Bernard Weiner: Bush Heads for the Bunker
Bush Heads for the Bunker
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
Any hope that Bush&Co. might tack toward the center is gone. All signs points to more extremism in policy, more police-state tactics at home, more death and destruction abroad.
On what do I base this gloomy, but -- given the atrocious record of the Bush Administration over the past four years -- not surprising assessment?
FIRST CLUE: Bush declaring, with a straight face, that the election gave him a "mandate," and that "the American people" gave him a "broad, nationwide victory" and want him to complete the initiatives he begun in his first term.
That shouldn't have surprised us. After all, this is the guy who claimed a "mandate" in 2000, when he lost the popular vote and was installed in the White House by five conservative members of the Supreme Court.
This time, Bush claimed his razor-thin popular vote victory of 1% as his "mandate" -- even though in the 2004 vote, more people voted against a president than ever before in U.S. history, and even in many of the "red" states that he appears to have won, he barely eked out a majority. In short, the country gives evidence that it remains split right down the middle, mainly along the rural/big cities line. (As I write this, as a result of numerous statistical anomalies, recounts are ongoing in key states, and there are legal challenges to be dealt with.)
It's the same old delusion and denial. If Bush told the truth to himself, that half the American population voted against him, he'd have to take them into account when considering policy. But by pretending he has this "mandate" from a "broad, nationwide victory," it's to hell with the "losers" and full speed ahead.
THE PENTAGON CREW & A COLINECTOMY
SECOND CLUE: Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Feith are still employed. These, along with Cheney, are the neo-con ideologues driving our foreign/military policy. No matter that virtually every one of their theories has led to disastrous consequences and continues to do injury to the long-term national interests of the United States; those are Bush's boys and he's sticking with them.
THIRD CLUE: Colin Powell is gone, and Bush did not try to dissuade him from leaving. Even though in public Powell permitted himself to be used and abused by the White House, behind the scenes he led the battle against the worst of the neo-con madness. As the closest thing the Bush Administration had to a voice of reality-based moderation, he could have chosen to stay and fight; but, finally, he couldn't take any more, and the Colinectomy was performed.
FOURTH CLUE: Porter Goss, easily rollable by the White House, is the new head of the CIA. This guy's job is to bring the CIA under control and in the hip pocket of Bush&Co. Hence, the current purge of those deemed insufficiently supportive of Bush policy, and Goss' demanding of what amounts to "100% loyalty" oaths to The Leader from the remaining agents and officers of that agency. If you're not with us, you're against us.
THE TOADY TWINS: ALBERTO & CONDI
FIFTH CLUE: Alberto Gonzales, a longtime Bush toady, is nominated to succeed John Ashcroft as Attorney General. He's Ashcroft with a more pleasant demeanor, which makes him even more scary. He'll do whatever needs to be done to protect Bush from legal attack, and to expand his powers as close to dictatorship as can be arranged. (Gonzales as White House counsel developed the "legal" rationales to justify torture, and assertion of authoritarian powers by the "commander in chief" during "wartime." )
SIXTH CLUE: Condoleezza Rice is nominated to succeed Powell as Secretary of State. Stated as baldly as possible, she's an incompetent as National Security Advisor -- apparently in charge of nothing, since she constantly claimed to know nothing about what was going on in various scandal areas -- and a liar who may have committed perjury before the 9/11 Commission. As with Gonzales and Goss, she has no independent constituency and owes total fealty to her boss.
SEVENTH CLUE: Stephen Hadley will be taking over Condi's job as National Security Advisor. Hadley, another Bush loyalist, is Rice's deputy, who may have been involved in covering up various scandals, including "Niger uranium," pre-9/11 knowledge, and the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
EIGHTH CLUE: House majority leader Tom DeLay, who on Capitol Hill looks after the interests of Bush and his neo-con advisers, is being legally protected in his job should he be indicted by a grand jury for multiple crimes committed in Texas.
NINTH CLUE: With Gonzales moving to the Justice Department, thus protecting Bush&Co. business from that flank, Bush has appointed another Texas friend, Harriet Miers, to take Gonzales' job as White House Counsel, to protect Bush from that redoubt. She is another Bush loyalist, as is Margaret Spellings, another Texas crony who owes her career to Bush.
TENTH CLUE: Though Bush pretended to offer an olive branch of comity to the Democratic opposition ("I will reach out to every one who shares our goals"), what he really said was our way or the highway. The man who once claimed he wanted to be a uniter, not a divider, continues to drive his neo-con juggernaut over any and all those who oppose him.
TIGHT CIRCLE IN THE BUNKER
In short, what we have here is a retreat to the family bunker by the co-conspirators who make up Bush&Co.'s power-at-any-price family.
Outside his tight inner circle of toadies and fellow delusionists (Rove, Rummy, Wolfy, Perle, Cheney, Rice, Gonzales, Goss, DeLay, Hadley, et al.), Bush finds the world unfriendly, even hostile.
That's why he was so very uncomfortable during his first debate with Kerry. Bush insulates himself so tightly from the real world -- has no curiosity, doesn't read newspapers, surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men, doesn't want to run into anybody unvetted for loyalty to him -- that he appeared stunned, insulted, outraged that somebody had the temerity to attack his policies to his face and point out his gross errors of judgment.
So Bush's reshuffling of his Cabinet and top advisors is designed to insulate him even more from reality, and ensure that nobody, NOBODY, will question what is about to come down.
And what might that be?
MAKING WAR ON TERROR AND CITIZENS
There are no real secrets here either. In foreign policy, under the always-useful "war on terrorism" slogan, the neo-cons will re-emerge from the pre-election closet and start moving again to "alter the geopolitical map" of the oil-rich Middle East, bringing "democracy" and "free market capitalism" to many Arab countries, by suasion if possible ("shock & awe" threats), but by the bayonet and bomb if necessary.
The possibility of re-starting the military draft slots in here. Iraq will continue to be a running sore, but the Bush&Co. desire is still there to maintain a huge military presence in that country and to control the oil fields as long as possible. Israel/Palestine will get some attention, but a just and lasting peace is doubtful unless Bush were seriously to rein in Ariel Sharon, and that is not going to happen.
In domestic policy, under the always-useful "war on terrorism" justification, there will be even more crackdowns on dissent, including on the internet; moves to gain even tighter control over the judicial system through appointment of more HardRight judges and justices; more giveaways to logging and mining interests over environmental protections; further attempts to eat away at social entitlement programs like Head Start, Social Security, Medicare, by privatizing as much of it as possible, thus aiding corporate benefactors; making permanent the huge tax cuts for the wealthy; paving the way for the utter and complete destruction of the Democrats as a party of true opposition, and continuing to use the corrupted balloting and vote-counting system as a backup. The aim is at least another decade or two of HardRight, one-party rule.
Unless the Democrats can get their political strategy together, and devote the funds and energy necessary to build an infrastructure for success (including more think-tanks, media outlets, training of younger up-and-comers, etc.), there will be little in the way of stopping the Bush forces from those goals. (Unless, of course, Iraq totally collapses, and/or the scandals roiling just below the surface (9/11 pre-knowledge, CIA agent Valerie Plame's outing, the authorization of torture, Enron/Halliburton, Iraq incompetence, etc.) pop up and bite BushCheney&Co. in the new year.)
The situation can't be any more clear. We are in deep you-know-what and we're not going to be able to climb our way out unless we get ourselves organized properly (including the possible development of a viable, win-oriented third party if the Dems can't do it), come up with the creative tactics and strategies and candidates to create a true and effective opposition, and spend lots of money to build that oppositional infrastructure. (Hello, George Soros and Hollywood liberals! It ain't gonna happen without you.)
In short, how and whether we liberals/progressive/moderate-conservatives survive and grow as an effective opposition is up to us. Each of us.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government and international relations at various universities, was a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers ( www.crisispapers.org).