There’s been a lot of discussion lately in the mainstream media about how George W. Bush is a very loyal fellow, how he insists on loyalty from everyone in his inner circle, and how he becomes very tight-lipped whenever he is asked to explain the misdeeds of his staff or corporate benefactors.
This begs the question: What type of person places such a high premium on loyalty, keeps quiet about the truth when it threatens his organization, and places profits above ethical considerations? If you haven’t already figured out the answer, perhaps you should review the film Goodfellas and pay particular attention to the scene where Jimmy Conway explains the essence of the mafia’s existential code of ethics to the young Henry Hill: “Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut!”
Although I doubt that President Bush understands the fine points of existential philosophy, he is nonetheless following the code of omerta as religiously as any member in good standing of organized crime. Which is very odd, when you think about it, since he is professes to be a born-again Christian and not a button man for la cosa nostra. But perhaps this is less a paradox than it seems. After all, have you ever heard any high profile born-again Christians— like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson– lambaste corporate America for exploiting the poor or soaking the middle class? Have you ever heard any of them vilify CEOs like Ken Lay for bilking their employees out of their life savings? Somehow, the born-again crowd only believes it’s a sin if it has to do with personal issues, like abortion or homosexuality. If money is involved, especially corporate money, they suddenly make like a statue.
This is hypocrisy pure and simple. But unlike Michael Corleone, who admits his own hypocrisy to the crooked senator in The Godfather II, old Georgie Boy knows how to keep his mouth shut. Ironically, he still lives the fantasy (whether he actually believes it or not) that he is a good, God-fearing Christian. Sadly, many Americans still believe him (although the number is dwindling month by disastrous month). Worse, some Democrats are still enabling this fantasy by proclaiming that Bush is either too dumb or too detached to know about the lies and misdeeds in his own administration. If you remember, this was the same thing they said about Ronald Reagan during his two terms in office when one after another of his subordinates cleaned up his mess and took the fall for him; what Donald Regan referred to as “the shovel patrol.”
Therefore, for Democrats to call for Rumsfeld’s resignation because he “didn’t inform the president about Abu Graibe,” or to blame Cheney for manipulating Bush for his own diabolical purposes, is disingenuous. It lets Bush off the hook, and it feeds the fantasy that he is basically a nice guy who is being used and exploited by the capos in his gang.
The reality is, Bush has been evading responsibility for criminal behavior his entire adult life- from his drunk driving, coke snorting crimes and misdemeanors as a young man, to his business scams with the Texas Rangers and Harken Energy, to his disgraceful fix of the last presidential election and his financial alliance with the bin Laden family. And, as documented in the numerous books and articles detailing the long, sordid history of the “Bush Crime Family” (see links below this story), Georgie Boy’s old man and grandfather– as well as his brothers– are also no strangers to illegal and unethical behavior. As a result, it has never been a stretch for him to lie or keep his mouth shut when confronted with the truth, even as president. In fact, after all these years, it has become second nature for him to cover his tracks and “not admit his mistakes,” just as it is for any mafia boss. Granted, he is not the sharpest stiletto in his gang of chicken hawks and free market racketeers; Consigliore Cheney wins that honor. But he is smart enough to know how the system works and how to use it to enrich his family, friends, and amici de amici.
If you follow this logic, it is no surprise why we have a $500 billion deficit, why environmental standards have been gutted, why the price of oil has sky rocketed, and why we got into a war in Iraq in the first place (and won’t get out of any time soon). It all stems from the same premise. A crime family don must take care of his patrons and allow them to wet their beaks; he must reward them with their share of the loot, their piece of the action; in Bush’s case, this means giving huge tax breaks to the rich, lucrative sweetheart deals to large corporations, and astronomical no-bid contracts to companies like Halliburton, even if it means screwing average citizens in the process or allowing American soldiers to die in an unnecessary war.
And what’s even more striking is that Bush doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he is showering his gumbas with obscene amounts of loot. Halliburton alone has already raked in billions in no-bid contracts in Iraq– and this is only the beginning! The longer the war drones on, the more the company will profit. Now, am I being cynical, or do you think the nice folks at Halliburton are putting a little pressure on Bush and Cheney to “stay the course” in Iraq? In fact, why do you think Halliburton hired Cheney in the first place and paid him 22 million big ones? That’s a lot of linguini to pay a political hack who had no previous experience as a CEO. Do you think the boys at Halliburton expected anything in return from him– especially after he became vice president?
Of course this is just business as usual in the game of crony capitalism, and greed has no boundaries among the made men (and women) in the Bush familia who pull the strings that make everyone else dance and play the fool. If our elected leaders had any balls (and were not were not involved in this game themselves), they would immediately appoint a new “Untouchables” squad to clean up the upper echelons of government and the corporate world the way Elliot Ness and his agents went after Al Capone. Instead we have play-by-the-rules guys like Rep. Henry Waxman and D.A. Eliot Spitzer attempting to do our Sisyphean dirty work. And although they have been doing an admirable job given the circumstances, they are severely hamstrung by the system and have no real authority to break down doors and bust heads. In other words, they need more muscle to deal with the likes of Bush, Cheney, and the corporate gangs that run our country the way Capone once ran Chicago.
Unfortunately, the members of Congress won’t give them the muscle they need, since many of our elected officials are in debt to the same corporate gangs that run the system, and they, too, must keep their mouths shut if they want to survive in politics and not get whacked. And so it goes. The only consolation to the American people is this: Like members of organized crime, corrupt government officials and corporate criminals will also turn on each other when they get shafted by their bosses or get caught red handed. And just as Henry Hill broke his code of silence and ratted out his fellow wise guys when the going got tough, the “badfellas” of the Bush administration will ultimately do the same thing. Paul O’Neil and Dick Clark are only the first ones to sing like canaries. Who will be next?
LINKS TO ABOVE STORY
The Bush Crime Family: Three Generations of Treason
The Story of the Bush Crime Family
Osama bin Laden’s Bush Family Business Connections
Halliburton, Dick Cheney, and War Time Spoils
Halliburton Scam Update
Dick Cheney Profile