By MARC McDONALD
Predictably, George W. Bush has pandered to his "fundamentalist" base by issuing his veto on stem cell research. In defending his first-ever veto, Bush claimed to be troubled by the "the taking of innocent human life."
To which I say: since when?
Bush has long had callous disregard for innocent human life that predates the 100,000 men, women and children civilians that have been killed in his immoral Iraq war.
In fact, Bush's disregard for innocent lives goes back to his term as Texas governor, where he signed off on the executions of 131 prisoners---far more than any other state. Statistically, he was likely responsible for the executions of at least nine innocent people.
In 2000, Illinois governor George Ryan captured headlines when he suspended the death penalty in his state, saying that he couldn't support "a system which has proven so fraught with error."
As journalist Alexander Cockburn has pointed out:
"Since 1977, Illinois has executed 12 -- and freed 13 from death row on the grounds that their innocence had been conclusively established. Nationwide, the number of such people spared the execution chamber (sometimes, by as slim a margin as a day or two) on grounds of proven innocence is 85."
"If Illinois is in this sorry condition, what can we say of Texas, where defendants are denied trained lawyers, appeals are rushed through often as mere formalities, and clemency is almost never granted?"
Unfortunately, there's no sign that, as governor, Bush was ever any more troubled by this shocking state of affairs than he is today by the hell on earth that he has unleashed in Iraq.
Aides reported that Bush usually only spent around 15 minutes (long enough to go fetch of cup of coffee) looking over the paperwork for each execution case in Texas.
Bush even once made light of the case of Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War. In an offensive, bizarre interview in 1999, Bush pursed his lips in mock desperation as he whimpered "Please don't kill me," in a mocking parody of Tucker.
In that smirking, frat-boy interview, I think we saw the real George W. Bush: a callous, evil man who couldn't care less about life (as long as it's poor, destitute people on Death Row who can't afford competent legal assistance).
As we've seen in the stem cell debate, the whole issue of "sanctity of life" is just another issue for Bush to cynically exploit. At the end of the day, it's clear that the only "values" Bush has are doing whatever it takes to serve the needs of his wealthy corporate backers.
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