Saturday, October 15, 2005

Not even midway through W’s second term and already I’ve got hypocrisy fatigue. I had to roll my eyes when Bush’s lackeys were caught red-handed last week coaching soldiers for another of the Pretender-in-Cheat’s propaganda pieces pushing his $200 billion war in Iraq. The soldiers were instructed to fawn over the would-be Emperor, while their superiors, just off-stage, were ordered to thump ‘em if they didn’t stroke him with enough ardor. Remember the unholy stink the administration raised over the soldier who questioned Donald Rumsfeld about the shortage of body armor? How it turned out he’d been coached by a journalist? Well, touché.

So the press made a big to-do about Bush’s phony conference call last week. But come on: is there anyone who doesn’t know that all of Bush’s public appearances are staged, except maybe Mr. Bush himself, who sometimes reminds me of a complacent version of Jim Carrey’s clueless Truman Burbank? The rest of us are merely extras in “The W Show.” To express shock at the phoniness of it all seems just a tad disingenuous at this point. In fact, it borders on doublethink. The vain hope of those who point to proof of hypocrisy in these faith-based times, when proof is a mere annoyance to be brushed away by some invisible hand, is that sensible people will start scratching their heads and replace the megachurch mantra “WWJD” with the more fitting “WTF?”

Bush’s hypocrisy when it comes to Harriet Miers, his latest Supreme Court nominee (and maybe not his last—Justice Stevens is pushing ninety) has been well-publicized, too. While a nominee, the topic of newly appointed Chief Justice John Roberts’ faith was off-limits, according to Republicans. When, during confirmation hearings, Sen. Richard Durbin, a Democrat, asked Roberts how his Roman Catholic faith might affect his court rulings, he was upbraided by Republican John Cornyn, who reminded him, “we have no religious tests for public office in this country.” It seems Ms. Miers is the exception to Article VI, Clause 3 of the US Constitution. To hear Bush tell it, Miers’ religion is about her only qualification. But the post she’s up for is not High Priestess of the Cult of Reverend Dobson, it’s Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. of A. I mean, WTF?

Rest assured, there’s more hypocrisy on the way. When Democrats bring up Miers’ religion in what’s sure to be a spectacle of brazen stupidity to rival the Clarence Thomas confirmation, they’ll be accused by Republicans of both politicizing deeply held religious beliefs and violating article VI, clause 3. Shame on them! The danger of this kind of theater is that sooner or later not only the stale lines of the administration but their critics’ chorus of outrage and indignation ring utterly false. That the antics of Bush’s brat pack brings some satisfaction to its critics is understandable, but until they pursue the truth as doggedly as they do their opponent, all we’ve got is “WTF?”

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