Hardly had President Bush slunk out of Washington before his apologist Ross Baker, the Rutgers political scientist, defamed those seeking his prosecution as motivated by "revenge." They "should let their hate 'die away,'" Baker advised in his Jan. 27 USA Today article. Bush's critics are mere low types "possessed of a kind of legalistic blood lust that can be satisfied only by criminalizing conduct of which they do not approve."
Nowhere does Baker credit the Bush posse now forming up with seeking justice after the frightful firestorm of death and destruction Bush called down upon Iraq. No, as far as Baker is concerned, Americans should make "allowances for errors in judgment" by the lying imbecile that killed a million human beings, drove four million from their homes, killed four thousand of our sons and daughters and wounded thirty thousand more.
By accusing the posse of "hate," Baker is standing reality on its head. It was Bush that was filled with hatred. It was Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Co. that did the killing. They were the thugs dripping with "blood lust." They were the ones that ordered the torture of innocent human beings. What is it, if not hatred of the most despicable genre, to kidnap men off the streets with no warrant and imprison them half way around the world without charging them of any offense, not even for spitting on the sidewalk, and humiliate and torture them for years to the point of madness and suicide?
Baker's article gets worse. He prays that President Obama, "with his sense of decency and fair play will, in time, shame the haters" so the country can go forward to "deal with our daunting problems." Again, Baker wants to shame the posse for doing its job! Baker even rationalizes this by pointing to the lack of prosecution of President Kennedy, who ordered the assassination of Viet Nam's Ngo Dinh Diem, and of President Reagan's "illegally supplying arms to the anti-communists in Nicaragua." Well, maybe if those presidents had been tried for their crimes then George Bush might not have assumed he was free to plunder and torture at will today. Meanwhile, new criminal evidence keeps coming to light.
Baker says those seeking Bush's prosecution will be satisfied "only by criminalizing conduct of which they do not approve," as if the posse is making up the laws as it goes along! Wrong! As Francis Boyle, the University of Illinois political scientist, reminds in "Destroying World Order"(Clarity), Bush's illegal attack on Iraq violated the United Nations Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact, and is a Nuremberg Crime against Peace. Wars of aggression were "criminalized" generations ago.
Yes, accusing Bush's critics of seeking "revenge" is absurd. Those that want to see Bush in the dock could easily walk away from any confrontation. The reason they can't is because it is justice, not revenge, tugging at their conscience. Justice is weeping. She is pleading with us because Bush trampled the Constitution and the new president is solemnly sworn to prosecute. President Obama doesn't have a choice as to prosecute Bush or not. He can't use "looking forward" as an excuse for looking away. He must do his duty or turn the government over to somebody who will. After all, we elected a president, not Santa Claus.
Baker, of course, never mentions what it is that distresses people of conscience about George Bush: the lies, the "preventive war" with its dragnet arrests, barbarities, bombings (78,000 murdered by air strikes alone), even the torture of children in Iraq's prisons. No, you'd think Bush did nothing worse than take a lollipop from a toddler. Had Baker been alive in 1775 he might well have asked the Colonists to forget and forgive King George III for his "errors of judgment" and "fat-headedness."
If Professor Baker thinks the republic should not prosecute the biggest criminal that ever drew breath on this continent, maybe his heart will melt with pity, too, for the two million Americans imprisoned for lesser crimes, such as writing a bad check, stealing a car or mugging an old lady to snatch her purse. Not one of these prisoners, no, not one, ever started a war, and thousands of inmates are doing time for nothing worse than selling a few joints. So why not open the prison gates and set the criminal class free? After all he's done, if Bush ain't guilty, name one American who is. Whoopee! At last, compassionate conservatism for all, Ross Baker style!
Sherwood Ross formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News, the New York Herald-Tribune, and wire services. Currently, he runs a Miami-based public relations firm for worthy causes. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.