Lloyd Bentsen once said to Dan Quayle, "Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy." Likewise, Mr. Scarlet, George Bush is no Abe Lincoln.
In the Feb. 20 edition of the Progress, Ned Scarlet gave a rousing supportive editorial for President Bush, placing him on a pedestal equal to that of Abraham Lincoln. While each is entitled to his own opinion (that's fortunately still legal in this country), his comments raised a few counterpoints in my mind.
In referring to President Bush, Scarlet states, "He has taken actions that push the limits of his power. I am glad he has." In regard to the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, the current court ruling of ACLU v. NSA states that Bush's administration has exceeded the limits of his power and has been deemed illegal and unconstitutional. The more recent move from the administration to discontinue the program shows an acceptance of this fact.
Also, in June of 2006, the Supreme Court declared the current administration's attempt to hold Guantanamo prisoners indefinitely without trial is also illegal. Consequently, all cases that have gone to trial have resulted in an acquittal for the prisoner. Perhaps these are the reasons the founding fathers enacted safeguards against unreasonable search and the necessity of speedy trials in the first place.
Bush's administration has nearly run the "protected rights" gamut with his creation of so-called "Free Speech Zones" (I thought the whole country was a free speech zone), his inhumane treatment of and revocation of trial for the so-called "enemy combatants", in addition to the unreasonable search and seizure of information in the form of illegal wire-tapped phone calls and other records. Only a few left and President Bush's administration will have tampered with each of the protected rights guaranteed in the bill of rights.
In what I can only assume to be a reference to Bush's preemptive strike on Iraq or perhaps a reference to his holding innocent people without trial (innocent until proven guilty, right?), Scarlet adds, "...like any good surgeon cutting out a cancer, he is removing the suspicious tissue surrounding the disease." I wonder if they used this same logic when they erected the first Japanese internment camps. Besides, who decides what is suspicious tissue? The president? Scarlet sounds like he believes that we are ruled by a king. At least for now, that is not the case.
We are ruled by laws. One of those constitutionally founded laws is that congress, not the president, is the sole creator of our laws. The president is a glorified officer of the federal government and as such is subject to those same laws. I might be protected from terrorists by a government, but I am protected from a government by laws. We need both physical protection as well as lawful protection, and one should not trump the other. Bush's job is not to "defend our nation as he sees fit". It is to defend our nation as the law sees fit.
Scarlet ponders, "I wonder what drives this hate for our president." Let me answer for you. It's no so much a hate for the president as it is a love of freedom. The erosion of our laws, freedom, and democracy to supposedly carry laws, freedom, and democracy to others is not what the founding fathers had in mind. Scarlet says, "If there has been error, it has been on the side of caution." I get the feeling Scarlet's not referring to the same caution the founding fathers took to ensure we would weather such presidents as we currently have. I can't fathom what "caution" Bush's administration has used, but I assume it falls somewhere into the philosophy of "kill 'em all and let God sort it out". Or rather, "intern all of the 'suspicious tissue' and let Guantanamo sort it out."
George Bush may prove wrong his detractors and the nearly 70 percent of Americans who disapprove of his leadership. Only time will tell. But speaking of standing the test of time, there are others from an earlier time who deserve our adulation now. They are the founding fathers who gave us a nation of laws and secured rights. This includes men like George Mason who gave up his political career and friendship with George Washington to ensure our natural rights would be protected in the form of the bill of rights. There are some wonderful men by the name of "George" who have shaped this country. But certainly George Bush is no George Washington either.