George W. Is No George Washington
February 19, 2007
On President’s Day, Bush went to Mount Vernon. He should have thought twice about that.
“This is the home of the first George W.,” he said. And by way of attempted humor, he said: “He doesn’t look a day over 275 years old.”
Bush compared “George Washington’s long struggle for freedom” with his own military adventures. “Today, we’re fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life,” Bush said.
And Bush cited Washington’s Farewell Address as support for these adventures.
But that’s hard to find if you examine that address.
For here are some of things that Washington said there:
“Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
“Cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace.”
“Permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection.”
“Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable.”
He cautioned against “projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives.”
And, 160 years before Eisenhower, he warned against “overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”
Washington underscored the need for the Constitution to be “sacredly maintained,” calling it “sacredly obligatory upon all.”
And he particularly warned against “usurpation” by one branch of government over another. He called this “the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
In fact, he referred to it as despotism.
Here’s the passage:
“It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, real despotism.”
Under this definition, George W. Bush has created “real despotism” in the United States. He has encroached upon Congress’s war powers. He has violated laws and treaties against torture. He has violated the separation of powers by issuing more than 750 signing statements. And he has usurped the roles both of Congress and the courts by violating the FISA Act and spying on Americans without a warrant.
In his Second Inaugural Address, Washington was clear about what should happen to a President who does not uphold the Constitution.
“If it shall be found during my administration of the government I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.”
Call George Washington to be a witness for Bush's impeachment.