Somehow, Bush will escape the second-term curse

In its first term, the George W. Bush presidency was marked by a series of tradeoffs. It traded the capture of a man who organized the flying of planes into the World Trade Center three-and-a-half years ago for the capture of Saddam Hussein, a man who did not. It traded saving billions of dollars that have since been squandered for giving tax cuts to the wealthy.

It traded a well-reasoned war in Afghanistan for a poorly reasoned one in Iraq.

The only thing the administration didn’t attempt to trade was credibility, which remained at a constant level of zero.

Many Americans expect the Bush administration’s luck to run out and for it to finally succumb to the dreaded “second-term curse” that has plagued past presidents fortunate enough to get re-elected.

For once I have good news for conservatives: don’t worry, this man is untouchable.

Bush has managed to get re-elected despite a miserable economic record (usually the deciding factor in national elections), a dismal approval rating (he became the first president ever to go into election day with a rating below 50 percent and emerge victorious) and astronomically high record deficits that make Ronald Reagan look like a miser.

He did this while receiving more votes than any previous president.

In addition to its poor track record, the Bush administration is among the most corrupt in our nation’s history.

Despite this, it has not caught any hell for its deceit, its complete lack of accountability and for the needless loss of life that occurred under Bush’s watch. Right-wingers should feel free to sit back and relax – their man is the new Teflon president.

If history is any indication, Bush’s second term will be even more corrupt than his first.

Ulysses S. Grant, our nation’s 18th president, saw his second term ravaged by scandal and the appointment of two attorneys general in addition to the three that had served during his first term.

Richard Nixon’s legacy speaks mightily of the second-term curse. News of the Watergate scandal broke during his second term.

After the famed “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he twice attempted to fire the special prosecutor that was investigating him, he was ultimately forced to resign in disgrace.

Yet even Watergate pales in comparison to the corruption that took place during the second term of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Fresh off a big election victory, the Reagan administration gave birth to the notorious Iran-Contra scandal.

Iraq, then our ally, was at war with Ayatollah-led Iran from 1980 to 1988. A hemisphere away, U.S.-backed Contras challenged Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Earlier in the decade, Congress had passed the Boland Amendment, which disallowed government aid to the Contras.

Apparently, nobody bothered to tell this to National Security Council staffer Lt. Col. Oliver North, National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane and a select group of other administration officials who diverted money to the very same Contras Congress had told them not to assist.

The scheme unfolded as follows. First, North and others used secret liaisons in Israel to contact Iranian officials, offering to sell U.S. missiles and weapons systems to the Iranians. The money from the weapons sales was then filtered to the Contras in violation of the Boland Amendment.

Not only did this devious plot deceive unsuspecting Americans, but it also broke numerous laws by engaging in trade with a terrorist nation.

North and the others involved in the dishonest ploy were tried and convicted but later had their convictions overturned on testimonial technicalities.

While they created a shield of plausible deniability that protected Reagan from facing criminal charges, their actions greatly tarnished the president’s legacy.

Until now, no president has been immune from the curse. Woodrow Wilson saw his legacy as defender of democracy stained when he failed to gain support for the League of Nations during his second term.

Bill Clinton’s legacy as a popular moderate and a champion of free trade got roughed up during his second term because he was a lousy family man.

Clinton’s impeachment then set the stage for Bush’s victory over Al Gore and the scandals that plagued Bush’s cabinet.

On Mar. 3, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell sat before the United Nations and lied to the member nations for several hours about the existence of weapons of mass destruction. He is no longer serving, yet his resignation has nothing to do with being held accountable for his deceit.

In four years as attorney general, John Ashcroft infringed on countless civil liberties. He oversaw the roundup of more terror suspects – over 5,000 foreign nationals – than any other attorney general in history. Despite this, he failed to produce a single conviction that proved a terrorist conspiracy.

Not surprisingly, he was allowed to step down without paying any kind of price.

On Nov. 2, much of the world’s population groaned as America elected Bush to a second term. Now that we’re stuck with him, the least we can do is hold him accountable before the scandals spiral out of control.