"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
- 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
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.
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
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