It's a sad commentary when the Executioner of Austin can't even properly hang the Butcher of Baghdad. In one and a half terms as Governor of Texas, George W. Bush presided over more executions than the other forty-nine states combined. He was on a par with Judge Roy Bean with handing out Texas-style justice. They wouldn't allow him to hang anyone, although his "dead-or-alive" mentality may have preferred it. If he had to abide by that sissy lethal injection business, Bush was going to run the most efficient "stick-em and brick-em" operation in law enforcement. He did, however, demonstrate his compassionate-conservative side when supporters of the born-again Christian, Karla Faye Tucker, pleaded for leniency. Bush promised to pray for her before she was put to death, thus making her the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.
Of course the US Government says the hanging of Saddam was an Iraqi affair and they had nothing to do with it because they were too busy preparing to celebrate Eid. But the entire hooded, lynch-mob was helicoptered into the Green Zone and taken to the execution chamber by US forces. And what was to be a mark of achievement by the elected Iraqi government has been degraded and translated into more outrage and fury in the streets. Bush has managed to do what even Saddam's personal attorney's were unable to do at his sham trial; create sympathy for a tyrant and a killer, and make him into a martyr for Sunni Muslims all over the middle-east. Heckuva job, Bushie. And all over another pesky cell-phone video. Somewhere Michael Richards is saying "I know how he feels." Bush enjoys Western lore. Didn't he ever read the "Ox-Bow Incident?" Disciplined hangmen must be hard to find in Moktada Al-Sadr's army. But Dubya has achieved the motivating reason for his presidency; he's killed Saddam for Daddy. Do we feel better now? Bush used to enjoy showing Saddam's pistol to visitors in the Oval Office. Now, in the words of Lyndon Johnson, "he has his pecker in his pocket."
All of that controversy was unfolding while the Gerald Ford farewell tour dominated domestic news. It's hard to work up any animus over Gerry Ford. Even the sting of the Nixon pardon has lessened with time. What remains is the fact that Ford's actions regarding Nixon subverted the judicial process by offering a blanket pardon for crimes for which Nixon had not yet been charged. I'm no lawyer, but I watch "Law and Order." Nixon should have been required to allocute before receiving his pardon. Otherwise, what's to stop him from stalking and killing John Dean with his bare hands? But Gerald Ford did calm the post-Watergate vitriol as evidenced by George McGovern's confession that he voted for Ford over Carter in 1976, and did offer a soothing presence while presiding over the collapse of Saigon. Other than that, I mostly remember his policy to fight rampant inflation was to print up a bunch of buttons that said "WIN," for "whip inflation now." It didn't work.
Gerald Ford's comments to Bob Woodward published posthumously in the Washington Post show a deference towards the current administration that might have been courteous, but less effective than had they been printed while Ford was alive. Ford said he "very strongly" disagreed with the President's decision to invade Iraq and chastised his former employees Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld by saying, "Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq." As the troika's excuses for war switched from WMD to the US' "duty to free people," President Ford said, "I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."
While Bush41, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Goober eulogized Ford as a man of wisdom, newspaper readers were discovering that Ford had said "I don't think, if I had been president..I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer." While Cheney choked up at the funeral podium over the good old days with his boss, Ford had described him as "pugnacious" as vice president and agreed that Cheney had developed a "fever" about Iraq and the so-called "war on terror." The "Accidental President" never claimed to be brilliant, but he had wisdom tempered by war. Something that his proteges never experienced.
Now on the eve of the swearing in of the 110th Congress, Bush is earnestly appealing for bi-partisanship. He has seemingly rejected the Iraq Study Group Report and dawdled for the month since it was presented talking to anyone with an opinion about Iraq, until he heard the one he wants. Had he only spent as much time in consultation before invading Iraq. Now, he can't be rushed. Early reports say that Bush will do what he intended to do all along. He will ignore the American people, the "generals on the ground," particularly General Casey, the Iraq Study Group, and the soldiers themselves by committing up to 40,000 more troops to the flames to try and save face, Nixon style.
If the 110th Congress has been given any mandate at all, it is to bring this Iraqi horror to an end. If the president refuses to submit a plan for withdrawal, but a "surge" instead, he must be stopped, Nixon style. Not with impeachment, but the cutting off of funds for the war for any other purpose than evacuating our troops from Iraq and transporting them home. If Bush thinks he can play bully-boy to a Democratic congress, I believe he is in for a rude awakening. At least, I hope he is. It's too late in Bush's term to devote the daily attention and man hours needed toward preparing impeachment. In any case, we would have to impeach Cheney first, which would only allow Bush to appoint a caretaker vice president, just like Gerald Ford, that he trusts would carry on his tattered legacy and consider a pardon sometime down the road. In such a scenario, we may one day again hear the words, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over," from President Condoleeza Rice.