of our military ops to Blackwater (aka Xe), the secret “hit squad” created by the CIA and Blackwater, the supposed legal foundation for torture, and many other issues which would be considered scandalous in more respectable administrations.
I can think of no equivalent scandals for Democratic administrations. No attempts to subvert the Constitution. No shadow governments. No wars of convenience.
Yet one of the true ironies of our current political climate is that conservatives have the unmitigated gall to accuse President Obama of perverting the Constitution by trying to rescue our economy and attempting to provide health care for all U.S. citizens. They want to manufacture a scandal out of his birth certificate. And they want to compare him to Hitler.
Are conservatives so angry they lost the election that they can’t see the utter nonsense of their statements? Or are they simply so gullible they’ll repeat anything Fox Noise, Rush Limbaugh and the NRA tell them to? Whatever their reasons, the real question is this: Given past performance, why would anyone vote for a Republican President ever again?