Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, May 04, 2004  

I believe we may have seen the high-water mark on the Bush presidency. Iraq is now an abject failure--none of the rationales for going to war were accurate, none of the objectives (meager though they were) have been accomplished. Bush's strength--his "clarity"--is now his greatest weakness as people in the "American Idol" voting bloc tumble to his extreme ideology. And then there are the scandals. For a guy who was going to bring honor to the White House, W couldn't have failed more spectacularly.

Now we have new accusations that Bush broke the law.

The Congressional Research Service says the Bush administration apparently violated federal law by ordering the chief Medicare actuary to withhold information from Congress indicating that the new Medicare law could cost far more than White House officials had said.

In a report on Monday, the research service said that Congress's "right to receive truthful information from federal agencies to assist in its legislative functions is clear and unassailable." Since 1912, it said, federal laws have protected the rights of federal employees to communicate with Congress, and recent laws have "reaffirmed and strengthened" those protections.

The actuary, Richard S. Foster, has testified that he was ordered to withhold the cost estimates last year, when Congress was considering legislation to add a drug benefit to Medicare. The order, he said, came from Thomas A. Scully, who was then the administrator of Medicare.

Mr. Foster said Mr. Scully threatened to discipline him for insubordination if he gave Congress the data.

Bush has spent a slacker lifetime living at the margins of the law, waiting for someone powerful to bail him out once he inevitably screwed up. This pattern goes back to well before his time in elective office, to when he skipped out of his Guard commitment and cashed in his Harken stock right before the company failed. As president, he's followed the same pattern--leap before thinking, bungle, cover up. This revelation is but a bullet in a long list of dubious actions--some of which certainly seem illegal.

The "American Idol" bloc are sensitive to politics only on the grossest level. For them, the news must be negative for so long that the impression shifts from "plainspoken Christian" to "another corrupt rich guy who thinks he's above the law." How many of these stories can Bush sustain before he's permanently in the latter category?

posted by Jeff | 7:06 AM |
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