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Friday, July 20, 2007
(10:37 AM) | Stephen:
Schoolyard Bullies And Babies

When I was a kid, we played a game at school called "Booty On The Wall." When the teachers were in earshot, we called it "Fireball." It's a common game. One kid throws a racquetball against the side of the school, and then people have to catch it. The ball can bounce once before it's caught. If the ball comes close to you, you have to try and catch it. If you either don't catch it or don't try, then you have to run and touch the wall. While you're running, the rest of the guys try to get the ball and hit you with it. If you get to the wall first, no problem. You can miss as many times as you want, as long as you get to the wall first.

But if you get hit by the ball before you touch the wall, that's one. If you make it to three, you have to stand against the wall, facing out - with your booty on the wall. Every other player lines up and takes a turn throwing the racquetball at you. You can't move, except your head, and if everyone is in a good mood you can use one hand to cover your delicate bits. Or you get in the habit of wearing a cup to recess - always a good idea at my school. I haven't said anything about Trench yet.

Anyway, there's only one thing that can stop the game once you get your booty on the wall - well, besides a teacher. It's a magic phrase that stops all children's games: Time Out. Nothing can stand up to Time Out. You can be a huge jerk during games and people will still let you play. But if you either ignore that someone called Time Out, or worse, if you actually call Time Out as a trick, you're gone. You're a pariah. No one wants to play with you.

The Bush Administration, a collection of schoolyard bullies and babies if there ever was one, has decided that they have a phrase that means Time Out. Their magic words are "Executive Privilege." If Bush invokes Executive Privilege, it means that you can't tag them, you can't tackle them, you can't hit them with a racquetball, you can't shoot them with a water gun. "Executive Privilege!" they say, and they're supposed to be invulnerable.

So if Congress holds Harriet Miers in contempt, the Bush Administration line is that the Justice Department can't pursue anything against her, because apparently everything she has ever said or done is covered by Executive Privilege. And Bush is obviously willing to extend this to everyone who has ever worked for him, or spoken to him, or looked at him, or seen a picture of him.

But this isn't a real Time Out. It's a trick. They're calling Time Out so that everyone stops what they're doing and starts arguing about whether or not it's OK to call it right now - all the while using the confusion and distraction to position themselves more advantageously.

If Bush is going to use schoolyard rules, then everyone needs to use them. And Bush has repeatedly committed the most grievous sins of the schoolyard. So no matter what our "parents" - the complacent DC press - say, we need to hit back, hard. He needs to be impeached. Dick Cheney needs to be impeached. Congress needs to take back this government, and fast, because while everyone squabbles about the Time Out, they're cooking up new schemes to invade countries, spy on American citizens, suspend rights - you name it, they're trying to make it happen.

If the Democratic members of Congress had attended my elementary school, Bush and Cheney would be toast. At my school, people tended to use a false Time Out once. If only the same rules applied in Washington.

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