Character Witness

Beinart, Peter
June 2003
New Republic;6/2/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 21, p6
Recounts instances in which United States President George W. Bush has acted unethically or duplicitous in 2002 and 2003. To conservatives, the Bush administration is everything its predecessor, that of former President Bill Clinton was not: decent, ethical, honest. Texas Republican leader and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay redrew the Texas map to create four more Republican seats. Desperate Democratic legislators fled the state, thus preventing a quorum. Republican leaders then apparently urged Texas police to enlist the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in tracking down the missing Democrats. The Texas Department of Public Safety has inexplicably destroyed all documents concerning this abuse of federal power. Also, the Bush administration is upset that Democrats are filibustering two of its judicial nominees. So Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has called for eliminating the filibuster as we know it. The filibuster could be broken with a simple majority--rendering the device virtually useless. Frist has also threatened to employ a rare parliamentary maneuver to ban filibusters on judicial nominees altogether. On October 7, 2002, Bush declared that "Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions targeting the United States." That was a functional lie. Iraq's drones, the Bush administration later admitted, had a maximum range of several hundred miles. Three days later, the Senate authorized the president to use force against Iraq. And six days after that, the Bush administration announced that North Korea was enriching uranium to build a nuclear weapon. The news prompted a slew of questions about why the president was focused on Saddam Hussein when Kim Jong Il might represent a greater threat. But the North Korea revelation hadn't affected the Senate's Iraq vote because the Bush administration made sure senators hadn't known about it.


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