Enter Harry Taylor, a true-blue liberal, who managed to sneak into a conservative-packed North Carolina forum, hosted by the chief simian, George W. Bush.
The questions he addressed to the Simian, plus his hard-hitting rebukes, were hardly addressed by Bush, although he did a half-hearted attempt at explaining away the use of phone tappings, as provisioned by Congress under the Patriot Act.
Excerpts from the conversation between Bush and Taylor
QUESTION: I've got the mike.
BUSH: Okay, yes, very good. (Laughter and applause.) Good move.
QUESTION: You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are...
BUSH: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?
QUESTION: Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I -- in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and...
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Booo!
BUSH: No, wait a sec -- let him speak.
QUESTION: And I would hope -- I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I'm saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.
BUSH: It is, yes. (Applause.)
QUESTION: And I know that this doesn't come welcome to most of the people in this room, but I do appreciate that.
QUESTION: I don't have a question, but I just wanted to make that comment to you.
BUSH: I appreciate it, thank you. Let me...
QUESTION: Can I ask a question?
BUSH: I'm going to start off with what you first said, if you don't mind, you said that I tap your phones -- I think that's what you said. You tapped your phone -- I tapped your phones. Yes. No, that's right. Yes, no, let me finish. I'd like to describe that decision I made about protecting this country. You can come to whatever conclusion you want. The conclusion is I'm not going to apologize for what I did on the terrorist surveillance program, and I'll tell you why. We were accused in Washington, D.C. of not connecting the dots, that we didn't do everything we could to protect you or others from the attack. And so I called in the people responsible for helping to protect the American people and the homeland. I said, is there anything more we could do. And there -- out of this national -- NSA came the recommendation that it would make sense for us to listen to a call outside the country, inside the country from al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda in order to have real-time information from which to possibly prevent an attack. I thought that made sense, so long as it was constitutional. Now, you may not agree with the constitutional assessment given to me by lawyers -- and we've got plenty of them in Washington -- but they made this assessment that it was constitutional for me to make that decision. I then, sir, took that decision to members of the United States Congress from both political parties and briefed them on the decision that was made in order to protect the American people. And so members of both parties, both chambers, were fully aware of a program intended to know whether or not al Qaeda was calling in or calling out of the country. It seems like -- to make sense, if we're at war, we ought to be using tools necessary within the Constitution, on a very limited basis, a program that's reviewed constantly to protect us. Now, you and I have a different -- of agreement on what is needed to be protected. But you said, would I apologize for that? The answer -- answer is, absolutely not. (Applause.)
How he managed to smuggle himself into the forum packed with conservatives is one thing, how he managed to get his questions across in a unwavering manner, despite the heckles and boos, hell, I think he deserves a whole lot of credit.
It is quite clear that Bush has not addressed every issue of contention raised by Taylor, which can be summarized as follows:
1. The partial ban on abortion.
2. The Bush Administration's reluctance to address several environmental issues.
3. The Patriot Act, which provides provisions for detention without trial (Singaporeans will be familiar with this. Its called the Internal Security Act).
ISSUES ON PHONE-TAPPING
As it turned out, Bush merely addressed to the phone tapping issue, which he justisfies as a measure for counter-terrorism.
The unambiguous truth is this: Wire-tapping is not a new phenomenon. Past American Presidents, have, at one time or another, wire-tapped phones, most notably during the WWII.
All these activities, however, must been approved by the courts, which would then issue warrants to the inquiring law enforcement agencies to carry out these activities. In the case of the NSA (National Security Agency) wiretapping controversy, the wiretappings did not come with the explicit approval from any legal courts, other than the express approval of Bush the simian himself.
By invoking the Patriot Act, Bush bypasses the courts altogether. Without the explicit approval of the courts, there is no stopping the NSA: They might just as well wire-tap every damn phone in America without proper instructions or checks from any other authority, save those in the Bush Administration.
In short, there is no proper legal procedure: Just Bush calling the shots. You might just as well have been talking about the Fascist States Of America. Of course, Mr Bush can jokingly claim that "he isn't Mr Taylor's favorite guy", or that his actions are meant to protect America, but when a President activates such infringements of freedom and rights without proper protocco, it isn't really an issue about likability anymore.
Most important of all, Mr Taylor has raised a very serious concern here: George Bush's rhetorics about freedom has almost always been a precurser for the loss of freedom for the American public.
Mr Taylor's calls for Bush to "feel ashamed" is, to me, a form of praise, because somehow, I do not think for a second that that simian knows what "shame" really means. After all, when one has managed to screw a nation and deceive its people for so long, one becomes immuned to these things, especially when you consider that Bush isn't that intelligent in the first place.
In an interview by Washington Post afterward, Mr Taylor was pretty candid in his assessment:
"I didn't think I'd be let in the room," he said.
"I didn't care about his response. I wanted to say what I wanted to say and I wanted him to know that despite being in a room with a thousand people who love him . . . there are plenty of people out there who don't agree with him in any way, shape or form."
Well three cheers to the man, I say. With popularity polls at an all time low of 36 percent, the more anti-Bush rhetoric, the merrier.