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Paul Wolfowitz Gets All Ironical… and Scary

This Magazine Staff

In a bizarre op-ed in today’s New York Times, Paul Wolfowitz, the widely discredited court advisor to King George II, makes an impassioned plea to Presidential candidates in Indonesia to respect the rule of law and freedom of the press. Read it yourself. The ironies are too many and too deep to pick just one.

Instead, I want to focus on this weird passage below:

“While holding two fair presidential elections in a row is a hallmark of democratic progress, the real test of a democracy is how it protects the rights of its citizens. Our own Declaration of Independence doesn’t speak of elections but rather about the rights of all human beings to certain “inalienable rights,” in particular “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And it is a fundamental principle of our Constitution that citizens cannot be deprived of those rights except by due process of law.”

I see the point he’s making about individual freedoms, but it is almost crowded out of the picture by Mr. Wolfowitz’s near inexplicable slight of a free electoral process. Yeah, yeah, elections… whatever, the real important stuff is individual freedom. I say “near” inexplicable because he has shown little real desire to witness the spectacle of a truly free electoral process in Iraq anytime soon, and let’s not ignore the use of the term “fair presidential elections” by a guy who owes his job to stolen votes in Florida.

I am tempted to view this short passage as a Bush administration trial balloon on the perceived sanctity of elections within the American political process. The US vote is about six weeks away, and the electoral vote projections are looking better for Bush than they have all year (he’s moving ahead in Florida, which has been deadlocked forever), but this race is still a virtual dead heat with polls showing the most unstable voter preference since, well, since 2000. If Kerry starts making gains in key battleground states, will we be hearing more of these dark rumblings about how a fair election isn’t as important as one might think?

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