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El General

Does anyone else find Bush's comments on the alleged secret accounts held in General Augusto Pinochet's name at New York's Riggs Bank, now under investigation for all manner of shady dealings, more than a little bit creepy?

Reports the Associated Press:

"'I think the people of Chile must know that there will be a full investigation,' Bush said after an Oval Office meeting with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. 'It's important for the facts to be ... on the table so we know what course of action may or may not be needed. That's what you're seeing. You're seeing a transparent society dealing with allegations.'"

What's strange is the way his rhetoric carries a sort of middle-school-level civics lesson. Instead of confirming, say, that reports of illegal accounts are troubling, he feels the need to remind us of what seem almost to be Invisible Hand-like operations of the legal processes of a democracy. He sounds a bit like the tour bus driver for a group of Close Up students on the junior year visit to Washington. "And, on your left, you're seeing a transparent society dealing with allegations. No, Susie, not there. Just behind the two men in suits exchanging briefcases full of cash. Right, just over their shoulders."

I can't quite put my finger on what it is that disturbs me in Bush's rhetoric here, but there's something decidedly off-putting about it -- in fact, he almost sounds self-defensive, like a teenager who complains to his mother that he was, in fact, just about to wash the car before she started hounding him about it. "Mom, c'mon. I was just about to deal with those allegations. I mean, I'm already dealing with them, for crying out loud. That's what a transparent society does."

Right. This from a president who's done more than any American chief of state since Nixon to keep the workings of a transparent society as opaque as possible.

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