My brother’s column today includes a point-counterpoint between Bush’s assertion’s about the US today and the acts of his administration:
It was an amazing moment: After the introductory comments,
Andrey Kolesnikov, a correspondent for the Russian business newspaper
Kommersant, got up and said — albeit not so succinctly, and not in
English — Hey, no wonder you guys see eye to eye! You’re both
This prompted Bush to launch into a possibly unprecedented defense
of himself as a democratic leader. He did it by describing his view of
And while Putin didn’t challenge what Bush said, there have been
some news reports of late that suggest that things may not be as black
and white as Bush said.
“I live in a transparent country.
grows to rein in message; Ranks of federal public affairs officials
have swelled under Bush to help tighten control on communiques to
media, access to information, Newsday, Feb. 24, 2005; Administration Paid Commentator; Education Dept. Used Williams to Promote ‘No Child’ Law, Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2005; Groups raise concerns about increased classification of documents, GOVEXEC.com, Oct. 27, 2004.
“I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide
open and people are able to call people to — me to account, which many
out here do on a regular basis.
• High Court Backs Vice President; Energy Documents Shielded for Now, Washington Post, June 25, 2004; Mr. President, will you answer the question?, NiemanWathchdog.org, Dec. 3, 2004; Bush Says Election Ratified Iraq Policy, Washington Post, Jan. 16, 2005 (in which Bush says: “We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 elections.”)
“Our laws and the reasons why we have laws on the books are
perfectly explained to people. Every decision we have made is within
the Constitution of the United States. We have a constitution that we
• How U.S. rewrote terror law in secrecy; White House group devised new system in aftermath of 9/11, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2004; In Cheney’s Shadow, Counsel Pushes the Conservative Cause, Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2004; Slim Legal Grounds for Torture Memos; Most Scholars Reject Broad View of Executive’s Power, Washington Post, July 4, 2004.
“And if there’s a question as to whether or not a law meets that
constitution, we have an independent court system through which that
law is reviewed.
• Recount 2000: Decision Sharpens the Justices’ Divisions; Dissenters See Harm to Voting Rights and the Court’s Own Legitimacy, Washington Post, Dec. 13, 2000; Scalia Won’t Sit Out Case On Cheney; Justice’s Memo Details Hunting Trip With VP, Washington Post, March 19, 2004.
“So I’m perfectly comfortable in telling you our country is one that
safeguards human rights and human dignity, and we resolve our disputes
in a peaceful way.”
• Torture at Abu Ghraib, the New Yorker, May 10, 2004; Ground War Starts, Airstrikes Continue As U.S. Keeps Focus on Iraq’s Leaders, Washington Post, March 21, 2003.
Although Dan provides a pretty good start on a list here, it’s hardly complete. For example, I’d contrast Bush’s claim that “Our laws and the reasons why we have laws on the books are perfectly explained to people” with the reality that the administration uses secret regulations to control the right to travel. (For background see for example, Secret Rule Requiring ID for Flights at Center of Court Battle, and Gilmore v. Ashcroft.)