Due to the short week created by Thanksgiving, I’m sending out next week’s column early.

Trim Bush from American History

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column that resonated with a lot of people.

Since 2001, I noted, “We’ve lost our right to see an attorney, to confront our accusers, even to get a fair trial. Government agents have kidnapped thousands of people, most of whom have never been heard from again. Bush even signed an edict claiming the right to assassinate anyone, including you and me, based solely on his whims. Torture, the ultimate sign that civilized society has been replaced by a police state,” has been legalized.

None of the major presidential candidates are currently promising to do what it would take to restore democracy: close Gitmo and the CIA torture chambers, get out of Afghanistan and Iraq, revoke the protofascist USA-Patriot and Military Commissions Acts, obey the Geneva Conventions and turn over Bush, his torturers, his Congressional allies and his top civilian and military officials to an international war crimes tribunal for their role in the murders of more than one million Afghans and Iraqis.

The politicians are too timid to do what’s right. But we can bully them into it. Let’s begin America’s long slog toward moral and political redemption by demanding that our next president’s first act be to declare the Bush Administration null and void. Every law and act carried out between 12 noon on January 20, 2001 and January 20, 2009 should just…go…poof.

My readers are cranky, distrustful and smart. (You can read their comments at Rallblog readers are all over the place politically: old-school Democrats, Goldwater Republicans, libertarians, socialists, anarchists, even neoconservatives. But they’re speaking out as one about my call to expunge the legacy of the Bush Administration: Yes. Yes. Hell, yes!

Let’s make it happen!

Now is the time. Write (an actual letter, not email) to your favorite presidential candidate and declare that you are a single-issue voter. Swear that, if he or she agrees to sign the following Pledge, your vote is assured. If not, promise to stay home or vote for someone else.

Pledge for American Renewal

“I, ______________, hereby solemnly pledge that my first act upon assuming the office of President shall be to sign an American Renewal Act of 2009, which shall declare all laws, regulations, executive orders, treaties and actions undertaken by the federal government during the illegitimate and unlawful administration of George W. Bush to be null, void and without effect.”

Sound crazy? So did Thomas Paine in 1775. As a practical and legal matter, however, consigning Bush to the dung heap of history makes more sense than revolting against the British.

First, the law.

George W. Bush’s January 20, 2001 inauguration was unconstitutional. This isn’t because Bush lost the popular vote. Nor is it because he lost Florida and thus the electoral vote. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear the Florida recount lawsuit, Bush v. Gore, violated the U.S. Constitution. It’s a states’ rights issue. Elections fall under state law; the highest court that may resolve a legal challenge about an election is a state supreme court. The U.S. Supreme Court–a federal body–didn’t have jurisdiction in the case.

An American Renewal Act is merely a confirmation of two centuries of standard practice.

There are precedents. After France was liberated in 1944, incoming president Charles de Gaulle declared the collaborationist government of Marshall Henri-Philippe Pétain null and void. (It was a stretch. Unlike Bush, who carried out a judicial coup, Pétain came to power legally.) In any case, Pétain vanished from textbooks. Numerous laws passed between 1940 and 1944, dealing with matters like taxes and construction projects, had to be debated and passed all over again.

The Southern secession of 1860 was perfectly legal, yet laws and currency issued by the Confederate government in the South were invalidated by the victorious Union in 1865.

The main argument for erasing Bush and his nefarious deeds is a legal one: official acknowledgement that the 2000 election was stolen gets the U.S. back on the path to democracy. (Should Al Gore should be allowed to serve the term he won in 2000? I don’t know.)

There’s also an ethical principle at stake. As de Gaulle said about Pétain’s partnership with the Nazis, the Bush Administration so disgraced itself and our nation that we have to renounce it in order to restore our moral authority, to be able to face citizens of other, less despicable, countries in the eye.
Another argument is based on power. Imagine that Gore had seized power in 2000 instead. Now imagine that he had turned as rabid as Bush, that he had ruled as far to the left as Bush has to the right. Businesses would have been nationalized. Healthcare would have been socialized; doctors would be federal employees. Taxes on the rich would have soared while the poor got off scot-free. Republican protesters at the Democratic National Convention would have gotten beaten up and thrown into filthy internment facilities for days on end. Crazy Gore would have apologized for foreign policies that provoked the 9/11 attacks. To prove he meant it, he would have sent troops to overthrow the world’s most heinous dictators, all U.S. allies, in Uzbekistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Now imagine that, over the years, Gore’s policies had ruined the economy and mired the military in endless, losing wars. That people had turned again him to the same degree that they’ve rejected Bush. As Frank Rich writes in The New York Times, only 24 percent of Americans approve of the Bush Administration–almost as bad as the image of the U.S. in Pakistan.

You can bet that the Republicans, after they took back power, would carry out the mother of all rollbacks. Gore, the rogue president, would probably wind up in prison. There’s no reason to treat Bush and his policies any more gently.

“We are a people in clinical depression,” writes Rich. “Americans know that the ideals that once set our nation apart from the world have been vandalized, and no matter which party they belong to, they do not see a restoration anytime soon.” Anyone who reads Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA” knows the U.S. was damned far from perfect before Bush came along. But Rich’s broader point is correct. Falling short of lofty ideals is better than forgetting about them.

Demand that the major presidential candidates sign the Pledge for American Renewal. We know the woman and half-dozen men who are leading in the polls want to rule us. But will they lead?


19 Responses to “”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Sure they’ll lead. But where? Not one has suggested a sweeping change in foriegn policy. None have yet vowed to rein in the military. None have promised to correct the environmentel issues,or to force auto manufactures to make fuel effecient cars.

  2. James Says:

    Here’s a slightly different idea on what to do with George W. Bush. Force him to remain on the job for another term. If Bush balks, put him in leg irons and keep him like a dog in the White House, but treat him LIKE a dog. Make him eat out of a bowl on the floor, shit on newspaper, and arrest, detain and rendition him every so often. Waterboard Bush. Send out the other dogs to apprehend, arrest, detain and rendition Karl Rove, the Adolph Eichmann of the USA. Don’t allow any of the Bush cohort to escape and disappear into corporate America. Make the fuckers WORK at hard labor. Keep them public. Cheney needs to be kept in a stock in front of the White House. Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh should be made to wash the balls of Bush, Cheney and Rove every day, and let’s have those images on You Tube daily. Nothing but the BEST for the past, present and future crop of Nazis in the Bush misadministration.

  3. angelo Says:

    “I do believe that if the death penalty is administered swiftly, justly and fairly, it saves lives.”

    “I also keep in mind the victims, and the reason I support the death penalty is because it saves lives. That’s why I support it”


  4. John Madziarczyk Says:

    Yay! Good column. I like the scenario where Gore goes far to the left, although the seizing power and beating up protesters part…

    Nice, clear.

    Give me about half an hour and I can come up with a list of strategic businesses that should be nationalized, but that’s for the conversation on the docks, as Bill Hicks used to say in his act.

    The Pakistan article was really good too.

  5. Joseph Says:

    As hot as watching Limbaugh wash Cheney’s balls would be, I think what James suggests would be bad for the rule of law in this country. The Bush gang should be duly charged in a court of law with crimes against humanity. And it will then be up to the president elect to let the executions go forward or stay them so the nation can “heal”.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Executions aren’t enough, what they did is far worse. I Prefer they do a lifetime of hard labor, seizure of all property and assets, and public humiliation instead, minus the ball-washing stuff of course.

  7. heatkernel Says:

    Well, Ted, I’m sure Mike Gravel would sign your pledge. Heck, he could have written it: he’s already said in effect that he repudiates every aspect of the Bush admin. But look where that and his outspoken attacks on Hillary’s warmongering got him–kicked out of the remaining Democratic debates! Quite the opposite from repudiating Bush, Hillary is actually taking advice from the Bush administration on foreign policy–openly and without shame. She’s apprently the choice of the Dem Party heirarchy–and that should tell you something about that gang of crooks.

  8. Joe Schmoe Says:

    Ted, you are a smart guy and usually right on target, but sometimes I worry about your mental health.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Does anyone remember the quieter gentler America that were burning Dixie Chicks cds just because they said they were embarrassed to be from the same state as George W. Bush?How did we finally shake off the “America First,Right or Wrong!” fog to get to a place where we actually expect candidates(aka career politicians) to say in the media that the present administration makes Stalin look like a pussy? I am all for it.Believe me, I was the only soul in Texas willing to beat my friends over the head with a brick just for voting for Bush during the Governor campaign,much less as so called leader of the free world.I just think we have come to a very low valley in public apathy when we once were willing to almost impeach a president for loose zipper syndrome,and now we would rather come up with impossible justice dream scenarios rather then trully prosecute an entire presidency that has destroyed our crediblity and our future worldwide.

  10. Dave Says:

    Nice Column Ted, and I hope you had a happy thanksgiving. I think you and I both know nothing of the sort here will happen because this country won’t ever right itself.

    America will suffer it’s German Solution….eventually. Our government is too broken on a fundamental level to even implement such things. When Congress debates in a serious manner whether or not it can legally or practically stop Bush from attacking Iran, we have a serious problem.

    This politicization reaches deep within each agency of the federal government, and it was deliberate.

    Breaking the government was intentional, it’s what we get for allowing leaders who say that government is the problem to be elected.

    It’s like hiring the farmer who killed the goose that laid to golden egg to be president of United Egg Producers.

    The proof? The fact that all but two (maybe 3) of the Republican nominees should be disqualified for advocating a violation of the law in their debates.

    We can’t talk about using the government as a force for good until it’s repaired, and we can’t repair it until we can appoint people who desire to do so, which isn’t really possible.

    In sum…we’re screwed, the country needs to collectively recognize how we got to this point, and make sure the mentality of person who got us to this point is banned from government permanently.

    We’re screwed, Ted, enjoy the leftover Turkey

  11. angelo Says:

    “In sum…we’re screwed, the country needs to collectively recognize how we got to this point, and make sure the mentality of person who got us to this point is banned from government permanently.”

    you were onto something with the “we’re screwed” part. You lost me on the part where you said “the country needs to collectively recognize…”.

    American’s hate voting and learning. They deserve, and would be better off with monarchy or dictatorship. I’d be okay with a dictator at this point. I think this country could handle it. whatever.

  12. gypc_dave Says:

    I feel obligated to point out that, while Presidents can veto bills rather than sign them, they can’t “repudiate” laws on the books. It takes Congress to repeal a law, and quite frankly, I don’t see that happening. Most of these weasels supported Dubya right up until it became clear that the majority of the American people were against him. And I don’t see us replacing all of them. While it would certainly be wonderful to see “Speaker Kucinich” clean up the current mess, it’s about as likely as as hail in Hell.

    I’m all in favor of the rest, especially the part about sending El Busho to a war crimes tribunal. We don’t need another American Revolution, as long as the American people have the cojones to punish the tyrant according to national and international laws.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Just don’t get tased on the way out, bro…

  14. Rolland Says:

    I think Ron Paul has already pledged to dismantle the Military Commission and Patriot Acts, ending the Iraq occupation, and not to attack Iran. He is probably the only GOP candidate that can beat Clinton in the general election (assuming the Dems are stupid enough to nominate her). Though I agree with the spirit and idea behind your pledge drive, you (should) know, and I know that a President does not have the power to void all actions taken by the federal government without at least some cooperation by Congress. I think you would be better served by putting the power of your pen to promote someone that might actually repair some of the damage done by the Bush administration. Excluding 3rd party candidates–which is where my vote will be going if one of the following are not nominated–Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, and Dennis Kucinich are the only candidates that will undo Bush if elected.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Ann Coulter was right liberalism is a psychological disorder.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I love Bush. He is so perfect. He’s actively keeping America safe from radicall Muslims and from people like you, who should be executed for treason. Go live in France, at least there you can enjoy yourself before you realize how much it sucks. I hope they find you and try you for treason, Ted Rall.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Chris Dodd is the one to vote for. He has pubicly recognized Bush’s war crimes.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Rall stated: “Rallblog readers are all over the place politically… even neoconservatives. But they’re speaking out as one about my call to expunge the legacy of the Bush Administration.”

    OK, I’ve looked, and I don’t see a single neoconservative here calling for the next president to “expunge the legacy of the Bush Administration”. In fact, the only person posting here who made an intelligent point was gypc_dave – and the point is that a president cannot unilaterally remove laws from the books (duh!).

    That’s called a “dictatorship”, Mr. Rall, and I’m personally opposed.

    (And the claim that Gore “won” the 2000 election despite innumerable post-election recounts smacks of *very* sour grapes. Claiming Gore won because of “states rights” issues almost made me spew my Jolt over my keyboard. You’re too funny, dude!)

  19. Angelo Says:

    anon 7:04,

    When Ted goes through the trouble of covering every possible misinterpretation of his words, and the result is a book, will all of you trolls buy it?

    If there is a Neocon who does not agree that 99% of Bush’s legacy is shit, then how can we possibly believe that they even have they have the mental fortitude to know whether or not they are Neocons?
    Anyways, just ’cause someone thinks we should take over the world, does not automatically make them love everything Bush does. Bush offends everyone, even his reformed neocon dad.

    You and Dave do correctly point out that it takes a dictator bypass congress. Your point is proven by dictator Bush’s last 7 years. But The American renewal Act is a bill the president would “sign”. Where did Ted say the pres would act unilaterally?

    forget what Bush or Gore wanted to count and count all of the votes, like they even do in third world countries. You will find that Gore won.

    You probably will not read this, and if you do you will not respond because, as we all know, you are just a troll. We are both wasting our time. Which brings us to the moderator. Why?! Why do you allow trolls, with no interest in the truth, to post here. Their irrelevant nitpicking is not for the purpose of meaningful discussion. Their sole purpose is to waste our time by asking us to explain the same shit over and over.

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