Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Once Great Nation

The United States of America could once claim to be the greatest nation on earth, and the claim was close to undeniable. They had the best standard of living, the most powerful military, the best education system, the strongest currency, and most of all they had the unassailable might of the Constitution of the United States with its Bill of Rights. The prosperous, happy people were virtually guaranteed that their prosperity and happiness would continue.

When I was growing up in the 50's and 60's, I would have gladly gone along with the idea of having Canada join with the US. The excesses of the Nixon administration and the inadequate response to, and resolution of those excesses caused me to abandon that position. Nixon, in my opinion, made a direct and deliberate attack on the Constitution, overstepping the limits of his Presidential authority and threatening the rights of American citizens from the Oval Office. In an outrageous turn of events he was allowed to appoint his own successor, and that successor was allowed to pardon Nixon for any and all crimes committed in office. I believe this set a dangerous precedent, and was the first time in America someone had been pardoned of a crime (or multiple crimes) prior to being convicted or even charged.

The consequences of letting Nixon off the hook are what led to the present situation. By allowing Nixon to leave office, and by not pursuing the charges against him, the US congress and Justice Department gave a green light to later malfeasance. This led to the Reagan administration's reckless involvement in the Iran/Contra scandal. Which in some ways was worse than what Nixon had done. At least Nixon never gave American military weapons to a recognized enemy of the United States. This particular activity perfectly fits the definition of treason. And again, the response to high crimes and misdemeanors in direct defiance of constitutional protections was woefully inadequate. Vice President George Bush, who was likely at the helm of the conspiracy, became President and issued pardons to many of the malfactors. Major Oliver North was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, retired from the military, and actually went on to run for public office. Meanwhile Nixon was comfortably retired to San Clemente when he should have been in San Quentin, and acquired the status of elder statesman.

When history looks back at the shameful actions of the present administration there will be no question as to why he felt he could get away with such egregious, despicable and flagrant behaviour. They will just point to the outcomes of the Watergate and Iran/Contra scandals.

Try not to let it happen again. If by some unlikely convergence of events there is a chance the younger George Bush answers for his crimes, make sure he pays. After impeachment and conviction for treason, send him to the Hague for war-crimes investigations. Otherwise, the next time will be worse. Again.

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