A government that becomes accustomed to thinking of itself as an empire falls easily into the habit of issuing imperial decrees and soon acquires the characteristics that Secretary of State Cohn Powell last February attributed to a failed state, ‘‘unrepresentative of its people . . . rife with corruption,” blighted by “a lack of transparency,” thinking that “it can achieve a position on the world stage through development of weapons of mass destruction that will turn out to be fool’s gold . . .“ The secretary was speaking of North Korea and Iraq; he might as well have been talking about Vice President Dick Cheney’s vision of a reconfigured United States. If not as a concerted effort to restrict the liberties of the American people, how else does one describe the Republican agenda now in motion in the nation’s capital? Backed by the specious promise of imminent economic recovery and secured by the guarantee of never-ending war, the legislative measures mobilized by the White House and the Congress suggest that what the Bush Administration has in mind is not the defense of the American citizenry against a foreign enemy but the protection of the American oligarchy from the American democracy. In every instance, and no matter what the issue immediately at hand, the bias is the same—more laws limiting the rights of individuals, fewer laws restraining the rights of property:
As if wishing to leave nobody in doubt about the political bias now afoot in Washington, President Bush took the trouble to juxtapose his endorsement of affirmative action for the rich (the speech to the Economic Club of Chicago on January 7 (2003) favoring the removal of all taxes paid on corporate dividends) with his objection to affirmative action for the poor (his remarks from the White House on January 15 finding fault with the admissions policies at the University of Michigan).