Monday, May 21, 2018
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Op-Ed Columns

Turkey award is simple justice for 2007 recipient

THE paparazzi are just impossible. But the red carpet crowd is begging to be noticed. All the puffed-up honorees vying for best of the worst hope to take home my 2007 Turkey of the Year award, but only one loser will win.

While Joan Rivers - who's been an honorable mention in the Turkeys as often as she's been to the plastic surgeon - dresses down the dolled-up derelicts arriving late, let's sashay inside for the show. A veritable Who's-Who of Turkey contenders preen themselves in their seats and in the aisles. The 2008 presidential candidates just won't sit down. Wait a minute. Hillary - Lucy of the Peanuts gang - is telling all the boys challenging her for the Democratic nomination to pipe down and park it.

They do. But to their far right there's a fracas among Messrs. Thompson, Romney, McCain, and Giuliani over who gets an unobstructed view of the Turkey trophy. Feathers fly until some strange bird named Ron Paul quietly slips into the best seat in the house.

The international tributes were conducted earlier. Pakistan swept the Turkeys, even beating out Iran as the most unstable nuclear threat on the planet. Accepting on behalf of the dangerously radical nation where militant Islamist groups operate with impunity was Pervez Musharraf. The unpopular autocrat shared the honors with Pakistan's former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who unfortunately was under house arrest at the time and couldn't attend the ceremonies in person.

The Iranian president didn't take kindly to being upstaged and launched into a diatribe about jihads and Jews and whatever else can rile Westerners who don't know any better. Israel and the Palestinians, always strong Turkey contenders, complained that they should have at least been runners-up for allowing a seven-year lull in any meaningful peace talks, the upcoming Annapolis conclave notwithstanding.

Actually, Middle East negotiations have been dormant for most of the Bush presidency, which brings us back to the soiree. As usual, the competition for the turkey that towers over the spectacular failures of so many other fowl is fierce.

The prize for biggest walking disaster could easily be shared by geniuses in the subprime mortgage market who created a house of cards, so to speak, or the Barry Bondses of the athletic world, who tarnish their sport by taking unfair advantage and denying it, or oilmen celebrating obscene gas prices and toasting their good fortune of having friends in high places.

Speaking of the lame duck loser in the White House, Mr. Bush may come closest to embodying the ideals of the Turkey: to exceed all expectations for deception and dishonor.

Yet the man still sleeps like a baby. The President is a myopic marvel with 13 more months of havoc to wreak. And that's surprisingly easy to do in a town that has long been a turkey magnet, drawing losers from the highest echelons of government to the political leadership on Capitol Hill.

Take the Democrats running Congress. Please. They're all flap and no fare. They haven't come close to delivering on their key midterm promise to change course in Iraq. All they do is grumble about not having the votes to effect real change or override presidential vetoes - except a pork-laden water bill. Pathetic.

But not as pathetic as Alberto Gonzales. The former attorney general, who made a practice of stonewalling Congress and boldly lying to the American public about what he knew and when he knew it, is lucky he's not in prison now.

He took an American institution that always tried to stay above the political fray and created a subterfuge with political litmus tests that undermined its credibility. Justice Department attorneys who weren't Republican enough or loyal enough to the Bush League got the boot regardless of how dedicated or respected they were on the job.

Mr. Gonzales, who wrote the infamous memos on torture that reinterpreted the rule of law to fit White House policy, comes from the same dark side of the administration as Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove. Like the others, his consistently shameful conduct in high office raises the bar for future turkeys. But the 2007 Turkey of the Year award is all his.

Marilou Johanek is a Blade commentary writer.

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