When a Q & A Lacks Q's
By Gino Rembetes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
One word can best describe President Bush’s March 6 news conference:
And it’s not just Bush who’s at fault.
He said nothing that was new, spewing the same anti-Saddam Hussein
platitudes he’s been using for months in an effort to drum up public
support for a war on Iraq; that effort’s success is debatable.
He dodged key questions, such as how much the war will cost the United
States economically, socially, and geopolitically.
Perhaps worst, he said some things that were false or half-true, and
reporters failed to challenge him.
He took an oath, he reminded everyone, to defend the U.S. Constitution.
True enough. But there’s something that neither he nor any reporter
mentioned: Bush and his administration, aided and abetted by Congress,
have flouted the Constitution in numerous ways:
Congress passed a resolution giving Bush carte blanche on
military deployments and actions in the Middle East. “We’re at war!”
they’ve been shouting since Sept. 11, 2001. The Constitution vests the
power to declare war in Congress. I don’t recall Bush asking for such a
declaration, much less Congress making one. Hats off to the six congressmembers who are taking the matter to court,
precisely on constitutional grounds.
The Patriot and Homeland Security acts contain numerous
provisions that egregiously violate the Bill of Rights. Now, Attorney
General John Ashcroft is floating a Domestic Security Enhancement Act
(nicknamed Patriot II) that makes the other two measures seem like a tea
party. Patriot II is so bad that it’s raising eyebrows among lots of
congressmembers, including some Republicans.
Bush also said that before the September 2001 attacks, people labored
under the illusion that the oceans rendered the nation invulnerable to
attack. Not true: The Atlantic didn’t protect us from the British during
the War of 1812. The much wider Pacific didn’t prevent Japan from bombing
Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. During the Cold War, Americans built bomb
shelters and schoolkids learned to duck under their desks in preparation
for the nuclear holocaust we feared the Evil Empire would rain upon us.
And Timothy McVeigh didn’t have to cross either ocean to destroy the
Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Again, no reporter challenged Bush’s skewing of the facts.
A friend told me recently of meeting a 20-something woman who’d never
heard of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and a 30-something woman who’d never heard
of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“My stomach literally knotted when I heard these things,” the friend
said. “Aren’t the schools teaching history any more? Don’t people read
newspapers? Even the TV newscasts mention the ACLU now and then, and TV is
where most people get most of their news.”
It’s bad enough when the average jane or joe is poorly informed. But
when the people who are supposed to inform us don’t do their own homework,
we’re in deep, deep trouble.
Gino Rembetes is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and