All the President's Men

Dime con quien andas y te digo quien eres

By Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: September 26, 2003

All the President's Men

"In the end, you are not what you eat. Rather, you are whom you associate
with. If you run around with despicable people, the heavy odds are that you are
despicable as well."
-- Bill O'Reilly, "Who's Looking Out for You?"

Some presidents have all the luck. No matter what goes wrong, none of the
muck seems to ever stick. One might argue that current President George W. Bush
has outdone even former president Ronald "Iran-Contra" Reagan in the Teflon
department. This is clearly evident even after the president has admitted that
WMD-less Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The same, however, does not apply to
his underlings.

For example:

-- Dick Cheney, vice president. He, along with the president, is the most linked to the oil and energy industries and seemingly the most detached from reality regarding Iraq. Additionally, he represents secret government -- the antithesis of democracy.

-- John Ashcroft, attorney general. The most feared government official since former FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. The wrong man to go on tour to defend the Patriot Act. Little wonder why his speeches have been closed to the public.

-- Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary. Along with Richard Perle, he best personifies the cabal behind the New American Century -- the neoconservative "pre-emptive war" agenda that has sought U.S. military global domination (and a war against Iraq), long before the election of the current president.

-- George Tenet, CIA director. His failure to prevent the politicization of intelligence, plus his attempt to accept the blame on behalf of the president for creating the illusion that Iraq presented an imminent threat to "the free world" has irreparably tarnished his image.

-- Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser. This ideologue has been reduced to a tragicomic Sunday morning talk-show flack, continuing to blindly defend the president's military agenda.

-- Donald Rumsfeld, defense secretary. He has been reduced to an obstinate dinosaur who seems to have few clues about what it means, or what it requires, to win the peace.

-- Tom Ridge, Homeland Security secretary. His color-coded legacy will be to have laid the groundwork for a nightmarish Big Brother Internal Ministry.

-- Newt Gingrich. The most polarizing politico from the 1990s has resurfaced as an informal adviser to Donald Rumsfeld.

Three former administration officials are also worth noting here:

-- Ari Fleischer, press secretary. This verbal hawk was in charge of the daily squawk, delivering the president's war rationales.

-- Christie Whitman, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator. She put her reputation on the line as a moderate, yet oversaw the near-complete destruction of the EPA.

-- Eric K. Shinseki, former Army chief of staff general. In February, he told Congress that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to occupy Iraq ... and was shortly thereafter shown the door.

The president's list is actually longer. The following are Iran-Contra figures who are now deeply embedded within the current administration:

Elliot Abrams, senior director of the National Security Council's Office for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations. Richard Armitage, deputy
secretary of state. Otto Reich, assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs. John Negroponte, U.S. point man to the U.N. -- the world's peace-making body.

John Poindexter, retired admiral. Made himself even more unpopular with several harebrained schemes, including the (Big Brother) Total Information Awareness program and the terrorism futures scheme that led to his resignation.

Colin Powell, secretary of state. Arguably, he may actually have more Teflon than his boss, allowing his name to continually be sullied, in making the case for one illegal war after another -- all this based on fraudulent evidence. To this day, he insists that the Iraq war is being prosecuted under U.N. authority.

The only Iran-Contra figure missing from this list is Oliver "It was either lies or lives" North -- though he was embedded during the recent Iraq war. It's anyone's guess why the president chose to "rehabilitate" these polarizing figures who continue to remind the world of the U.S. role in Central America's bloodthirsty wars of the 1980s that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and the displacement of millions.

Perhaps this old adage will catch up with the president: "Dime con quien andas y te digo quien eres." Roughly translated: "He is the sum total of those around him."


About Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez:
Gonzales & Rodriguez can be reached at 608-238-3161or

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