July 16, 2004
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Take a look at the title of this piece. Think about that phrase.
Do you remember the most recent constitutional crisis? Was it the way that the presidency was given to George W. Bush by five ultra-conservative members of the Supreme Court in 2000, a decision which usurped the rights of the voters in Florida who didn’t get a chanced to get their votes counted? Or the way the conduct of the election was totally removed from the state legislature in Florida, a function specifically given to the individual states by the constitution?
Most people don’t learn too much about the constitution is school anymore, so they probably are unaware that the Supreme Court stuck its nose in where the constitution decidedly made clear that it shouldn’t. When there is a dispute over an election for the president of the United States, the matter is supposed to be settled in the House of Representatives, the “people’s house,” by the elected representatives of the people. It most certainly shouldn’t be settled by political appointees, the majority of whom hid their radical views in plain sight at their confirmation hearings, but who were confirmed and appointed anyway, with the acquiescence of the Congress.
Or was the most recent constitutional crisis for you the way that both houses of Congress ceded their responsibility to declare war, again by their 2002 acquiescence, in this case, to this administration’s demand that the president, and the president alone, would decide when and where to carry out military operations in the latest military adventure of the United States. This is another clear-cut area where the framers and founders of the republic decided that the people, represented by the congress, should be the ones to decide major issues.
How about the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton, over a dubious perjury claim? Did his accuser stand to lose very much if the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in the grip of right-wing ideologues, had been forced to abandon its dangerous, and ultimately unsuccessful, witch hunt? A witch hunt, by the way, which not only embarrassed the president personally, but which weakened the United States internationally, just so a handful of lunatic fringe religious conservatives and GOP operatives, could get their digs in at someone who was on the other side of the cultural divide from them? What ever happened to the principle of overriding interests? Was Clinton’s lawyer such an amateur that he argued the wrong point to the courts? Or, better yet, for you conspiracy theorists, was his lawyer, Robert Bennett, the brother of William “Mr. Virtues” Bennett (himself a GOP nut job), part of the grand plan? Argue a point that you have no chance of winning, while ignoring a relevant argument that the overriding interests of the United States demand that this CIVIL lawsuit be postponed until the target, and Clinton was a target, is safely out of office.
That one doesn’t do it for you? Okay, how about the 1995 shutdown of the United States government when the GOP-controlled congress refused to pass a budget, blaming the delay on Clinton? Granted, parts of Clinton’s budget proposals were later deemed to be unconstitutional (Clinton v NY, in which the line item veto was thrown out), but it was Republican obstinacy and a firm desire to embarrass the President and gridlock the legislative process that caused this shutdown.
Here’s a good example that resonates today just as it did back then: The 1991 invasion of Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition of forces to force the great demon, Saddam Hussein, to relinquish his hold on Bush’s friends in Kuwait and to prevent him from threatening his even better friends in Saudi Arabia, home of Osama bin Laden’s family and the nation which spawned of 15 of 19 9/11 hijackers. Once again, a roll me over and be gentle, Democratic Congress acquiesced and let its war-making prerogative be usurped by a Bush.
Oh, that doesn’t qualify as a constitutional crisis for you, yet? Let’s see. Oh, yeah. There was a nasty little military adventure in Panama that resulted in the needless deaths of numerous Panamanian civilians so that George H. W. Bush could look presidential while silencing one of his long-time partners in crime, Manuel Noriega. This was a dry run for the little adventure cited above which, supposedly kicked the “Vietnam Syndrome.”
Still not there? Well, there was the covert and illegal sale of chemical and biological weapons to the regime of Saddam Hussein by the United States government, represented by Donald Rumsfeld,, at the behest of William “Mumbles” Casey and the CIA, under the direction of George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Or, the arming of Iran with missiles a scant two years after that country had seized the U.S. embassy and imprisoned its occupants. Surely, that must qualify as a constitutional crisis.
See where I’m going with this? Anytime in the past thirty years that there has been a constitutional crisis, starting with Nixon’s secret dealings with the Viet Cong through Anna Chennault prior to the 1968 presidential elections, it has been precipitated by members of the party that claims to be staunch defenders of the constitution against liberal attack. Think about it – Nixon’s dealings at the Paris peace talks were unlawful; the October Surprise engineered by George H. W. Bush and Mumbles Casey, which followed that illegitimacy by 12 years, was unlawful, but in keeping with their belief that the will of the American people should never stand in the way of what they and their minority of supporters want to see happen.
Did I hear Iran-contra? Funding the Contras by letting their representatives bring massive amounts of cocaine into this country, was carried out by Oliver North, through the office of the Vice President of the United States, George H. W. Bush. The Congress doesn’t want to allocate funds for the Contras? As Dick Cheney would say, “Fuck them!” And a resounding, “Fuck off!” to the American people. As George W. Bush said recently, to a reporter who questioned his policy decisions, “Who cares what you think?”
Oh, why was that a crisis? Well, there were U. S. laws in place, at the time, laws that made any dealings with the Contra regime by supplying it with arms, unlawful. That, of course didn’t matter, because the people in charge of U. S. policy then, and now, do not give one iota what the will of the American happens to be. As in the Hebrew National commercial, they answer to a higher power.
Of course, so do some of the Americans in whose name these crimes were carried out. Some of the millions of Americans who don’t go around with hymns running through their heads, who wonder, quite legitimately, where the hell we took that right turn back there and where is the real road we, as a country, are supposed to be on.
For Ronald Reagan’s supernumeraries and his army of true believers, it was “Morning in America.” Unfortunately, the path down which he and his cronies have led this country has produced much more “Mourning in America.”
I want the time that I spent in Vietnam to not have been in vain, wasted so that little tin dictators can float ideas of unconstitutionally canceling our elections, while the American people just let it happen.
I want my country back.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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