Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Great Unraveling of the Reign of Bush

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

-- George Walker Bush, January 20, 2001
For a while, it was good to be king.

Although he was born into privilege and had the advantages of access and wealth, George Bush had been a mediocrity at everything he did.

As a last resort, his father hired Karl Rove, an up and coming Republican operative, to tutor this smirking son of the oil patch on the nitty gritty of politics. Rove worked his magic, the son was elected governor of Texas and then as had the father himself, president of the United States -- if only by stealing an election.

It was so good to be king that when terrorists flew jetliners into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a farm field in western Pennsylvania eight months into his reign, there was a groundswell of support for him not seen in the land since the Pearl Harbor attack. While the younger Bush had play-acted being presidential, he had done nothing of substance since his inauguration, but that didn’t matter. The homeland was under siege and he was given a mandate akin to that granted FDR as America entered World War II.
It has been all downhill from there. And while the Great Unraveling of the Age of Bush should not be surprising when you understand the man, his motives, his handlers and their motives, the slow-motion collapse of his presidency has been extraordinary.

While running a big state like Texas certainly was not a cakewalk, George Bush was pretty much unprepared to run the U.S. But in a match made in Rovian heaven, he was surrounded by experienced helpmates such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle.

These men had three things in common: Enormous egos, a belief that they were God’s chosen leaders, and a worshipful embrace of neoconservatism. They had champed at the bit for eight long years while a most unregal Lothario by the name of William Jefferson Clinton blinded the citizenry to a cowardly foreign policy that had made a once strong America into a global laughingstock. The son of Arkansas trailer trash had accomplished this feat through doing stuff like reforming the welfare system, retiring the federal budget deficit and presiding over an unprecedented economic boom.

Like him or not (and he was reviled by the neocons and longtime Washington insiders alike), Clinton had substance and a keen intellect. The younger Bush, who was and remains notoriously uncurious about his realm and all that is beyond its shores, had neither attribute. He was an empty vessel and the neocons were going to fill it.

Into this empty vessel went the Bush Doctrine and other ingredients from the neocon laboratory. This stew was spiced with the dogma of a Christianist right wing well along on its crusade to tear down the Republican Big Tent, and stirred mightily by Rove, whose modest title of White House deputy chief of staff belied his powerful position as the president’s consigliere.

The Bush Doctrine was nothing less than a war cry with its emphasis on unilateral military pre-emption, overarching global superiority and a commitment to extending American-style democracy – at point of gun, if necessary. Diplomacy was out; bellicosity was the coin of the realm. All that the president’s advisors needed was a war and the 9/11 attacks were the perfect cover under which to start one.
But behind this neocon cum Christianist ascendancy lurked the demon spawn of political self perpetuation – accumulating and keeping power for its own sake – a gross perversion of the notion that power can be perpetuated, as FDR was able to do, through incisive leadership, an abiding respect for American values and by simply doing good.

It was the bad karma (how else to say it?) and certainly not bad luck or lucky Democrats that suffused this ascendancy that would eventually – and I believe inevitably – trigger the Great Unraveling.

Once unleashed, that demon spawn did what demon spawns do. It grew and spread from the Oval Office to the Justice Department to Defense and State -- and eventually insinuated itself into virtually every nook and cranny of the administration.

This contagion can be blamed in particular for the denouement of the neocons’ lust for war – the fundamentally deceitful, wretchedly planned and pitifully executed invasion and occupation of Iraq – a bloodbath that has become a sucking chest wound on the Bush presidency.

The demon spawn reared its ugly head in New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, in the stillborn nomination of a mediocrity by the name of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, in turf battles between the CIA, FBI and NSA, in attacks on habeas corpus and the other pillars of American jurisprudence, in the mockery of the separation of powers, in the blizzard of petulant presidential signing statements, in the obsession with secrecy, in the approval of torture and trashing of longstanding international covenants, in the yawning indifference to the environment and the growing gap between rich and poor, as well as in the ongoing U.S. attorney scandal, an undiluted example of politics over policy.

And perhaps most grotesquely, in the near collapse of the systems that care for physically and mentally wounded soldiers when they return to the king's realm from Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, the king and his court, the very people who endlessly exhorted us to support the troops and called traitors the people who opposed the Iraq war, betrayed the troops in battle and again when they returned home.

For a while, it was good to be king. But now George Bush has reaped the whirlwind.

He has abrogated his oath of office. He has failed to make good on any of his promises of significance. He has hastened the end of the long Republican hegemony in Washington. He has brought neoconservatism to its knees. He has lowered the U.S.’s standing in the world. And he has even betrayed a father who saw politics as a way to keep his misanthropic son out of further trouble. What a cruel joke has been played on the American people!

At least it won’t be terribly long until the king’s successor inherits the throne, as well as the god awful mess that George Walker Bush leaves behind when he flees back to the oil patch to await the harsh judgment of history.


Charles Amico said...

Shaun, do you think there are any intersections of the story of U.S. Attorney firings and the Jack Abramoff scandel and his offer to cooperate with U.S. Attorney's handling inquiries into suspected Congressmen shennanigans? Much silence on this over the past 6 months after Duke Cunningham found guilty. And this coincides with the timing of the firings.

The Truffle said...

I just hope that Dubya lives a long, long life. Heck, I hope his supporters in the GOP and the punditocracy live for a long, long time, so they can see exactly how history will judge them. And it. ain't. gonna. be. pretty.

cognitorex said...

Shaun ---You truly can write----beautifully---on point----this piece pleasure to read.---craig johnson

Anonymous said...

Oh, you write like a champ. Nothing mono-syllabic like those Rovian Neocons. Expressing your passionate dismissal of the "Dubya" in the most beautiful prose and poetry ever seen in an editorial. Too bad you're an idiot.
It is all opinion, the power of truthfulness bestowed on it simply by the way it is written. In all, your piece is just another rehash of the same old liberal cliches.