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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The “Accountability Moment”

Every once in a while, George W. Bush says something so astonishing that you have to hope he doesn’t know what his words actually mean, which is always a possibility. In an interview with the Washington Post that was published today, he basically said the election results meant that nobody in his administration needed to worry about, or apparently, even talk about, the mistakes made in Iraq. Here’s the Post’s paraphrase of that portion of the interview, and the money quote from Bush:
“President Bush said the public’s decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.
“‘We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 elections,’ Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. ‘The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me.'”
An accountability moment. This is the guy, remember, who promised back in 2000 to usher in a “responsibility era” in American politics. And now it’s down to a minute. Takes your breath away.
Aside from the fact that Bush would have lost badly had the entire election been about his Iraq policies, this idea that an electoral win provides some sort of plenary indulgence for every mistake made in the past, present and future is really scary. Unless I missed something, the presidential election was a choice between two candidates, not some sort of referendum on whether to endow the incumbent with retroactive and prospective infallibility. For every president, every moment in office should be an “accountability moment” when it comes to the impact of administration policies and actions, especially when they are fraught with the kind of life and death consequences associated with a war.
We should all raise hell about this Bush statement until such time as he qualifies it or admits his mouth once again got a dangerous distance from his brain.
There’s more of interest in the Post interview, but I’ll save that for another post, because I have a feeling I’ll have to link back to this one in its one-note simplicity early and often.

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