Marginal Footnotes


Bernstein Funnies
April 23, 2006, 3:22 pm
Filed under: Media, Politics, Uncategorized

Carl Bernstein, that intrepid if often overlooked unveiler of Watergate, is calling for a full-scale Senate investigation of the Bush presidency.  Such an investigation would, in Bernstein's imagination, enable the president and his people to answer whether or not

'lying, disinformation, misinformation, and manipulation of information have been a basic matter of policy—used to overwhelm dissent; to hide troublesome truths and inconvenient data from the press, public, and Congress; and to defend the president and his actions when he and they have gone awry or utterly failed.'

I bet I know the answer, when pressed, the president and his people might give.  I bet you do, too.  Bernstein knows the answer as well, which he forcefully outlines throughout his peice by lucidly documenting the often comical-only-if-they-weren't-so-dangerous missteps and misadventures of the Bush administration.  He explicates the whole long and dirty list.  Despite the asserted truths of systematic dissembling, Bernstein suggests that such an investigation must be bipartisan (good luck!) and not take as its point of departure analyses like those which form the central thesis of Bernstein's argument:

'It must not be a fishing expedition—and not only because the pond is so loaded with fish.'

If, as Bernstein argues, the pond is so loaded, what would be the point of an investigation?  Presumably not, as he suggests, to ascertain the truth. The truth is known.  The point would be rather a rather public and highly political dressing-down of the president and the machinations of his terminally upsetting government.  Which is fine.  I support that.  But please, at least have the intellectual decency simply to admit that this is the goal rather than attempting to shroud it behind some noble, apolitical adventure through which the American system of government can 'acquit' itself.

Bernstein asks an important, if self-evident, question:

'Is incompetence an impeachable offense?'

The answer to which, he suggests, is not an obvious and resounding 'no' but one which can be determined by a 'proper fact-finding investigation' and 'public hearings conducted by a sober, distinguished committee of Congress'. 

Is there such a thing? What sort of problems might arise from impeaching a president on the non-constitutionally listed grounds of 'incompetence', whatever that means?  No doubt people like Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich in their heyday could have identified scores of incompetencies related to Clinton's running of the state.    

Bernstein's essay is so vast and constitutes such a re-hashing of pretty much every clearly identifiable Bush boo-boo that it functionally amounts to a trial and supplants the need for the Senate to undertake such an endeavor. Bernstein concludes:  

'The system has thus far failed during the presidency of George W. Bush—at incalculable cost in human lives, to the American political system, to undertaking an intelligent and effective war against terror, and to the standing of the United States in parts of the world where it previously had been held in the highest regard'.

The suggestion here really is asinine.  It's asinine in its presumption that a sufficient number of Senate Republicans would be somehow persuaded that it is in their interests to investigate the President of the United States.  And it's asinine in its total lack of subtlety.  Initially I thought this article was a joke, but then I saw Bernstein on the boob tube as serious as can be.     

–mpd

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