Wednesday, June 08, 2005

President Bully on Fox News

I was watching a bit of Fox News (Don't try this at home! Leave watching Fox News Propaganda & Disinformation to the trained professionals!) this afternoon, and happened to catch Neil Cavuto's interview with President George W. Bush. What struck me most was the extent to which the defining element of Dubya's character came shining through: he is a bully. We know from his classmates that Dubya was a schoolyard bully. Now, as an adult (chronologically speaking), Dubya continues bullying other nations (friend and foe), bullying our own politicians (Republican and Democrat) and bullying the news media (except Fox News: News at the Speed of Lies). The term "bully pulpit" is not supposed to mean a pulpit for a sanctimonious bully.

In the Cavuto interview, President Bush said, "Part of the problem is that, in a certain body in Congress, a minority can block anything." He was referring, of course, to the Senate filibuster, although he was referring to his energy bill, not to the flap over judicial nominations. The filibuster has been a part of the Senate for its entire history. The filibuster has served our nation well for over two centuries. Indeed, up until 1975, only 34 Senators were needed to sustain a filibuster, and before 1917, it took only one Senator. (It now takes 41 Senators to sustain a filibuster.)

The point of the filibuster — a point lost on President Bully — is to encourage the crafting of a reasoned consensus on the most important issues, rather than allowing a 50.001% majority to work their will unfettered. Rather than demonstrating leadership by genuinely reaching out to find judicial nominees, or an energy bill, that would meet with bi-partisan approval, President Bush prefers the tactics of a playground bully. His "my way or the highway" attitude is the antithesis (exact opposite) of leadership, and the country is not well served.

President Clinton's nominees to the Supreme Court were voted in with over 80% of the Republican-controlled Senate after hearings in the Republican-controlled committee. Why can't Bush nominate judges who would get 80% votes? I guess it's because Bill Clinton was a far better leader than George W. Bush could ever aspire to become — and my assessment of Clinton's leadership is pretty lukewarm, only slightly ahead of John Kerry.

Unfortunately, the Democrats (and many Republicans) prefer a policy of appeasement with the Bush political machine. The comparison of Bush to Hitler is absurd, but the appeasement of Bush is remarkably similar to the great success achieved by Neville Chamberlain in the 1930's. If you consistently back down in front of a bully, it only emboldens him, encouraging him to come back next week for more than just your lunch money.

By the way, Bush also told an outright lie to Neil Cavuto:

I was very impressed by the use of intelligence [regarding the alleged terror cell in Lodi, California] and the follow-up. And that's what the American people need to know, that when we find any hint about any possible wrongdoing or a possible cell, that we'll follow up — by the way, honoring the civil liberties of those to whom we follow up. In other words, we're just not going to pick up the telephone and listen to somebody without a proper court order. That's protecting the civil liberties of Americans.
The whole point of the USAPATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act is that it allows surveillance without a court order, using a "National Security Letter" or other administrative (rather than judicial) procedure. The President is not committed to protecting the civil liberties of Americans.

I also caught some of the following program, The Big Story with John Gibson, where I got to see John Gibson interrupt his guest in mid-sentence talking about alleged terrorists in California to bring us the critical breaking news that the judge in the Michael Jackson trial was going to issue a statement (not a verdict, just a written statement) later in the hour. To be fair (and balanced!), I doubt that the other networks handled it much better; I just happened to be watching Faux News at the time. The possibility of a terror cell in central California affects America far more deeply than the upcoming release of a run-of-the-mill statement related to the Jacko trial. Our news media is, as usual, AWOL — seduced by celebrity gossip instead of real news. (Did you hear that Nick Carter and Jesse McCartney were secretly married on Monday in Seekonk, Massachusetts!? No? That's probably because it didn't happen.)