"Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004
election. And the American people listened to different assessments
about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two
candidates, and chose me, for which I'm grateful."
--President George Bush, January 16, 2005 Washington Post interview
I was shocked to learn that the 2004 election was the American people's
single, solitary moment to hold the current administration accountable
for its actions. As the president begins his
second term, know that you blew your one and only chance at holding him
With the passing of the accountability moment there can be no more
comments from the peanut gallery. If there are families and
of our soldiers who have some growing doubt about our mission in Iraq,
In a very linear, and I do mean linear, sense the president is correct.
Accountability is, indeed, what elections involving incumbents is about.
By the margin of roughly 119,000 individuals in Ohio, the American
people believed that the president's record warranted an additional
But in Bushspeak this could mean something very different. Bush seems to think that Election 2004 was our only opportunity to halt
what it is becoming a 21st century version of Manifest
Destiny. The president's belief in his God-given right to act as he
fit reduces the Geneva Convention and the Constitution to secondary
considerations. And from the president's perspective, the accountability moment is
that happens once every four years.
But acts of opposition should be
undertaken more frequently than every four years during presidential
elections. Could you imagine the Civil Rights Movement protesting
the 1960 presidential campaign between Kennedy and Nixon, then
putting everything on hold until the 1964 campaign between Johnson and
Goldwater? Was Congress was wrong for going after Nixon for Watergate? Was the Monica Lewinsky affair completely out of bounds?
Not only does the passing of the election grant immunity to the president, but such favor also gets passed on to members of his administration.
This would certainly explain the rationale for Paul Bremer, Tommy
and George Tenet joining the ranks of Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa
in receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. If accountability is
factor, then I suspect outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft's medal
will be ready by the time Alberto Gonzales is confirmed.
What is perhaps most concerning is that the president's statement leads
me to ultimately conclude that on November 2, 2004, we the people
relinquished any right to hold this administration accountable for
Why don't we just lay down in silence while the
privatizes Social Security and changes the tax code?
It seems somewhat paradoxical that while the president
his determination for democracy in Iraq, he also suggests that
the American people suspend one of its most precious resources for the
next 48 months.
The ability to hold our government accountable is fundamental to the
American experiment. It was ratified by the Founding Fathers, held
together by Lincoln, protected by Roosevelt, and reignited by King.
Meanwhile, the president, who has the lowest approval rating of a
reelected incumbent since Nixon, believes that having survived the
accountability moment he is no longer accountable.
Byron Williams writes a weekly political/social commentary at
Byronspeaks.com. Byron serves as pastor of the Resurrection Community
Church in Oakland, California.
© 2005 Working Assets