Thursday, December 8, 2005 at 10:57 AM

All the presidents’ women…who clean up their political mess

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

When President Reagan got into trouble for diverting funds from Iran to the Contras, wife Nancy protected his tarnished behind by diverting blame on others and firing Reagan’s Chief of Staff to make her point.

When President Clinton got into trouble for declaring under oath that “I never had sex with that woman…”, wife Hillary salvaged his butt from impeachment by declaring him the victim of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” and standing by her man.

And, now that President Bush is in trouble for cajoling new democracies in Eastern Europe into reverting to their old communist ways to run secret al-Qaeda prisons, political-wife Condi (they are so close that Condi once referrered to Bush in an interview as “My husb…er, the President”) is in Europe trying to cover his ass by reassuring America’s incredulous allies that:

“As a matter of U.S. policy, the United States’ obligations under the CAT [U.N. Convention Against Torture], which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment — those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States.”

Of course, in an artful dodge worthy of Bill Clinton, Rice did not deny that the U.S. solicited Eastern European allies who are less squeamish about exacting cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment on their own citizens – to say nothing of al-Qaeda suspects – to do its dirty work.

Just imagine the spectacle of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – seen here with Ukrainian President Vicktor Yushchenko, the man the U.S. hailed as democracy’s latest darling in an extraordinary joint session of Congress just months ago – shuttling this week all over the former totalitarian states of Eastern Europe, sheepishly proclaiming that President Bush has not ordered and does not condone the very kind of police-state tactics that they suffered under Soviet communism…

But her job is not only more foreign than domestic; the mess she has to clean up is potentially far more toxic to world affairs. After all, Condi is now in the untenable and unsustainable position of trying to convince the world that what she’s saying about U.S. policy on the torture of prisoners is not belied by daily news reports showing Americans committing the very abuses she denies – ever so diplomatically.

Unfortunately, just as he undermined the credibility of his previous Secretary of State by sending Colin Powell to the UN to present a fatally flawed case for America’s invasion of Iraq, Bush now seems determined to undermine Condi’s credibility (and effectiveness) by having her defend a policy that is not only disingenuous but also patently hypocritical.

Note: Meanwhile, the Russians, who once controlled these accommodating Eastern European states, have probably never felt so vindicated and self-righteous. After all, President Vladimir Putin has been governing their country like a politically savvy Joseph Stalin for years. And, perhaps even more troubling, his Putinization of Russia has been greeted with praise from many Russians whose alienation under American-style democracy induced nostalgia for the glory days of free vodka and absolute state control under Soviet communism.

But with America behaving eerily like the old Soviet Union (complete with its own invasion of Afghanistan), it may only be a matter of time before leaders in the other “former communist states” of Eastern Europe retreat to the Stalinization of their own countries….

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