Andy engages in some recreational Bush bashing, swings, and hits himself in the face:
This quote might help clear up some misunderstandings about president Bush. It certainly helped me see the world as he sees it. For Bush, accountability in government is a total, once-every-four-years thing. Individual mis-steps or mistakes are not subject to accountability – whether in war-planning or fiscal matters or anything else. When someone fucks up, the most important thing is to extend loyalty, not reprimand. There’s only one moment of accountability for a president and that’s the election, which encompasses everything the president and anyone in his administration have done. So re-election logically means that the public waives its right to hold any individual in government accountable for anything for the next four years:
Well, we had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 election. And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me, for which I’m grateful.
So our job as people not in the administration is now to sit back and hope for the best. We had our chance. We lost. As Mel Brooks almost observed, it’s good to be the president.
First, let’s provide the context for the quote, as the President was asked the folowing:
In Iraq, there’s been a steady stream of surprises. We weren’t welcomed as liberators, as Vice President Cheney had talked about. We haven’t found the weapons of mass destruction as predicted. The postwar process hasn’t gone as well as some had hoped. Why hasn’t anyone been held accountable, either through firings or demotions, for what some people see as mistakes or misjudgments?
To which he responded with the quote provided by Coy Andy. Not satisfied, hawkish Andy wants blood. Why weren’t people fired? Why were there no demotions? And off goes our fearless pundit into some babble about loyalty. This ties in with Sullivan’s meta-narrative about the Bush presidency, with a cabal of neo-cons who have won over the President, and with the emphasis on loyalty for theprivileged few rather than performance and fairness and acountability under the law.
Except, as always, Andy truncated the damn quote, eliminating the response to the question Andy is now demagoguing. Bush’s quote continues:
Listen, in times of war, things don’t go exactly as planned. Some were saying there was no way that Saddam Hussein would be toppled as quickly as we toppled him. Some were saying there would be mass refugee flows and starvation, which didn’t happen. My only point is, is that, on a complicated matter such as removing a dictator from power and trying to help achieve democracy, sometimes the unexpected will happen, both good and bad.
Bush believed the intelligence. Kerry believed the intelligence, and we all believed the intelligence. That is why we went to war. Bush is working to fix the CIA (with, guess what- demotions and firing taking place daily, much to the horror of Mr. Sullivan). However, Bush does not believe that the people who acted with good faith deserve to be thrown overboard, and I would agree.
As far as Sullivan’s mocking Bush’s perception of the election as an ‘accountability moment,’ once again, the joke is on Andy. Incumbent Presidents do run on their record, which is why two-term Presidents are such an exclusive group. In fat, this is the entire purpose of voters guides, it is why no Senator has been elected since Kennedy- their record has served as a noose. Should the people determine that the President has not performed to their liking, they do not re-elect them, and this is not unheard of in modern times. I am sure Andrew is familiar with President’s Ford, Carter, and Bush 1.
Second, it is clear that Bush has a much firmer grasp on the concept of representative Democracy than Andy does. Has Andy ever wondered why the Senate is a 6 year term, the President is a 4 year term, and the House a 2 year term? Initially, there was a great debate over the length of the President’s term, with 4 years, 7 years, and 11 years suggested. At one point, the President was to be elected by Congress to a term of seven years.
The founders were very concerned about a tyrannical executive, and ultimately decided that one man should serve as President for four year terms, thus mking it easier for congress to keep check on his power. Once again, Bush has it right. Accountability of the President is limited to the elections and the oversight of Congress, who has the power to impeach and remove the President.
I guess they just don’t teach that in her majesty’s private schools.