Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Book Review: How Bush Rules


In the closing pages of the 23 page essay, "The Radical President", in which Sidney Blumenthal both introduces and sums up this collection of his columns published between November 1, 2003 and April 27, 2006, there is a paragraph which sums up the Presidency of George W. Bush:

"Bush’s presidency has been uniquely radical in its elevation of absolute executive power, dismissal of the other branches of government, contempt for the law, expansion of power of the vice president, creation of networks of ideological cadres, rejection of accountability, stifling of internal debate, reliance on one-party rule, and overtly political use of war. Never before has a president shown such disdain for science and the constitutional separation between church and state. None of these actions seemed to be in the offing on Bush’s inauguration in 2001; yet they were not sudden impulses, spontaneous reactions, or accidental gestures. They were based on a deliberate strategy to change the presidency and government fundamentally and forever. And these decisions have deep historical roots."

This conclusion is supported by the evidence in the actions of the Bush administration as recorded and analyzed in these essays written for Salon.com and The Guardian as events unfolded. Presented here in, How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime, in chronological order, these short essays--each one delineating a fresh scandal, any one of which should have been the undoing of the administration and would have if not for the arrogant and shameless disregard of law, tradition, reason, and decency of a small cabal--read in rapid succession, set one’s head spinning with outrage over the steady relentless shredding of our national dignity along with our civil rights, our laws, our Constitution, our moral authority, our economy, our environment, our infrastructure, our privacy, our security, our schools, our middle class, our scientific competitiveness, our health, and our honor.

It is tempting to direct a self-righteous venom towards the power-grubbing perpetrators of the unprecedented traducing of all our most sacred values. But, in the end, that outrage is forced to encompass more than the small cabal, more than the ’true believers’ and loyalists who support or excuse their radical policies and egregious failures, more than the corrupt political machine that enforces party discipline, more than the propaganda machine that most of the American media has become, because, as the essays proceed one after another and the evidence contained in them piles up under their original datelines, one is forced to acknowledge that, in spite of all their efforts to suppress them, enough facts and reasoned analysis putting them in historical context did reach public forums to have put the ball in the people’s side of the court. More disturbing than the acts of this administration, which in aggregate serve to dismantle this Republic of ours, is the willingness of so many to sit on the sidelines and watch the ball bounce. For, as Blumenthal notes in the final paragraph of his introduction: "Ultimately, a people is responsible for its leaders. Bush’s legacy will precipitate a crisis over democracy that only the American people can resolve."

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