Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bush Whacked, Big-Time

[[M E D I A]] * Over the last five years, I’ve alternately applauded The New York Times editorial page for its courage to question George W. Bush’s motivations and methods, and damned its persistent faith in the prez’s ability to turn things around--both for himself and for the nation he supposedly serves. However, today’s lead editorial, “President Bush’s Walkabout,” leaves no question that “the newspaper of record” has lost its previous optimism about Dubya’s leadership skills:
After President Bush’s disastrous visit to Latin America, it’s unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can’t afford an American government this bad for that long.

In Argentina, Mr. Bush, who prides himself on his ability to relate to world leaders face to face, could barely summon the energy to chat with the 33 other leaders there, almost all of whom would be considered friendly to the United States under normal circumstances. He and his delegation failed to get even a minimally face-saving outcome at the collapsed trade talks and allowed a loudmouthed opportunist like the
president of Venezuela to steal the show. ...

The White House is in an uproar over the future of Karl Rove, the president’s political adviser, and spinning off rumors that some top cabinet members may be asked to walk the plank. Mr. Bush could certainly afford to replace some of his top advisers. But the central problem is not Karl Rove or Treasury Secretary John Snow or even Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary. It is President Bush himself.
Wow. All of that sounds awfully close to the Times calling for Bush’s resignation, or else his unwilling impeachment and removal from office. However, what follows suggests that Times editors believe the better course would be for the prez to get a grip on his drifting and floundering administration--but that they don’t have much hope of his doing so, at least not while he lives in denial of his own and his administration’s failings:
The place to begin is with Dick Cheney, the dark force behind many of the administration’s most disastrous policies, like the Iraq invasion and the stubborn resistance to energy conservation. Right now, the vice president is devoting himself to beating back Congressional legislation that would prohibit the torture of prisoners. This is truly a remarkable set of priorities: his former chief aide was indicted, Mr. Cheney’s back is against the wall, and he’s declared war on the Geneva Conventions.

Mr. Bush cannot fire Mr. Cheney, but he could do what other presidents have done to vice presidents: keep him too busy attending funerals and acting as the chairman of studies to do more harm. Mr. Bush would still have to turn his administration around, but it would at least send a signal to the nation and the world that he was in charge, and the next three years might not be as dreadful as they threaten to be right now.
Unfortunately, Cheney’s neutering doesn’t seem in the cards. Especially if Bush’s political adviser, Rove--who’s been snagged firmly in the evolving CIA leak scandal net--is forced to resign, lest his troubles further hurt the prez.

Right-wingers seem to have unintentionally done the Times a favor by attacking it for what they perceive (often through the most distorting of lenses) as its liberal bias. Evidently, members of the New York daily’s editorial staff have resolved that if they’re going to be bludgeoned no matter what they write about the current administration, they might as well say exactly what they (and so many others) think--in this case: If Bush can’t get his act together soon, then the United States is in deep shit.

READ MORE:Three More Years of Bush, a Plan for Cheney and the I-Word, Again,” by Tim Grieve (Salon); “President Cheney: His Office Really Does Run National Security,” by Daniel Benjamin (Slate); “One Nation, Two Presidents,” by Jim McDermott (The Huffington Post); “Cheney in the Bunker,” by Daniel Klaidman and Michael Isikoff (Newsweek); “Dubya-Cheney Ties Frayed by Scandal,” by Thomas M. DeFrank (New York Daily News); “Tortured Justifications” (Los Angeles Times); “¿Cómo Se Dice ‘Spin’?” by John Nichols (The Nation); “A Long Reversal of Fortune” (P.M. Carpenter’s Commentary); “George Bush’s View: It’s Not Torture If There Isn’t Organ Failure and Death,” by Steven C. Clemons (The Washington Note).

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