. . . he would have used more coercive tactics to stop the New York Times (as well as its West Coast counterpart for the latter story) from publishing details about the NSA program to monitor the international calls of terrorist suspects and last week’s story about the SWIFT program to track terrorist financing.
In comments to this blog, some of our critics borrowing unsubstantiated (except by their own rhetoric) notions from other left-leaning blogs claim that the president wants dictatorial powers. Andrew Sullivan calls him a “quasi-monarchical president.”
But, if the president were really attempting to exercise such powers, he would have not have used gentle suasion with the editors of the New York Times. Instead of trying to talk them out of publishing the story, he would have threatened the paper or sent armed thugs to rub them out.
President Bush has perhaps endured more mean-spirited and inaccurate attacks since taking office than any of his predecessors. But, as we know from recent experience, he has not been alone in suffering such slights. Indeed, newspapers and political opponents have been making nasty, unwarranted accusations against presidents going back to Thomas Jefferson at least — and perhaps even to George Washington.
To suffer that some people will level such unwarranted and dishonest attacks is the price we pay for the freedoms guaranteed to these hatemongers by the First Amendment. As hateful as their speech is, to prevent their speaking out would be wrong for a great variety of reasons. Not only would it deny them their freedom to speak out, but it would also lead to a slippery slope where even honest disagreement could be punished. And then there’s the key question of who would decide.
While I strongly believe that our media and the Chief Executive’s political adversaries should criticize the president when they disagree with his actions or proposals, in an ideal world, no leader would have to suffer the unsubstantiated allegations leveled by an arrogant press and vindictive opponents as has President Bush. But, that’s part of a free society. No dictator, however, would tolerate such opposition.
That President Bush has done nothing to silence the mean-spirited accusations of his opponents proves that he is anything but a dictator. That his critics continue to so attack him shows that they recognize as much. Their very rhetoric belies their arguments.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com