Monday, January 30, 2006


I wonder if you yourself, in your exalted office, Bush--your bubble?--are fully aware to what extent dissenters in the ranks of your administration are muzzled? I mean, do these repressive actions we read about come directly from your command? Do they come with your assent, whether tacit or implicit? Or do they rather come from underlings who understand without needing direction that you are unable to brook dissent, and simply anticipate your wishes?

It has gotten to be a depressingly familiar pattern, no? Two more examples in the news in the past couple of days remind us--if we needed the reminder--of the inherently tyrannical nature of your government. First, in yesterday's New York Times, the story of James E. Hansen, the "top climate scientist at NASA", who claims plausibly that your people have attempted to prevent him from awakening the public to the truth of global warming and the need for immediate action to forestall a permanent, perhaps disastrous climate change. Of course there are the familiar disclaimers from your political image shapers in the space agency's branch of "public affairs." "That's not how we operate here at NASA," protests one of them. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts." But it was Hansen himself, in the Times, and again later, on the CBS national news, who proved calmly, soberly credible.

And now, today, in Newsweek, we read the story of a small band of Justice Department lawyers who had the guts to risk "demanding that the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for riding rough-shod over the law and the Constitution, [and] fought to bring government spying and interrogation methods within the law." "They did so at their peril," notes Newsweek, adding that they were "ostracized" within the department, and that some of them were penalized by being "denied promotions."

It has been clear for some time now that, despite your protestations to the contrary, you are constitutionally unable to tolerate dissenting opinion, Bush. Let alone absorb or act on it. From the earliest days, when you first ran for the office you now occupy, it was clear that you were primed to speak only to carefully hand-picked audiences, and that practice has famously continued through your years in office. We learned how you rashly dismissed all dissenting views prior to your invasion of Iraq, and that our national intelligence services received the unambiguous message that they should limit their research to the kind of information that would support your intentions and provide your people with the ammunition they needed to persuade the American public of the urgent need to intervene. Your appointments, to high offices and low, have been awarded exclusively to those whom you judge "loyal" to you and to your cause. All these things we know. And more. Much more.

If this were a Greek tragedy--though I tend to think of it more as pathos, Bush, than tragedy--we might be looking for the "tragic flaw" that could explain your hubris, the overweening pride that blinds you to the reality that the rest of us plainly see. For me, Bush, that flaw is precisely your inability to understand that dissent itself is an act of loyalty. It is the mark of the tyrant, not of the strong leader you so often claim to be, to muzzle those who seek to tell the truth. Greater leaders than you, Bush, have learned this to their cost.


dennis said...

Peter: Haven't seen Cache. But, I'd bet my boots that you'd better spent your time seeing Crash,

PeterAtLarge said...

Dennis, I did see Crash, and wrote about it in The Bush Diaries a few weeks ago. Glad to see that it has been getting more and more attention. It's a terrific film, certainly up there with the best of the year. It would be in my own top five, along with Munich, Good Night & Good Luck, and Syriana. And several other good front runners this year.

PeterAtLarge said...

What am I talking about, "a few weeks ago"?! I just found the Crash piece: it we written on May 19, 2005. You'll find it in the archives.