Have you heard of Executive Order 13233?
On November 1, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13233, a policy enabling his administration to govern in secrecy. For good reason, this has upset many historians, journalists, and Congresspersons (both Republican and Democratic). The Order ends 27 years of Congressional and judicial efforts to make presidential papers and records publicly available. In issuing it, the president not only has pushed his lawmaking powers beyond their limits, but he may be making the same mistakes as Richard Nixon.
That reference to Nixon is a dire warning that in 2004 the voters may punish Bush for his "mystical veil of national security" which he has routinely invoked. I think that's absurdly optimistic. The beauty of an Executive Order demanding secrecy is that things get to be secret. This won't even amount to a blip on the radar of the majority of voters - completely eclipsed by much more macro-scale issues, like war, the economy, etc. But if Bush wins in 2004, the effects of 13233 will have long-term consequences.
What are those consequences? I don't know. Already there are unforseen repercussions of our Iraq campaign, with China. And new blogger John McKay has a deeply thought-provoking post about the turning points of history (emphasis mine):
I hope we all had a chance to look around last Wednesday and etch the world, as it existed then, into our collective memory. There is a very good chance that Wednesday was the last day of the world we grew up in. For the last week or so I have had a quote banging around in my head. As the British Parliment votes to go to war in 1914, the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, is supposed to have commented to a friend, "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." I know how he felt.
I usually hate that kind of hyperbole. But I think that in a historical sense, Wednesday really will go down as one of those days when the old world was so badly fractured that no amount of policy-reversal, counter-revolution, good will, healing, or forceful reaction will ever bring it back. It was possibly the August 1, 1914 or the July 14, 1789 of the twenty-first century. Wednesday was certainly more of an irreversible moment than 9/11 or the Supreme Court electing Bush, Jr. president. When Bush got to have his war on his terms, the diplomatic and international order of the last half of the twentieth century died. It is not the war itself that did the damage; it is the course by which the Busheviks brought us to the war that did the damage.