Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Crossed the Line

According to President Bush, Pervez Musharraf "has advanced democracy in Pakistan," and not just a long time ago (like when he first seized power in a coup), but even recently. So said our Commander in Chief in an interview with ABC News yesterday. (Transcript here; video here). Here's my favorite part of the interview:

CHARLES GIBSON: Is there a line he cannot cross, that he cannot cross, something that would go too far, where you might say to yourself, 'OK, that's enough?'

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Well, he hasn't crossed the line. As a matter of fact, I don't think that, uh, he will cross any lines. I think he truly is somebody who believes in democracy. And he made a decision, we didn't necessarily agree with his decision, to impose emergency rule, and I, my, hopefully he'll get, get rid of the rule. Today I thought was a pretty good signal that he released thousands of people from jail.

I see, so if you jail judges, lawyers and journalists for opposing your efforts to assume all powers for yourself (uh, make that "your efforts to advance democracy"), then you haven't crossed any lines, so long as you later release some of them. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that Musharraf crossed to the bad side of the line, but then (on Bush's account) crossed back to the acceptable side? So hasn't he crossed the line (at least) twice?

My second favorite part of the interview is watching Bush's face and listening to his tone in response to the question from Gibson whether the Pakistani nukes are secure. Bush says:
I certainly hope so. We feel pretty comfortable at this moment in time. And of course we'll pay very close attention to, to any, country that has got nuclear weapons. And, but yeah, I feel good about it right now.
In these words and even more clearly in the video, it appears that Bush is trying to send his standard signal: We're doing a great job protecting the national security, so don't worry, but also be very very afraid.

Happy Thanksgiving! (I won't post again until Monday, but one or more of my co-bloggers might.)

Posted by Mike Dorf

9 comments:

Anil Kalhan said...

I wonder if this means that, according to President Bush, President Clinton wouldn't have "crossed any lines" if in December 2000 -- on the eve of Bush v. Gore, and citing the need for continuity of government to pursue al Q'aeda after it bombed the USS Cole -- he:

1. "suspended" the Constitution,
2. replaced it with a "provisional" constitution that he had drafted himself,
3. dismissed the Supreme Court,
4. "reconstituted" the Court with justices willing to agree, as a condition of being judges at all, that they would vote against Bush in any election-related cases that came before the Supreme Court, and
5. imposed a media blackout restricting the ability of journalists to cover any of this independently.

Oh, and maybe also to boot, if he:
5. detained Bush and all of his lawyers incommunicado and without charge. After all, if he released some of them a few weeks later, that might have been a "pretty good signal."

PG said...

I suspect that Bush is far more sympathetic to the Pakistani government's treatment of terrorist detainees than he is to, say, the Indian government's. In an interesting role reversal, instead of being the forces for rule of law as the Pakistani lawyers have been in their protests, some Indian lawyers have been the reactionary forces trying to deny due process to terrorism suspects.

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