You Got Your Politics in My Fluff

No, you got your Fluff in my Politics…

I was cracking open my morning paper to get to the crossword. Usually Monday and Tuesday is crossword day, and Wednesday-Friday are sudoku days. The crossword is in the Houston Chronicle’s “Star” section – it doesn’t have a title on the front, just a star. It’s the “fluff” section, where you go for comics, television and movie listings, and today, the lead article on doggie day care.

So, I’m making my way to the back and I find as the token article on page five (smashed in with movie times and box office returns) an article by Leonard Pitts Jr. I couldn’t find it on the chron web site, so rechecked the print version. It doesn’t list his affiliation but does have his email at herald.com. So, I did find the article on the Miami Herald’s site.

It’s a scathing indictment of the Bush administration (which admittedly is an easy thing to write these days). But I think the fact that it’s oozed into the entertainment section of the newspaper is telling of how despicable this administration has been.

Two great tastes that taste great together: Fluff and Politics.

(cached here for completeness)

The Bush presidency: Is nothing real?

Richard Nixon was a crook. He was also a liar and anti-Semite who sought to subvert the Constitution.

I wish he were president again.

I’d also take Jimmy Carter, widely perceived as being about as effectual as Elmer Fudd, or Bill Clinton, fastest zipper in the West.

Flawed men yes, but say this much for them: When it came to a choice between people and party, between the public and the politics, there was at least a bare chance they would put the people, the public, first.

No such chance exists with the current occupant of the mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue. Given a choice between what’s best for the country and what suits his political and ideological needs, George W. Bush will invariably, unfailingly, pick the latter.

More proof, not that any is needed, arrived last week.

The testimony before a House committee of Dr. Richard Carmona — until 2006 the nation’s surgeon general — was not the biggest W-related news of the week. That distinction would likely go to the new report that the Iraqi government has met half its benchmarks of progress. Or to the classified intelligence analysis that reportedly says that, four years after the invasion of Iraq, al Qaeda is the strongest it has been since September 2001.

Yet Dr. Carmona’s testimony is still worth noting for the insight it offers into the administration’s mind-set. Not that he said anything we’ve never heard before. Carmona told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the administration censored him whenever his science conflicted with their ideology.

He said he was prohibited from speaking about condom use because the administration believes in abstinence-only sex education. He was told not to speak about stem cell research. He was refused permission to make a speech at the Special Olympics because that was seen as helping a political opponent but was asked to speak at events benefiting the GOP.

As I said, nothing new. I’ve lost count of how many officials — from the EPA to NASA to the Justice Department to the intelligence community — have testified to the Bush gang’s habit of twisting, denying and ignoring verifiable facts to fit political needs.

Yes, every presidency is shaped by ideology and politics. But it’s hard to imagine another administration so thoroughly politicized that people it recruited to rebuild a war-shattered nation would be asked less about their qualifications than about their opinions of Roe v. Wade. Or intelligence estimates that didn’t toe the party line would be dismissed as ”guessing.” Or the nation’s top doctor would be politically prohibited from giving his best medical opinion.

Indeed, some of us can remember a time when a president understood himself to be not just the leader of his party but also the leader of his nation. Some of us can remember when he was expected, at least some of the time, to place himself above politics, to act as the living embodiment of the nation’s ideals, president of all its people. A time when truth was truth was truth — and truth was the ultimate arbiter of dissension.

Now politics is truth.

At the end of The Truman Show, Truman Burbank, the innocent who has just learned his life to this point was a TV fantasy, addresses the man responsible. His question is poignant. “Was nothing real?”

I can imagine a similar question lifting from the American electorate in January of 2009 as we finally exit an eight-year sojourn in a political fantasy where there were no ideals — only ideologies, expediencies, angles to be worked and appeals to the base.

Was nothing real? Was nothing true? Was nothing beyond politics?

The answer has been self-evident for a long time now: No, nothing was.

Thank you, Leonard Pitts Jr.!

Another item this week that was on the fringe of coverage was the non-testimony to the Senate Judiciary committee of former White House Political Director Sara Taylor. In refusing to say anything about how decisions were made to fire Department of Justice attorneys, she said she took an oath to the President and would honor that by saying nothing.

This “Executive Branch Privilege” they’re trying to claim is absurd!  Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy took her to task.

Thank you, Senator Leahy.