The Truth, Mainly - 07/17/2006

An Anti-impeachment Argument
by Leon Satterfield

I got corrected on my last column—the one about the Bush administration's "what, me worry?" view about torture. I ended it with this comparison:

"We impeached our previous president for a tawdry affair which his wife apparently forgave him for. If the buck still stops at the President's desk, is it time to consider torture as serious a crime as a tawdry affair?"

I thought it was a pretty nifty conclusion—then I got e-mail pointing out that Clinton was impeached not for his tawdry affair with Monica Lewinsky, but for his perjury, for lying about his tawdry affair with Monica Lewinsky. My World Almanac verified the e-mail, and piqued my interest enough that I did a google search for "President Clinton's lies."

Google responded by telling me that as of 5:11 p.m. on July 11, 2006, there were "about 1,400,001" listings out there in googleland.

Then, out of idle curiosity, I did a google search for "President Bush's lies." Google replied that as of 5:14 p.m. on July 11, 2006, there were "about 31,200,000" listings in googleland.

That may have been the total for both President Bushes, but it's still a daunting number. I know, I know. Bush is now, Clinton was then. And google wasn't around in Clinton days, was it? Still, I couldn't help thinking of our first President George who famously said "I cannot tell a lie."

And that reminded me of Mark Twain's boast: "I am different from Washington: I have a higher, grander standard or principle: Washington could not lie. I can lie, but I won't."

I suspect Twain was lying when he said that.

The big difference between Twain's lies and presidential lies is that Twain's are obvious, funny, and instructive. Presidents' lies are not. Presidents' lies are usually self-serving and often dangerous as all get out because, having uttered his lies, the President begins believing them and too often the result is that lots of people die.

President Bush's biggest lie so far is that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11, and that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction out the ying-yang and we knew exactly where they were hidden. So the president got to invade Iraq.

But more than three years later, we still haven't found the weapons of mass destruction.

The far more likely culprit for 9/11 is Osama bin Laden—who is still bragging about pulling off the catastrophe. But the Bush administration lost interest in him within a few months of the fall of the twin towers—probably because bin Laden and Saddam Hussein don't like each other and we were far more interested in getting Saddam than in getting bin Laden.

Don't believe it? Compare the number of U.S. troops in Iraq with the number in Afghanistan where bin Laden hangs out. And remember that we nabbed Saddam several years ago and bin Laden is still avoiding capture.

Even an English major can draw some conclusions.

So why, you might ask this English major, are we more interested in Saddam and Iraq than in bin Laden and Afghanistan?

There are many reasons. Here, I think, are the top three:

(1) Saddam, no knight in shining armor who plays by the rules, tried to have Bush Sr. killed shortly after our first war with Iraq in 1991. Bush Jr. understandably dislikes Saddam immensely for that.

(2) Bush spent many of his formative years in Texas. (An admission: I took basic training at Ft. Bliss, Texas back in 1954 and I haven't liked Texas since.) Texans—other than Molly Ivins—understand and appreciate oil wells. Iraq has lots and lots of oil wells and many more waiting to be drilled and exploited. Bush knows how much fun it is to exploit lots and lots of untapped oil. It comes from breathing all that Texas air.

(3) Bush believes that Christians are God's Chosen People and as such have the divine authority to treat non-Christians as wicked folks who don't deserve to tap into oil wells because God created oil—much more in Iraq than in Afghanistan—so Christians can get rich and drive fast.

Any questions? Too late. I'm about to drag you into a conclusion.

If we were right in impeaching Clinton for being a randy jerk with Monica, surely, one might deduce, we have grounds for impeaching Bush for taking us into a war, and misleading us on who was responsible for 9/11.

But more importantly, we should remember that Bush has a powerful bit of job security insurance against impeachment in Vice President Cheney. We kick Bush out of the White House and Cheney moves in.

Is our president a clever rascal or what?


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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