Monday, November 08, 2004

Scandal Scorecard

Salon has an article today on how Bush's administration will somehow have some sort of scandal that will dwarf Watergate. Well, we've already had them. It ain't gonna happen - this administration has got the mandate to lie, cheat, steal and kill, there won't be anything that will bring them down.

Just to amuse myself, I decided to rank the presidential scandals on their moral depravity and how people got hurt by them and how our democratic institutions or standing in the world got hurt by them (an "A" being the actions of Beelzebub, and "F" being lying about doing your homework).

Let's begin with the one that everyone knows about as the par exemplar of presidential scandal: Watergate, specifically ordering the break-in and the coverup.

Watergate Moral Depravity: C-, the act was actually kind of minor, along with the coverup.
Watergate People and Property Damage: F
Watergate Institutional Damage: B+, mainly for the mistaken "Lost innocence" notion

Harding's Teapot Dome Moral Depravity: B
Harding's Teapot Dome People and Property Damage: D
Harding's Teapot Dome Institutional Damage: B+ (Really, Really corrupt cabinet officers)

Reagan's Iran-Contra Moral Depravity: C - mainly because the corruption was so prevalent in the administration - it was a massive operation. But this is balanced with the fact that it was done for wrong-headed, idealistic reasons than for personal gain or real evil.
Reagan's Iran-Contra People and Property Damage: Not much directly, but since it was aiding very bad people in Iran and Nicaragua, I'll give it a C.
Reagan's Iran-Contra Institutional Damage: A- for the fact that the corruption was institutional throughout.

Bill Clinton's Women and Whitewater Moral Depravity: D, mainly for the perjury, but who cares where his dick went.
Bill Clinton's Women and Whitewater People and Property Damage: D, given that Monica got the better of the deal, Paula Jones was not a victim in any sense and I believe Bill lost money on Whitewater.
Bill Clinton's Women and Whitewater Institutional Damage: C, mainly for the ludicrous impeachment proceedings.

Now Let's see what has happened in the last four years shall we?

Bush's Abu Ghraib: Moral Depravity: A, I would say that torture in the very place that Saddam tortured people is pretty depraved.
Bush's Abu Ghraib People and Property Damage: A, hmmm...torture? vs. Monica Lewinsky?
Bush's Abu Ghraib Institutional Damage: A, let's demonstrate to the world that the US can no longer be depended on to be ethical in anything we do.

Bush's Lies for Waging War on Iraq Moral Depravity: B, okay, one or two lies is expected for a President, but at last count having 23 primary reasons, much of them lies, is careless.
Bush's Lies for Waging War on Iraq People and Property Damage: A+, 100,000 dead Iraqis, 1000 dead soldiers and untold billions of dollars.
Bush's Lies for Waging War on Iraq People Institutional Damage: A+, for creating generations of hatred and distrust amongst our former allies and our enemies.

Bush's Outing Valerie Plame to punish Ambassador Wilson Moral Depravity: B,
Bush's Outing Valerie Plame to punish Ambassador Wilson People and Property Damage: D-, no damage yet, but just because Ms. Plame isn't dead yet is hardly an excuse...
Bush's Outing Valerie Plame to punish Ambassador Wilson Institutional Damage: B+, because of the presidential policy of punishing dissent by organized threats that endanger lives and livelihoods. I mean, Nixon had his enemies list, but he didn't actually attempt to kill them....

So, by my reckoning, in the past four years we've had three scandals off the top of my head that no-one will be indicted for, where no-one will be convicted and no-one will even be held responsible for. And they match up very well with scandals of previous administrations.

What do we have to learn from this? Well, Nixon and presumably Harding if he would have lived, were brought down by the scandals. Clinton, Reagan and Bush have weathered theirs just nicely. What is the common denominator? For Clinton, Reagan and Bush, the majority of the people did not believe that the man as President was a fundamentally wrong man even though in Reagan's and Bush's case much more than Clinton's they were. As long as you've got the people's opinion of your character in your pocket, you might as well be untouchable. Nixon and Harding definitely did not. Bush does and so the moral depravity will continue and I don't think he's even worried about covering it up anymore - I think he stopped two years ago about seriously covering it up, especially after 9/11 saved his presidency. He's got the perfect "Get out of Jail free card".


At 9:45 AM, Blogger Scott said...

As far as I can tell from a cursory glance at this entry, you appear to have given President Bush straight "A"s. I will stop reading and take this as an implicit mandate for any and all of President Bush's policies.

You are now an official supplier of political capital.

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Jim said...

No, I didn't - he got B's and D's on the Valerie Plame episode.

Can you even begin to imagine how utterly colossally Rush Limbaugh's head would have exploded if the Clinton White House would have outed a CIA agent to punish a detractor? I mean, natives would be picking up pieces in Timbuktu and the Outer Hebrides and saying, "Well, do we eat it? It's kinda burnt and foul-smelling. I'll give it to the dogs."

At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this site really blows. :(


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