Paul Krugman: The Treason Card

Expect Paul to be crucified by the Malkin/FrontPage crowd (again).

The Treason Card
Published: July 7, 2006

The nature of the right-wing attack on The New York Times – an attack not on the newspaper’s judgment, but on its motives – seems to have startled many people in the news media. After an editorial in The Wall Street Journal declared that The Times has what amount to treasonous intentions – that it “has as a major goal not winning the war on terror but obstructing it” – The Journal’s own political editor pronounced himself “shocked,” saying that “I don’t know anybody on the news staff of The Wall Street Journal that believes that.”

But anyone who was genuinely shocked by The Journal’s willingness to play the treason card must not have been paying attention these past five years.

Over the last few months a series of revelations have confirmed what should have been obvious a long time ago: the Bush administration and the movement it leads have been engaged in an authoritarian project, an effort to remove all the checks and balances that have heretofore constrained the executive branch.

Much of this project involves the assertion of unprecedented executive authority – the right to imprison people indefinitely without charges (and torture them if the administration feels like it), the right to wiretap American citizens without court authorization, the right to declare, when signing laws passed by Congress, that the laws don’t really mean what they say.

But an almost equally important aspect of the project has been the attempt to create a political environment in which nobody dares to criticize the administration or reveal inconvenient facts about its actions. And that attempt has relied, from the beginning, on ascribing treasonous motives to those who refuse to toe the line. As far back as 2002, Rush Limbaugh, in words very close to those used by The Wall Street Journal last week, accused Tom Daschle, then the Senate majority leader, of a partisan “attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism.”

Those of us who tried to call attention to this authoritarian project years ago have long marveled over the reluctance of many of our colleagues to acknowledge what was going on. For example, for a long time many people in the mainstream media applied a peculiar double standard to political speech, denouncing perfectly normal if forceful political rhetoric from the left as poisonous “Bush hatred,” while chuckling indulgently over venom from the right. (That Ann Coulter, she’s such a kidder.)

But now the chuckling has stopped: somehow, nobody seems to find calls to send Bill Keller to the gas chamber funny. And while the White House clearly believes that attacking The Times is a winning political move, it doesn’t have to turn out that way – not if enough people realize what’s at stake.

For I think that most Americans still believe in the principle that the president isn’t a king, that he isn’t entitled to operate without checks and balances. And President Bush is especially unworthy of our trust, because on every front – from his refusal to protect chemical plants to his officials’ exposure of Valerie Plame, from his toleration of war profiteering to his decision to place the C.I.A. in the hands of an incompetent crony – he has consistently played politics with national security.

And he has done so with the approval and encouragement of the same people now attacking The New York Times for its alleged lack of patriotism.

Does anyone remember the editorial that The Wall Street Journal published on Sept. 19, 2001? “So much for Florida,” the editorial began, celebrating the way the terrorist attack had pushed aside concerns over the legitimacy of the Supreme Court decision that installed Mr. Bush in the White House. The Journal then warned Mr. Bush not to give in to the “temptation” to “subjugate everything else to the priority of getting bipartisan support for the war on terrorism.” Instead, it urged him to use the “political capital” generated by the atrocity to push through tax cuts and right-wing judicial appointments.

Things have changed since then: Mr. Bush’s ability to wrap his power grab in the flag has diminished now that most Americans no longer consider him either competent or honest. But the administration and its supporters still believe that they can win political battles by impugning the patriotism of those who won’t go along.

For the sake of our country, let’s hope that they’re wrong.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

Bush has supreme confidence that he is right, that what he does is what God wants done.

Therefore, any opposition to him is automatically wrong and subversive.

Bush’s boldness is beyond anything seen in American politics. His daring is breath-taking.

Bush’s “Brain” – Rove – has a plan to demonize and marginalize the Democrats for the next 40 years. We see the plan carried out daily.

They mean business; they want to remove all opposition to Bush and Bush-ism for decades to come.

To do this, they have to destroy anybody who
challenges them; Paul Krugman, for example; the NY Times, for another.

The Republicans act in lock-step, thanks to “Enforcers” of the Tom Delay type.

Therefore, the have declared war on Democrats and what they stand for. They wish to undo all the Democrats have achieved since FDR.

The only logical response is to recognize that – whether we like it or not – we’re in a war. That political restraint, compromise, logical defenses of our position no longer suffice.

Rather, we must do everything possible to
destroy the Bush Admin and their Republican foot-soldiers which threaten us and the America we love.

If they prevail, America will become a nation that I, for one, no longer could love.


July 7, 2006 @ 6:37 am | Comment

The key phrase here is “authoritarian project.” It doesn’t surprise me that many Americans are slow to perceive this and reluctant to admit it. The sort of authoritarianism practiced by the Bush Administration flies in the face of our fundamental national mythos: that we are a nation of laws, of checks and balances, a democracy, the best country in the world, the beacon of freedom and opportunity.

That it can’t happen here.

But it can, and it has already happened.

When Sandra Day O’Connor warns that it’s much easier not to go down the road of fascism than to turn back from it and find your way home again, you know things are pretty damn serious.

July 7, 2006 @ 11:27 am | Comment

I hope the 50%+ of American voters who voted Bush into office a 2ND TIME might contemplate that they may bear some PERSONAL responsibility for
the Bush administration’s transgressions. Transgressions against US and international laws, and international standards of morality, such as the Geneva Conventions forbidding torture, and against the launching of unprovoked wars.

Bush term 2 is just a continuation of term 1 policies and errors. The only thing that’s changed is more people have awakened to the view that supporting Bush on Iraq and other policies was (oops!) a serious mistake.
What took them so long?

Perhaps some would like to blame the media and the administration for misleading them. But ,unfortunately,people choose to watch Fox TV, and other lesser MSM fact distorters, and apparently they chose to believe what they wanted to believe instead of looking slightly deeper and allowing themselves to be skeptical in face of available facts, such as that Bush’s neocon cronies had already scripted an invasion/regime change in Iraq long before 9:11 for ideological, not urgent national security reasons.

All along there was much reason to be skeptical about a policy of invading Iraq, in spite of the US MSM’s bias in favour of it. All along there were many reliable news sources available that gave more factually balanced and skeptical coverage: NPR, some good US newspaper reporting, many individual columnists, including Paul Krugman, the BBC and UK papers,Canada’s CBC papers, and many news websites and blogs.

Particularly those US voters with internet access have only themselves to blame if they were “seduced” to a pro-war position due to misinformation! Or if they buy into continuing misinformation from Bush or his media cheerleaders such as the WSJ, (and still too many) others.

If tens of thousands of Iraqis, and 2500+ US soldiers have been needlessly killed over a foolhardy war, those who voted the Bush regime in, especially for a 2nd time in 2004, might reflect that they themselves, along with the administration, have much blood on their hands, and deserve to be stricken with nightmares and wracked with guilt!

July 7, 2006 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

I’ll never understand it.

Plus, there were plenty of mainstream media sources that reported what was going on, particularly in Iraq, with some degree of accuracy. LA Times and Knight-Ridder come to mind.

July 7, 2006 @ 2:32 pm | Comment

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