by Kim Petersen
March 21, 2003
One could only shake his or her head in utter dismay. There it was, a brief quip innocuously tucked away one-quarter into the story: “Minutes before the speech, an internal television monitor showed the president pumping his fist. ‘Feels good,’ he said.” (1) This extraordinary sentence received no further attention. It will be interesting to see if any major media pick up on this story. This was Mr. George Bush, leader of the world’s only superpower, gloating over an attack on a war-ravaged and destitute Iraqi nation. Feeling good about an attack that will imperil over a million Iraqi youngsters according to a UN report.
Iraq is supposedly being attacked because Mr. Bush knows, and he says the rest of us know also, that his nemesis President Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction (WMD). UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix seems at least a little skeptical about Iraq having WMD. If the US and UK invasion forces don’t find WMD then “it would indeed be a ‘paradox’, as Mr Blix put it, that ‘you have sent in 250,000 men to wage war in order to find nothing.’” (2)
Rania Masri posed an important question with answer: “Have we forgotten what is most important? Human life.” (3) Apparently Mr. Bush has although it might be more correctly argued that he doesn’t consider all human life most important. Otherwise there is difficulty explaining his record.
Undefended Afghanistan saw many more Afghani civilians killed than 9-11.
Mr. Bush’s stint as Texan governor saw him preside over 152 death sentences in five years. While Texas governor Mr. Bush confidently declaimed "that every person that has been put to death in Texas under my watch has been guilty of the crime charged, and has had full access to the courts." (4)
A Chicago Tribune story countered compellingly that the Texan death-penalty system was broken. Numerous cases of slipshod legal representation, unethical psychiatric testimony, false autopsies, a shamed judge, and a finding by State Bar of Texas that legal services for the poor were “a national embarrassment” gave lie to Mr. Bush’s assertion. (5)
Mr. Bush’s attitude to those death-row inmates has been characterized as “shallow and callous,” and “seemingly indifferent.” (6) Mr. Bush is the man who in the second presidential debate “looked at moderator Jim Lehrer, grinned as though he were telling a hilarious joke and asked rhetorically what was going to happen to the three white Texans who dragged a black man to death? ‘They're going to be put to death,’ he said. He repeated it several times, gleefully.” (7)
Most infamously in a Talk magazine interview with Tucker Carlson, Mr. Bush made light of then death-row inmate Karla Faye Tucker. Ms. Tucker’s plight was the subject of a TV show by Larry King whose question was mocked by Mr. Bush: “He asked her real difficult questions like, ‘What would you say to Gov. Bush?’” Mr. Carlson recorded Bush’s response as whimpered in mimicked derision: “‘Please don’t kill me.’” (8)
This is a psychological portrayal of a person flirting with sadism. Journalists Toby Rogers and Nick Mamatas, in consideration of Mr. Bush’s claim to be a compassionate conservative, reasoned “Bush is far less than compassionate, and far more than conservative.” (9) This dubious character was hijacked into the presidency, has enriched his wealthy backers, has made mincemeat of civil rights (over 1000 anti-war dissidents were arrested in San Francisco the other day), (10) and is prosecuting the never-ending War on Terror. A fist-pumping president feeling good about waging war. Eerie.
Kim Petersen is an English teacher living in China. Email: email@example.com
(1) Martin Merzer, Ron Hutcheson and Drew Brown, “War begins in Iraq with strikes aimed at `leadership targets,' Knight Ridder Newspapers, Thursday 20 March 2003: http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/5434637.htm
(2) Editorial, “After all the doubts, only one aim can justify this war: freedom for the Iraqi people,” The Independent, 21 March 2003: http://argument.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/story.jsp?story=389120
(3)Rania Masri, “What About Humanity?” Dissident Voice, 20 March 2003: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles2/Masri_Humanity.htm
(4) Anthony Lewis, “Texas Executions: GW Bush Has Defined Himself, Unforgettably, As Shallow And Callous,” New York Times, Saturday, 17 July 2000. As seen on the Common Dreams website: http://www.commondreams.org/views/061700-102.htm
(7) Editorial, ”Death In Texas: Bush's Pride In Executions Is Grotesque,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, Wednesday, October 18, 2000. As seen on the Common Dreams website: http://www.commondreams.org/views/101800-102.htm
(8) Lars-Erik Nelson, “The wise-guy, frat boy side of Bush: The Texas governor has less compassion than most think,” The Daily Athenaeum, Thursday, 26 August 1999: http://www.da.wvu.edu/archives/992608/news/992608,04,02.html
(9) Toby Rogers and Nick Mamatas, “Who Is George W. Bush?” Monitor, 30 January 2000: http://www.monitor.net/monitor/0001a/fortunateson.html
(10) AP, “1,000 arrests at San Francisco demo,” The Independent, 21 March 2003: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=389212