Who can say, without mental reservation, that George W. Bush was only interested in eavesdropping on al Qaeda's conversations with their sleeper cells in Wyoming and Alaska, those hotbeds of terrorism where Homeland Security has been lavishing taxpayer money? Or could it be that our President, whose entire political career has been propelled by what is known euphemistically in the trade as "opposition research", was also listening in on the private conversations of his political opponents in the United States?
With a history of mining data for dirt going back to his days interning with Karl Rove, studying under the master Lee Atwater, Bush learned how to slime his dad's opponent by claiming the hapless Dukakis had emptied the jails to set black rapists loose on white suburbia. Later, scooping up sleaze to get elected, Bush dredged dirt that alleged Governor Ann Richards was a lesbian, followed by John McCain fathering black babies all over South Carolina and John Kerry busily inflicting flesh wounds on himself to win purple hearts.
Although Rupert Murdoch, Katherine Harris and the Supreme Court delivered the Presidency to Bush in 2000, the groundwork for that "victory" actually managed to debase an already ugly profession, mutating opposition research from simply uncovering inconvenient facts into inventing and spreading scurrilous fictions. After losing at the ballot box, manufactured scandal became their only strategy to bring down the interloper from Arkansas who'd beaten Bush's dad. With the help of a bilious billionaire, trumped-up trailer-trash crocodile tears and a stained dress, the Bush dynasty was restored to it's rightful place by criminalizing a private consensual act and blowing it up into a Presidential impeachment. Enter the man selected to set a new moral tone in the White House, who rode in on a wave of editorial outrage from newspapers across the land calling for Clinton to resign or be impeached.
Now that there is clear evidence that this sitting President broke the law by circumventing the FISA court to spying on American citizens, are these same newspapers even mentioning the "I" word today? Last week, before the hammer dropped on Tom DeLay's job, while his best friends and former employees were busy copping pleas and ratting on each other, DeLay was hanging out on the Texas border with Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security. At the same time, one of President Bush's best-informed and most knowledgeable critics is held up at domestic airports because he shows up as a terrorist on the Homeland Security watch list, grounded until proven innocent. Is Jim Moore, author and journalist, a terrorist or a domestic enemy of George W. Bush? Is he related to Walid Bin Moore, an al Qaeda terrorist from Texas, or another Bush enemy who was also on the watch list, Senator Mohammed Kennedy?
Could the President be using the vast eavesdropping and data mining resources of the NSA to do a little opposition research on the side? Wasn't John Bolton's confirmation held up because the White House wouldn't release the target list of seven NSA intercepts Bolton had ordered at the behest of Dick Cheney to find out who Colin Powell was talking to? If an Administration spies on its own cabinet members would it be such a stretch to imagine they might use secret new technology to spy on their unwitting enemies who are indulging in treasonous and subversive acts like speaking out as a Democratic opposition in the face of ruinous domestic corruption and misgovernance and catastrophic foreign policy misadventure?
While his public face is sanctimonious, privately Bush manages to assassinate without leaving fingerprints, reminding me of what scandal-plagued Oscar Wilde once wrote from prison: "the strong man does it with a sword, the coward with a kiss." We are all prisoners of paranoia, manipulated by the fear-mongers in power, but that doesn't give them the right to invade our privacy and trample on our papers and person. Sure there are bad guys out there we should know about, but we're supposed to be the good guys. At the risk of offending Mrs. Starr, do you want Ken Starr in your bedroom? Meanwhile do we have to wait for somebody to perform oral sex on George W. Bush to stop him from breaking any more laws with impunity?