Friday, June 30, 2006

He's not leaving

Author's note: This piece was published on Buzzflash as He's Not Leaving on June 30, 2006

by Rich Miles

This idea has been rattling around in my brain for a while now, but as we approach November's elections, it starts to look less and less insane, as much as we might wish it to be. In fact, an editorial on Buzzflash recently called Darkness at Noon for Democracy has made it look a little more likely, rather than less. Here's my prognostication:

Bush is not going to relinquish the office of the presidency on January 20, 2009.

No, seriously - don't write off the idea quite yet. Think about what it would take for him to stay on beyond his constitutionally-mandated term of office:

Method One: A Third Term

1) There would have to be a constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd amendment limiting presidents to two terms - difficult, but not impossible. We did it with the 21st amendment, which repealed Prohibition. From congressional passage to state ratifications to law of the land was a scant 9 months. Of course, that involved booze, which is much more important to most people than who is in the White House - but still, it can happen.

2) Then, there would have to be a major turnaround in Bush's popularity that would allow him to be elected to a third term by another 50.7% margin or so (never mind the arguments about how he was not really elected to the first term - that's for another rant.)

3) And all of this would have to happen between November 2006 (no way in Hell it even gets mentioned before the midterms) and July 2008, to allow at least the appearance of freely selecting Bush as the nominee again, and a convention, and a small semblance of a campaign.

In other words, in political terms all this would have to happen at the speed of light - again, not impossible, but really really difficult on so many levels, not least of them that more and more people genuinely hate the sumbitch, making it harder for him to steal another election. Or there's...

Method Two: Martial Law

1) Along about, oh I don't know, September or October of 2008, there will be another 9/11-style attack on American soil, or perhaps a genuine act of war against us by another recognizable state - North Korea perhaps, though there are numerous other candidates. As in 2001, we will retreat into fear and give away the constitutional farm, as long as Bush will promise not to let the boogeymen get us

2) As a result of this event, Bush will suspend the Constitution, dissolve Congress, declare martial law, suspend the '08 elections, reassert himself as Commander in Chief, and claim that he does not have to give up the presidency because, hey, the Constitution is what says he has to, and that's suspended. He'll do all this in the name of "national security", and we'll let him get away with it for at least a little while because despite our national penchant for bloodlust and sabre-rattling, we are at heart a bunch of pussies who will, in times of national crisis, follow anything that moves, as long as it promises not to hurt us.

Freedom of the press? Gone. Freedom of assembly? Pffft. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness? Out the effin' window. Suspending the Constitution also conveniently makes him unimpeachable, a not-inconsiderable side benefit

3) And so, America will be plunged into a level of crisis nationally and internationally that will make the Civil War look like a church picnic.

Now look - never mind how unlikely all this is. Never mind how unlikely it would be to be successful if things did go down this way. Even as I write this, I know how conspiracy-freakish it sounds. But can you say with certainty that what I describe here CAN'T happen? Can you look back at the past five-plus years, at all the laws that have been broken or simply ignored by this administration, and say no way? I can't.

At the very least, I'd like to believe that some combination of the armed forces and American patriots would thwart such a clearly criminal enterprise at the top of our government.

But do we really want the military to bail our sorry asses out in this way? They already know they have the manpower and the weapons to take over the government, but do we want to ask them to do so? How do you get that genie back in the bottle?

But consider the consequences for Bush, Cheney, et al. if they leave office quietly, like every other president has done: if a Democrat is elected (more and more likely), every single document, everything the Bushies have done, is going to see the light of day. Classified documents - suddenly available to the public. False justifications for war - clearly on the table. Circumventions of the law - no longer deniable or spinnable. And criminal charges? Not out of the question, even after they've left government. And most of this can happen even if the next president is a Republican - what better way to seal the deal on your re-election than to show you're more honest than the last guy, even if it's a member of your own party you have to hang out to dry?

No, they can't leave in January of '09. (See my post titled Time To Set a Precedent - 2/27/06 for more reasons why.) This stuff is not going away just because they leave office, and they know it. Even a country-club prison is still a prison.

And if you think I'm the only person this idea has ever occurred to, that I'm just a loose cannon of a conspiracy nut and this kind of thing can't happen in America - and if you don't think that the other people who are thinking about this topic are in the White House and environs - then I have some land in Florida I'd like to sell you. That is, if Gov. Bush doesn't already own it.