THE BLOG

One Nation, Two Presidents

11/08/2005 04:09 pm 16:09:28 | Updated May 25, 2011

A year ago, Americans went to the polls and voted for a President, but we got two instead.

We have George W. Bush, the President of domestic policy, appointing a self-described fashion god who left the Gulf Coast underwater. And we have Dick Cheney, the President of foreign policy – an area that includes secret CIA prisons around the world.

Today, the President of foreign policy is trying to round up votes in the Senate to exempt the CIA from an amendment that would ban the torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. It’s a sure sign that America has lost its way when we even have to talk about banning torture and the inhumane treatment of prisoners.

America has never had two Presidents until now, and America has never had a question about its moral integrity, until now. The President of Foreign Policy would have us believe that we must become the enemy to defeat the enemy. Like so much from this Administration, this is not true.

Throughout our history, Presidents have led this nation through wars at home and abroad by remaining true to America’s principles and values. In the mid 19th century, America had never before faced a more ferocious enemy than the one from within that reduced us to Civil War. But President Abraham Lincoln never lost sight of what we were fighting for. He said: “Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.”

In the early 20th century, America had never before faced a more ferocious enemy than the one that plunged the whole world into war. But President Woodrow Wilson did not forget what America stood for in World War 1. He said: “The present and all that it holds belong to the nations and the peoples who preserve their self-control and the orderly processes of their Governments; the future to those who prove themselves the true friends of mankind.”

In the mid 20th century America had never before faced a more evil enemy than the one that plunged the whole world into war. But President Franklin Delano Roosevelt never wavered in his defense of this nation. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

And with the world on the brink of nuclear terror during the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy kept America safe and free without subverting America’s values. JFK knew a lot about winning a war without losing the peace. He said: “When at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us…our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions-were we truly men of courage ... men of judgment ...men of integrity ... were we truly men of dedication?"

Presidents Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy knew a thing or two about freedom and liberty. And they knew a lot about America. We are the land of the free, and not the home of the afraid.

But the President of Foreign Policy would have it otherwise. His demand for Black ops is a black eye for this nation. American history, not the unelected President of Foreign Policy, should be our guide. Great American Presidents have led this nation in times no less frightening than today. Ask a veteran of World War 2 what was at stake then. They called it a World War for a reason. We did not shrink from our duty, nor did we forget that America is the last best hope on earth.

We kept America free without losing America’s moral integrity.

The unelected President of Foreign Policy wants an exemption on an amendment that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. We’ve come a long way from the days of great Presidents to arrive at the day of the unelected President. He acts not in the shadow of the White House, but standing in front of the person elected President.

We use to shine light into the darkness of regimes where people disappeared into secret prisons. Now the unelected President of Foreign Policy would have us become one.

For a long time people have wondered just how President George W. Bush could get it so wrong, so often. Now we know. He has help. America has a second President we never elected.