I’m a big believer that as a tax payer, I have the right to know how my money is being spent. Certainly some of those areas of expenditure can justifiably be kept secret on national security grounds, but this administration has acted with a disregard for the fact that, to paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt, the president and vice president are simply the highest of public servants. As public servants, they are supposed to work for me.
In the New York Sun’s story on the Washington Post dropping a lawsuit to require the White House to turn over the log showing the visitors to Vice President Dick Cheney (the vice president obviously wants to coverup his meetings with lobbyists who helped draft national policy to help the rich get richer and keep the rest of us poorer, a topic worthy of its own post at another time) is this:
A spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney, Lea Anne McBride, told The New York Sun that the government did not veer from its position that releasing the logs would violate the Constitution by interfering with the vice president’s ability to seek candid advice. “That has not changed,” she said yesterday.
“Disclosure of the records at issue could reveal an ever-expanding mosaic that would allow observers to chart the course of Vice Presidential contacts and deliberations in unprecedented fashion,” government attorneys wrote during the legal maneuvering last fall. “Such an unwarranted intrusion into the most sensitive deliberations of the Vice Presidency cannot be countenanced.”
Cannot be countenanced? Who died and made him king?
There is a side of Republicanism (actually many sides, but I’ll focus on just this one), that I’ve never understood as an American: their willingness to elevate President Bush and Vice President Cheney to a similar status once held by monarchs. When Bush and Cheney operate outside of the law (even committing a traitorous act by revealing a covert agent’s name for political reasons in violation of national security laws). As an American, I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I am the equal of every other man and woman in this nation and the world. I bow to no one unless I wish as a matter of courtesy. I’ve always taken a bit of jingoistic pride that in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games that the United States flag is not lowered briefly as all other flags are when passing in review before the leader of the host nation. And with the regard that other nations once held for the United States’ role in the world, I always had the sense that other nations did not mind this bit of symbolic U.S. exclusionism.
But the tone and deeds of this administration isn’t that of public servants. It isn’t that of equals among other equals.
It is that of monarchs.
Our American ancestors fought to throw off the yokes of monarchies, to not be bound by the blind whims of willful kings.
Yet time and again, we see from conservative commentators and politicians like Bill Kristol and John McCain tell us that we should yield to such whims, that it is not the place of the people or our elected representatives to even question the administration.
I am an American. I was endowed by my Creator with certain inalienable rights. I am their equal. And as public servants, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney work for me. I demand the release of public records — my records to show what they have done while working for me.
If they must keep such meetings secret, it can only mean they must be afraid of revealing their work to me and the other American people who are their bosses.
But King George and King Dick have placed crowns on their heads when their heads should be bowed in shame.
Note, as I wrote this and searched for links to go with this post, I discovered another West Virginia blogger, Christy Hardin Smith, has had similar thoughts. I love when I’m on the same wave-length as someone whose work I so admire.
Update: Chalmers Johnson writes in a similar vein from a global perspective.