Thursday, May 10, 2007

Staying With No Staying-Power

It’s stunning how difficult it is to get stubborn people to change (or leave) when they have no shame.


Paul Wolfowitz over at the World Bank is an example, but we’re not lacking for others in this administration. Rumsfeld was and Gonzales is yet a further example. The work of administering grinds to a halt, but the Bush administration shudders on like a rudderless ship.


It’s stunning how difficult it is to get stubborn people to change (or leave) when they have no shame.
Paulwolfowitz Paul Wolfowitz over at the World Bank is an example, but we’re not lacking for others in this administration. Rumsfeld was and Gonzales is yet a further example. The work of administering grinds to a halt, but the Bush administration shudders on like a rudderless ship.
Resting the spotlight for a moment on Paul, one has to wonder how the hell he continues to walk into his office in the face of no support at all. The girl-friend’s contract is the excuse for canning him, but that’s a put-up job. The reason everyone at the bank (and I mean everyone) wants him out is his overpowering arrogance. Wolfowitz worked easily with no one and jobs like president at the World Bank are largely about deference and people-skills. Much like John Bolton over at the United Nations, Paul acted as if he had a mandate where none existed. Even his personal assistant has left in embarrassment.
Moving on from Wolfowitz, there’s a virtual smorgasbord of officials staying on even though their staying-power is long gone. Stamina, toughness, enduring strength and energy have been replaced by running out the clock--a strategy of teams afraid to put the ball back in play.
Bushpensive The president heads that list, disapproved by a nearly three-to-one margin, yet willing to take his party down to even greater defeat in the 2008 election to save his—what?—reputation? Honor?
Both are beyond salvation. The sad fact is that this president would destroy whatever is necessary to destroy, just to avoid admitting he was wrong. He thinks (and is probably correct in thinking) that he can ride this Congress through to the end of his term and blame the Democratic administration that will undoubtedly follow his.
They lost the war, they ruined the military, they wrecked the economy, they left us vulnerable to attack, they brought us to our knees. If only they would have supported me, it would have all been different.
History need not agree. It will be enough for Bush to cut brush down at the ranch and know in his confused and self-aggrandizing mind that it would have all been different, should have been different, if America had only stayed the course.
The reasons that the wheels are coming off this presidency are twofold.  First, its policies, from economics to military to civil governance, were all based on lies. The proof of this, if proof were needed, is that they did not allow the country into the processes that shaped those policies.
Cheneymeetpress No honest government would withhold from public knowledge the meetings within which energy policy was formed. Trustworthy government would celebrate that process, boast of the industry leaders who formed it and bring the country along on a tide of confidence. Energy is but an example.
This is an administration forged in subterfuge, relying upon misinformation and clandestine meetings, simultaneously stonewalling the legal and congressional processes of inquiry. It had control of the Congress, the Supreme Court and—most frightening and most injurious to our collective freedoms—the media.
Its method was to decry what was not the case. Ceaselessly beating the drum of liberal bias in the press, radio and television, Bush reveled in his control of them all. He knew he could get away with it and he did. What media Republican business interests did not control, he neatly intimidated by constantly calling them unpatriotic, enablers of terrorism, lacking courage to respond to 9-11. The biggest lie of all was that those close to the president were not themselves guilty of just those charges.
But lies will out.
The second reason for wheels coming off is incompetence and it’s a heartbreaking charge to make against an administration in a time of national emergency. But there it is.
From the Pentagon through FEMA, Homeland Security, the Justice Department, Veterans Administration, FDA, EPA, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior, and the State Department, each and every day brings news of yet another disaster.
A huge part of that is due to presidential appointment. Every incoming administration names a vast number of appointees to various agencies. It’s part of the spoils of winning and has been abused to larger or smaller degrees by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Karlrove But this administration has, as a matter of policy that points directly to Karl Rove, inundated government with young and inexperienced professionals whose only litmus test was their evangelical conservative fervor.
This is exactly how we got a 23 year-old with no financial experience, laying out and dictating the details of an Iraqi stock exchange. This is how Monica Goodling, a 33 year-old with no prosecutorial or other legal experience became liaison between the Attorney General and the White House, with hiring and firing authority over senior prosecutors.
It was a Rove intention that Republicans would control the White House for many election cycles yet to come. In that interim, these young semi-fanatical adherents of evangelical policy would significantly influence the vast number of governmental agencies among whom they had been seeded. Chosen for philosophy over expertise and exercising extraordinary control—in some agencies, all policy matters required their approval—they became a source of widespread failure in Iraq as well as domestically.
This sad state of affairs is the result of a bi-partisan failure. The Republicans, perhaps for the only time in their history (okay, twice then), governed ineptly and unconstitutionally.
The reason impeachment of the president and vice-president is required has nothing at all to do with Bush-bashing and everything to do with limiting presidential power. The goal of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld has been to un-limit the constitutional limits of presidential power. They are still stung by Nixon's resignation and think that was avoidable, had the cover-up been better carried out.
They succeeded in powering, on the wings of 9-11, the most incredible and outrageous power grab in the history of the presidency. The purpose of an impeachment is not to punish, although that might make some feel good. The purpose is to keep similar temptations from the hands of future presidents, when the fates allow a convergence of national emergency and control of all three branches of government by a single party.
Don’t think for a moment this is a uniquely Republican danger—demagogues come in all colors and flavors and, like seeds in the desert require only a unique circumstance to bloom and grow.
Pelosiswearingin What makes this a bi-partisan failure is Nancy Pelosi’s taking impeachment ‘off the table’ in this congress.
She claims healing as her reason, but I doubt her integrity of purpose. Nancy senses a ‘slam-dunk’ in the 2008 presidential election and (in my view) wants no controversy to distract from that victory and particularly no unnecessary awakening of the radical Republican base.
It goes without saying that a continuation of her job as Speaker of the House is on the line as well. If Bush were impeached, an unlikely but necessary undertaking, Pelosi would become president for a very short period of time and another Speaker be elected in her place. Pelosi considers a short and accidental presidency not even close to the power and prestige of a long reign as the first woman Speaker of the House. Thus is illustrated how politics ofttimes trumps good government and not always at the hands of a particular party.
Meanwhile (as proven by Gonzales, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Bush) if one’s skin is sufficiently thick, staying-power requires not much more than the stubbornness to stay.
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