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Frost/Nixon-The First Salvo

December 8, 2008

President Bush hasn't left the White House yet (although liberals mightily wish he had) and already the legacy-makers are hard at it. Don't think for one minute that Ron Howard's latest film, Frost/Nixon, is simply being made to resurrect Nixon the crook yet again to a new generation. There's an obvious ulterior motive for the Obama-supporting Howard coming out with this film at this time.

It's hard to rail against a guy like Ron Howard. He was Opie Taylor, after all, and then the all-American boy Richie Cunningham. He moved smoothly from child and young adult actor into movie direction and has directed some popular films, although in recent years they have had more of an edge, as if Howard was trying to drive a stake into his Richie persona. Howard even admitted voting for Nixon in 1972 in an interview but then claims that what Nixon did pales in comparison to Bush-Cheney. My question to Ron is, why? Isn't this opinion long on emotion and very short on factual evidence?

If President Bush indeed did trample on Americans' Constitutional rights as the Left is so fond of claiming, I'd like to see some genuine proof. If such proof could be produced, then it seems like impeachment would have been favored not only by the House of Representatives but also by the public. Yet except for a few on the lunatic fringe of the House like the hapless Dennis Kucinich, there was never any general hue and cry for Bush's impeachment. Therefore the smoking gun which was so gleefully found on Nixon's watch simply was not there this time.

Yet Howard and those who believe like him are figuratively rubbing their hands together in anticipation of a 21st century David Frost corralling George W. Bush into a revelatory interview for the ages. An interview where all those ugly skeletons that Bush supposedly hid so skillfully while in office will tumble out of his closet.

Unfortunately, such an interview may in fact take place some time in the next year or two. Republicans, especially gentlemanly types like Bush, just can't seem to resist such invitations, drawn to the inevitable cutting treatment as a moth is to a porch light or Charlie Brown is to Lucy's football. And no matter that everyone should know what questions are coming; the by-then ex-president may still botch some answers and give what appears to be a mea culpa that the media will take out of context, unless he comes with a steely determination not to let them get away with it. That, however, would be a sharp departure from his modus operandi as president.

The four main areas that we can confidently predict will be examined as part of the so-called anti-Constitution legacy of the Bush Administration are:

  1. The war in Iraq. Bush will undoubtedly be grilled about his "flimsy" justification for taking us to war against the Saddam Hussein regime. A typical question might be, "If you knew as you should have that Saddam had virtually no weapons of mass destruction by early 2003, would you still have invaded?" Of course, the fact that caches of dangerous weapons or weapons materials were discovered well after the initial searches disclosed nothing, will be airily dismissed unless Bush presses hard with the factual evidence.
  2. The case for the detention center at Guantanamo. Although even the incoming Obama Administration may be backing off its stated intent to close this facility and try the occupants in the U.S., Bush will probably be grilled about keeping these "detainees" without a so-called reasonable cause. Never mind that the fact that no one else wants them is pretty good evidence that these bozos are dangerous. They are also foreigners who have no protection under the U.S. Constitution; how liberals can claim otherwise is beyond me.
  3. As a corollary to #2, the claim that the practice of "water-boarding" is a form of torture that the U.S. should not be using on the detainees. If asked, Bush needs to make a forceful case that (1) water-boarding is not torture as backed up by noted experts on the subject (too bad John McCain who, having been a victim of real torture should know better, isn't one of them), and (2) water-boarding was effective in getting key information out of these would-be terrorists about their friends' planned operations that otherwise may never have been provided.
  4. The use of warrantless wiretapping to eavesdrop on the conversations of suspected terrorists. This may be the sorest point for those on both the left and right concerned about Bill of Rights protections. Yet this may be more a matter of poor public relations on the part of the Bush Administration than a deliberate attempt to get into average Americans' private business. Since (1) it's a pretty safe bet there are terrorists and terrorist sympathizers in the U.S., some of them U.S. citizens, and (2) these people use American communications services and equipment, it follows that the only way the government can do all it can to ensure our safety is to impose some draconian surveillance measures. My take on it is that if one has nothing to hide, then what's the big deal? Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way, and Bush "misunderestimated" the level of concern that his program generated from the public.

As we reflect on the 67th anniversary of the dastardly attacks on Pearl Harbor, we need to remember that the government took measures then, such as the detention of many Japanese-Americans, that were looked upon unfavorably by some but were thought by our leaders to be in the national interest. President Bush, by his nature, was not looking for any premise that he could use to consolidate his power. He did what he did because he felt it was necessary and in the national interest.

The bottom-line question of a truly objective interview should be, "Did 1 through 4 above promote our national security objectives and keep us safer in the years since the 9/11 attacks?" Should that question arise, George W. Bush should be supremely confident in his ability to answer affirmatively.

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