The truly great, giddiness-inducing thing about the Justice Department scandal (still awaiting its moronically obligatory "gate"-suffixed title) is how it owes its existence to the gratuitous nastiness of these hate-driven punks in the White House.
Gonzales and Co. could have just said, "We're firing these people because we can," and that would have been that. Sure, Josh Marshall might still have been all over it, but he would have been just a dismissible left-wing blogger. And sure, John Conyers and Chuck Schumer might still have fulminated about it on C-SPAN, but most House and Senate Democrats are such wusses that nothing would have come of that, either. The White House would have been home free, with the story having vanished from the front pages weeks ago.
But NOOOOOOO! These spiteful sadists, who so revel in causing pain that they can't let a single opportunity pass untaken, had to impugn the fitness of the fired, thus forcing them to defend themselves by attacking their attackers and elevating their dismissals to, as George H.W. Bush was fond of putting it, a media "feeding frenzy." Their "performance" wasn't up to snuff! If there's any finger you would think these overweening incompetents wouldn't dare to point, it's that one, though nothing clouds judgment more thoroughly than a total lack of shame. (And speaking of shamelessness, one would think the hypocrisy of these serial election stealers complaining about insufficiently vigorous prosecution of voter fraud would be eagerly pointed out by hundreds of reporters and pundits. But NOOOOOOO!)
The tone is, of course, set at the top - or, to put it less loftily, the fish rots from the head. Just as Richard M. Nixon's innate deviousness defined and destroyed his presidency, so is George W. Bush's innate cruelty - and the complementary vindictiveness of Cheney, Gonzales and Rove - defining and destroying his. That haunted, desperate look on Bush's face Tuesday evening as he truculently announced his plans to hunker down and fight any subpoenas was the spitting image of his fellow Constitution-trasher Nixon's sweaty mug during the last months of his presidency. It has long been apparent that Bush learned no lessons from Viet Nam, so it's hardly surprising to see that he also learned nothing from Watergate.
In 1967, the Yale Daily News exposed the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity's penchant for branding pledges with red hot wire hangers. The New York Times picked up the story, which featured a former president of the frat, one George W. Bush, dismissing the resulting "insignificant" wound as "only a cigarette burn" that leaves "no scarring mark, physically or mentally." So, Bush's first quote in the national press was a defense of torture.
What's obvious to all but the willfully blind is that Bush truly enjoys hurting people. His every action is designed to inflict pain, from that loathsome habit of giving people nicknames - hey, media suck-ups, it's not cute, it's contemptuous, a bully-boy saying, "I think so little of you that I'm not gonna call you by your name, I'm gonna call you what I want to call you" - to the cavalier decimation of a nation. Bush's utter heartlessness is breathtaking, though no more so than the mainstream media's craven refusal to even acknowledge it, let alone to truly do its job and relentlessly point out every instance of his wanton malice.
All of my friends will attest that I consoled them after the 2004 "election" with the assurance that Bush would leave office the most despised "president" ever, a prediction that seems more prescient by the day. As even chunks of his base fall away and his poll numbers head south toward Antarctica, it becomes increasingly clear that this spoiled dry-drunk slacker has nothing inside him to draw upon when things get rough. And they're only going to get rougher.
Bush's reflexive display of pugnacious petulance Tuesday evening evoked the refrain from Grandmaster Flash's "The Message": "Don't push me / 'cause I'm close to the edge." It made me think about Bush, as I did about Nixon starting in late 1973, that his every public appearance from here on holds the potential for the kind of barking-mad meltdown that would lead his obituary.
And yes, I readily acknowledge that I would derive obscene amounts of pleasure from that. And yes, I acknowledge that this makes me something of a sadist as well. But then, it's George W. Bush's special gift to bring out the absolute worst in everybody.