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You would not want to be George W. Bush right now

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  • Rick Stevens
    George Bush in Hell by David Michael Green Source http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0927-22.htm You would not want to be George W. Bush right now. Not that
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2005
      George Bush in Hell
      by David Michael Green

      Source >

      You would not want to be George W. Bush right now.

      Not that you ever would anyhow, but especially not
      now. Indeed, there are indications that not even
      George W. Bush wants to be George W. Bush right now.

      That second term in office, the one that just a year
      or two ago seemed so precious that he was willing to
      launch a war just to obtain it, now feels like a life
      sentence. Plans for four years spending political
      capital now look a lot more like endless months of
      capital punishment.

      The Bush Administration has nowhere to go but down,
      and that is precisely where it is headed. Poll data
      show that even members of his
      solid-to-the-point-of-twelve-step-eligibility base are
      now deserting him as his job approval ratings plunge
      like so much Enron stock, lately crashing southward
      through the forty percent threshold. With almost his
      entire second term still in front of him, Bush is
      poised to set new records for presidential
      unpopularity. That scraping noise you hear? It's the
      sound of sheepish voters creeping out to the garage
      late at night, furtively removing "Bush-Cheney 2004"
      bumperstickers from the back of their SUVs when no one
      is looking.

      Meanwhile, as the scales fall from the eyes of the hoi
      polloi, even the one constituency which could
      plausibly make the claim that Bush has been good for
      America (read: their wallets), is speaking the
      unspeakable as well. Robert Novak, of all people,
      wrote a column last week chronicling his experience
      watching rich Republicans at an Aspen retreat bash the
      idiocy of Bush administration policies on Iraq,
      Hurricane Katrina, stem-cell research and more.
      Perhaps these folks realized when they saw Trent
      Lott's house go under that Mother Nature doesn't care
      whether you're rich and well-connected any more than
      does al Qaeda. You may be on Karl Rove's Rolodex, but
      now Bush is taking you down and your yacht too, not
      just forgotten kids from the ghetto who enlisted in
      the Army as the only alternative to a life of poverty.

      Even conservative columnists like David Brooks (though
      not Novak) are writing articles nowadays accurately
      describing the changed mood of the American public.
      Where those powerful currents are heading is unclear,
      but given the radical right experiment of the present
      as their point of departure, there would seem to be
      only two choices. We can either go completely off the
      deep-end and finally constitute the Fascist Republic
      of Cheney, or we can turn to the left, toward some
      semblance of rational policymaking. The latter seems
      far more likely, especially as America increasingly
      regains its senses after a long bout of temporary
      insanity. These are bad bits of news for poor George,
      but worse yet is that they are only the first signs of
      the coming apocalypse. The real fun stuff is just
      around the corner. I'll confess to more than a little
      schadenfreude as I contemplate the ugly situation
      staring Republicans officeholders in the face right
      now. They are tethered to a sinking ship, and have
      only two lousy options to choose from as November 2006
      approaches. One is to stay the course and drown. The
      other is to start renouncing Bush and his policies,
      appear to voters as the complete hypocrites and
      political whores many will prove to be, and then still
      drown anyhow. Nobody could be more deserving of such a
      fate, with the possible exception of Democrats like
      Hillary Clinton and John Kerry who have been even more
      hypocritical yet in facilitating many of the
      president's disastrous policies.

      Watching these GOP opportunists jump ship will
      certainly be fun, but the greatest fun awaits the
      president himself. Bush has now lost everything that
      once sustained him. That includes 9/11, now safely in
      the rearview mirror for most Americans. That includes
      his wartime rally-around-the-flag free pass, as he has
      failed to capture America's real enemy, while lying
      about bogus ones to justify an invasion pinning our
      defense forces down in an endless quagmire. That
      includes, post-Katrina, the ridiculous frame of Bush
      as competent leader, and the former reality of the
      press as frightened presidential waterboys.

      And that's the good news for W. The bad news is all
      the chickens coming home to roost. The economy is
      anemic and fragile, and yet Bush has played the one
      card in his deck ostensibly (but never really)
      intended to remedy the country's economic woes.
      (Remember during the 2000 campaign when times were
      flush and tax cuts were the prescription? Remember in
      2001 when the economy was in a recession and tax cuts
      were still the prescription?). In any case, Bush's
      one-note economic symphony has succeeded in producing
      precisely the cacophony of disaster that progressive
      commentators have predicted all along: massive
      deficits, little or no economic boost, a hemorrhaging
      of jobs overseas, and a vastly more polarized America
      of rich, poor and a disappearing middle class.

      Another angry chicken, of course, is coming home in
      the form of devastating storms and a grossly
      incompetent administration to deal with them. Bush is
      not entirely responsible for Hurricanes Katrina or
      Rita, of course, but he is partially responsible for
      them by his willful ignorance of the global warming
      issue. And he is more than a little responsible for
      the carnage and damage done, because of his
      budget-slashing on preventative structural projects,
      because of his deployment of needed-at-home Guard
      forces to Iraq, because of his staffing of the
      government with completely incompetent crony hacks,
      and because of his and their astonishingly lame
      performance in responding to a known crisis. Where I
      come from, a president who remains on vacation during
      possibly the worst natural disaster to hit this
      country, praises his FEMA chief for doing a "heckuva
      job" when the guy doesn't know what any American with
      a TV set has known for 24 hours about New Orleans, and
      then later fires him for poor performance, is a
      president who should be impeached for those reasons

      The other demons awaiting George W. Bush just around
      the bend are multiple and grim. One of these days
      (right?), Patrick Fitzgerald is actually going to move
      on the Treasongate story, and signs suggest that
      multiple heads will roll within the White House. The
      political damage will be even worse than the legal,
      though, as Bush's clean and patriotic image will be
      smashed beyond repair, as no one will believe that he
      himself didn't know all along who committed treason by
      outing an American spy, and as he will likely lose the
      key magicians who have kept him afloat for five years
      and more. Oh well. W's loss will be Leavenworth's

      And there is more. The Jack Abramoff investigation has
      now been tied to the White House. There are also
      presumably an infinite number of other scandals
      waiting to explode (can you say 'Halliburton'?) should
      the Democrats capture either branch of Congress next
      year, not least of which being those concerning the
      Downing Street Memo revelations. Gas prices are off
      the charts and home heating bills are supposed to soar
      this winter. Jobs are disappearing, along with
      pensions and healthcare coverage, inflation is likely
      to rise, and voters are surly already.

      But, of course, the biggest cross for Bush to bear is
      the one he built for himself, and thus the most richly
      deserved. In Iraq, simply put, there are no good
      options. None for America, that is, but even fewer for
      George W. Bush.

      What can he do?

      He can't win. America (or, more accurately, America's
      oligarchy) is clearly losing the war as it is. It is a
      fantasy to imagine that, at this late date, more
      troops could pacify the resistance. But even if that
      were so the political consequences to Bush, especially
      given his promise of no draft on his watch, would be
      devastating and rapid. American public opinion has
      already turned decisively against the war. Imagine if
      there were a draft and all the bumper-sticker patriots
      across the land had to actually make a sacrifice for
      their president's transparent lies. All hell would
      break loose, and the Republican Party would be dead
      for a generation.

      He can't lose. The major downside to wrapping yourself
      in the flag, landing on aircraft carriers, labeling
      yourself a "war president", and being marketed in an
      election campaign as the reliable national security
      choice is that you had better deliver. Egged on by the
      likes of Cheney, Wolfowitz and Perle, Bush no doubt
      thought Iraq would be a fine little walk in the park
      from which he would benefit politically for the rest
      of his presidency. (Nor, assuming this president
      possesses anything resembling a conscience, need he
      have concerned himself with resulting deaths, since he
      told Pat Robertson "we're not going to have any
      casualties", and he may have even believed it.)
      Unfortunately for all concerned - most especially the
      Iraqis and American soldiers - Bush's presidency would
      be one very real casualty indeed should he decide to
      pick up his marbles and leave the arena, and so he
      will not, no matter the carnage or the futility. Doing
      so would be effectively admitting that there was no
      legitimate reason for the war in the first place.
      Everyone now knows that, of course, but were Bush ever
      to even hint at it, he would be committing instant
      political suicide. He can't draw. One option is to
      find some - any - kind of stability, declare victory
      and go home, saying we got Saddam, we brought
      democracy, yada, yada, yada. But how many Americans
      are now going to be fooled by calling an Iraq ruled by
      militants of one stripe or another a victory, after
      all the hooey about fighting for democracy in the
      Middle East? How many think replacing Saddam with a
      brutal dictator of another name is worth the price of
      2,000 American troops and two or three hundred billion
      dollars? How many will be convinced that Iraqi women
      having fewer rights than they did under Saddam
      Hussein, of all regimes, represents a win for the home
      team? How many will still be unschooled enough to look
      at a Iranian-dominated theocracy in Iraq and call that
      a triumph? Moreover, even these total disasters
      presume a stability of some sort which may be little
      short of fantasy at this point. When the Saudi foreign
      minister goes public with his concerns that Iraq is
      careening toward civil war, you know you're in deep,
      and no amount inanities sanctimoniously uttered by
      Scotty McClellan can keep the truth at bay.

      He can't get help. Now there's a good one. Maybe the
      French have finally seen the light and realized what a
      mistake they made by not bringing something to the
      party in 2003, eh? No doubt there's a long queue of
      countries behind them wanting to commit forces to the
      farces that are decomposing in the Cradle of
      Civilization. Luckily for George Bush you can still
      thumb your nose at the rest of the world and have them
      come to your rescue afterwards. Just think of what a
      pickle he would be in if that weren't the case...

      He can't divert attention. Time was, a government in
      trouble at home could throw a little war in some
      hell-hole abroad and divert public attention away from
      their domestic or other foreign failures. Kinda like
      Reagan in Grenada, or the Argentinians in the
      Malvinas, or Thatcher in the Falklands. Yet, while the
      American public has managed to massively and
      repeatedly disappoint still sane observers in recent
      years, it doesn't appear to be in any mood for more of
      Mr. Bush's Fun With Foreign Policy antics. Not that
      the country any longer has the available military
      force to pull it off anyhow, but it hardly seems that
      an invasion of Iran right now would have much effect
      diverting attention from Iraq, even if it could
      somehow successfully be done, another fantasy in its
      own right.

      In short, George W. Bush is toast, as is the whole
      regressive conservative movement of which he is but
      the most egregious exemplar. Not even another 9/11
      would be likely to help him, as the security president
      who fails to provide security is the nothing (but
      simply failed) president. The demise of the right is
      now likely be true even if Democrats continue hurtling
      down their current path toward breaking all world
      records for political cowardice by a major party.
      Indeed, the worst of the Democrats may now also be in
      trouble amongst the base - as well they should be -
      for their cozy associations with the right, enabling
      its destructive march to the sea these last years.

      It is thus too bad, as we emerge from the nightmare of
      the last quarter-century, that so many of us lefties
      are atheists, agnostics or otherwise debauched secular
      humanists. Not only have we had to suffer the reign of
      Bad King George here on Earth, we can't even have the
      satisfaction of knowing that he'll be spending the
      rest of eternity rotting in Hell.

      The good news, though, is that he's already there, and
      the flames are only beginning to warm him up. Perhaps
      that is why Time describes the dry heaves of a young
      staffer who had to breach the fantasy bubble and tell
      this "cold and snappish" president the unhappy truth
      about an issue, or the National Enquirer's report that
      Bush, who according to a family member is "falling
      apart", is back to drinking.

      Thus does a new possible ending to the Bush
      administration suddenly emerge as a real possibility.
      Previously, I had assumed that our long national
      nightmare would be over in one of three ways, either
      with Bush somehow managing to finish his term, with
      him being impeached, convicted and run out of
      Washington, or with him being impeached, convicted and
      then refusing to leave, precipitating a constitutional
      crisis and even, possibly, a civil war. Now I see a
      fourth very real possibility.

      It was all fun and games when everybody loved him.
      When the guy who had failed at everything in life
      except having the right last name all of a sudden was
      showing those elitist snobs who was tops after all.
      When the man with a Texas size inferiority complex got
      to be adored by millions as if he were some kind of
      religious icon.

      But what if that all changes? What if Diminutive
      George, just like LBJ before him, can't leave the
      completely scripted bubble his staff manufactures,
      just as such set-pieces become increasingly difficult
      to sustain? What if the Peevish President can't escape
      - even by going to Crawford or Camp David - the
      mothers of dead children, the baby-killer taunts, the
      stinging-because-they're-so-accurate chickenhawk
      accusations, the calls for his own daughters to go to
      Iraq, the possibility that everyone was right about
      him all along when they dismissed him as the family
      clown? What if all of a sudden, it sucks being
      president? Why bother, then?

      It is clear now that one way the Bush administration
      might end would be with the president's resignation,
      in order for him to duck into more tranquil quarters.
      Who knows, maybe he could spend his days getting
      tanked in Crawford, not writing another book, or going
      into exile, perhaps in the south of France.

      Of course, a pardon deal would have to be prearranged
      with Cheney, if they haven't convicted him yet, or
      with Hastert if they have. And, equally certainly, the
      resignation would be put down to "the president
      wanting to spend more time with his family", or some
      such ludicrous McClellanism, no more or less plausible
      than the rest of his daily fare. But the truth would
      be plain for all to see. The frat-boy party-time
      president who condemns kids less than half his age to
      the hell of futile battle in support of his lies would
      himself be deserting as commander-in-chief when the
      fun part ended. Kinda like he did last time he wore a

      History, it would seem, all too rarely delivers
      justice. The privileged few go out of this life richer
      than they came into it, while the poor often leave
      even poorer, not to mention sooner. Those who commit
      unspeakable crimes sometimes become presidents or
      prime ministers, while those who dare speak truthfully
      of those deeds are crushed owing to the threat posed
      by their honesty.

      Even more rare yet are the cases in which history
      delivers justice with a deliciously deserved irony.
      But George Bush has provided us with just such a case.
      And the very delicious irony is that he is now being
      undone by a cynical choice he himself made to go to
      war in Iraq with other people's blood and other
      people's treasure, for the purpose of enhancing his
      tenuous self-esteem and the power of his presidency.

      Goodbye, George. May you know precisely the rest and
      precisely the peace someone who would do such a thing

      David Michael Green is a professor of political
      science at Hofstra University in New York. Email:

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