The Messenger Takes a Beating

Don't blame the Times. Save some anger for the government that's spying on us.

History gives us evidence of more responsible presidencies. From 1945 to 1952, Harry Truman, a World War I combat veteran, was in the Oval Of fice. The nation, still recovering from World War II, suddenly found itself at war with North Korea. Truman tightened controls on military intelligence and other security matters, but he never raised secrecy to its current level nor did he appropriate to himself—as this president has—powers that the Constitution and national tradition have conferred instead upon Congress and the courts.

To understand what this White House is about, one has to accept that the path George W. Bush has chosen isn't really about secrecy. And it isn't about an unruly or "left-wing" press. It's about power, presidential power. This president would like to establish a permanent rulership by his particular imperialist wing of the Republican Party. Even his father, George H.W. Bush, doesn't endorse his global overreaching. He thought his son's Iraq war was foolhardy and reckless. The father and son apparently don't confer anymore on policy matters.

The son says he now consults a "higher father." He has brought religion full-force into the White House and mixed it with an imperial ideology. Describing this volatile soup, Bill Moyers, a man of religion, recently observed that while it may not make you wrong, it will surely make you "blind." And it cannot work as a template for a democracy, for in order to implement such a doctrine, the leader has to try, in effect, to make the public blind as well.

Bush is too good a listener, as it turns out
photo: Department of Defense
Bush is too good a listener, as it turns out

The religion of the press, contrarily, must be to give the public sight—and insight. And that is why this White House has declared war on the press.

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