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The Political Apotheosis of Reagan and Rash Justification of Bush

June 9th, 2004

Remember how the Republicans were shocked, horrified, and aghast that a few Democrats at the podium of Senator Paul Wellstone’s memorial service suggested that his political legacy be fulfilled in the special election to replace him? How the Republicans used their alligator-tear “outrage” to beat the Democrats over the head and win that election?

In the past few days, Republicans have done what the Democrats did, but a hundred times over, not just by glorifying a whitewashed version of Reagan’s political legacy and using that to shower warm praise of Bush–not to mention make endless direct comparisons between Reagan and Bush–now Bush’s own re-election campaign site (often unavailable) has become a virtual shrine to Reagan. Republicans are draping themselves in the flag of Reagan, and while none are saying explicitly, “Reagan died, so vote for us,” the message could not be more loud and clear.

Conservatives have been also taking shots at liberals about how they must be so glad that Reagan is dead–but if the truth be told, the GOP must be filled with glee at the timing of his demise. What better use for Reagan’s death than in the midst of a contested campaign season? Their only regret must be that he did not have the decency to hold on and then die a few days before election day.

In the meantime, it is gratifying to see that the Bush administration was not able to derail media attention to all their scandals; new attention is being focused on administration documents that justify the use of torture. These documents, which include legal views such as “authority to set aside the laws is ‘inherent in the president'” harken back to the good old days of Nixon’s “The president is above the law” mindset.

These legal findings make it a bit more difficult for the administration to claim that it was all the fault of the soldiers they have been blaming, a “few bad apples” doing the deeds while the administration is pristine-clean. Ashcroft is trying to defend all of this by saying that Bush never used the legal findings and it’s just coincidence that all that torture took place.

The image comes to mind of a child proclaiming in the morning, “I don’t care what mommy and daddy say, I can eat as many cookies as I want!”–then an hour later finding the cookie jar empty, and a brazen child with crumbs on his shirt claiming that it was all the dog’s fault, he had nothing to do with it.

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