Inside Bush's Diary: Lame Ducks & Lame Dems
Inside Bush's Diary: Lame Ducks & Lame Dems
By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
These final months are not fun. The economy is a disaster. My ratings have sunk even deeper into the toilet. Congress, sensing my lame-duck weakness, has started over-riding my vetoes. Republican candidates are staying away from me like I'm toxic waste. The Democrats are licking their lips, already tasting victory in November.
(But, lucky for us, the Democrat leaders are still wimps and aren't really coming after us in the White House. Karl was right: Make the Democrats complicit in the Iraq War and on domestic spying and on tax-cuts, economic bailouts, etc; with the Dems locked into our policies, at least tangentially, on those issues, they won't dare come at us frontally or they'll go down along with us. I love the beltway!)
There's not much for me to do around here, so mostly I'm just officiating at numerous ceremonial events, using the bully pulpit on occasion, and traveling around the globe saying my goodbyes. Most of the world leaders seem to be tolerating me, but with no great warmth, almost as if they're happy I'm departing the scene. Can that really be true?
The Vice President continues to more or less run the show, with his CoC Addington doing the heavy lifting and providing the ideological underpinnings. In short, Dick's got himself an even-better Libby. Cheney seems to have every neo-con in Washington on his staff or under his control -- what an operation! (The GOP may pay a price in November for my having commuted Libby's sentence, but it was important that he not go to prison so that all our closest former advisers, especially Alberto, would get the message: Keep your mouth shut and, if it comes to that, we'll take care of you with a full pardon.)
Mukasey is, like his A.G. predecessor, a good little lap dog. He knows what he was appointed to do: Make sure nobody even gets close to putting us in the federal slammer for what we've done, or makes us liable for "war crimes" prosecutions in The Hague.
So the name of the game now is delay, delay, delay, drag out any possible hope for full congressional investigations of our activities, even if the Dems were to be so inclined. So we make sure our guys don't show up to testify before their committees, or don't submit the subpoenaed documents, or we claim "executive privilege," or file endless briefs in court to postpone decisions, etc. Such delaying tactics, obvious to the public or not, do work.
THANKS BE TO KARL
The Democrat leaders are pissed off that we're thumbing our noses at them and not giving them many openings to attack us, but they're just not willing to take any decisive action against us, even when they hold our folks in "contempt of Congress." I mean, the Dems could, if they wanted to, just order their Sergeants of Arms from the House and Senate to compel appearances before the hearing committees and production of the incriminating documents -- and if our guys don't comply, arrest them. Instead, we'll just slide on through to January 20, home free. It's all political theater. I love American politics!
And -- thank you, Karl! -- we made sure to have our guy sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the D.C. district, and he simply won't bring any "contempt" charges before a grand jury or permit any effective legal action to be taken against any of us. Is this a great country, or what?
Of course, having gotten rid of less-than-"loyal-Bushie" U.S. Attorneys and replacing them with reliable substitutes, Karl remains in grave legal jeopardy. Along with his involvement in, how shall we say, some "irregularities" in the counting of votes. But here, too, I think we can delay and delay to keep any resolution of the legal matters in limbo. If, despite our best efforts, it looks bad for Karl prior to when I leave office, I'll pre-emptively blanket-pardon him and whoever else looks vulnerable "for any crimes they may or may not have committed." Don't see why this should present a problem: My dad did it to get Iran-Contra figures off the hook -- most notably Sec. of Defense Cap Weinberger -- before they were indicted, so why not?
PLAYING THE ELECTION GAME
Meanwhile, the general election campaign is well under way, even months before the conventions ratify the candidates. It doesn't look good for our side: Republicans are simply unpopular, no getting around that fact, and Obama is an attractive, energized candidate with Big Ideas (on the economy, on global warming, on foreign policy, etc.) running against a guy who's flip-flopping on the major issues like a fish out of water. No wonder our fundamentalist base is suspicious of him. Plus, diary, I really wonder about McCain's age; I've met him on numerous occasions and sometimes he reminds me of Ronald Reagan in his later years, when his brain-engine wasn't firing on all cylinders, if you get my drift.
Just one example: The other day, he attacked Social Security -- not just how that popular program is run but the whole idea for its existence -- as if he was arguing against its passage in 1935! In addition, McCain doesn't seem to have a clue how to stop the American economy from tumbling over the recessionary cliff -- neither do any of the rest of us, for that matter, so I don't blame him too much. Too many negatives are coming to a head at the same time: the mortgage mess, the credit crunch, the price of gas, the banks failing, too much built-in debt, the humongous costs of the War on Terror, etc. Gotta find some way to blame it all on Bill Clinton.
Right now, it looks like it's Obama's race to lose, but Karl and his followers are hard at work trying to alter the odds: removing hundreds of thousands of likely Democrat voters from the rolls in key states, contacting our friends who control the vote-counting software for a little extra hand up, getting Swiftboat-type PACs set up to question Obama's patriotism, experience, character, even his religious identity -- and, of course, to remind a lot of voters, especially in the Old South, that you just can't trust those people. You know what I mean, diary, and so do a lot of those voters even if we have to speak in code.
We also have to constantly "catapult" the idea (in subtle ways, of course) that all the Islams are a more or less monolithic race, to be suspected of evil intent, and that the U.S. is engaged in a holy "crusade" -- I can say that openly to you, diary! -- to save Western, Judeo-Christian civilization. In short, all Muslims are potential terrorists. Keep the citizenry frightened. And tie Obama (keep pounding the "secret Muslim" idea) into that fear as well.
Karl figures that with our control of the major mass-media outlets, and with all the Swiftboat-type PACs out there, we have a shot at painting Obama into a non-electable corner. We control the framing and the mass-media parrots the message, no matter how much we stretch the facts. It's worked virtually every time we try it, so I say go for it big time for this election.
RUMINATING ON LEGACY
the negative aspects accompanying our rule, there are a lot
of potential positives. The election is only four months
away, and a lot can happen in the interim. There just might
be a terrorist attack -- who knows? -- which could drive
more voters our way. Or an attack on Iran might have to be
launched, and it would be rally-'round-the-flag time. Or we
can defang the Iraq War as an issue by withdrawing tens of
thousands of U.S. troops before the November election -- you
know, make it seem like the beginning of the end -- and then
put them back into Iraq after the election.
I've been thinking a lot about my legacy. I used to believe that maybe I could finesse a way of looking good on the global warming issue, but, even if I had wanted to do something positive in the past eight years, that train long ago left the station. (Damn Al Gore!) No, it seems clear to me that the only hope I've got for a positive legacy is if I can pull a rabbit out of the hat in the Greater Middle East: Maybe get something positive out of Iran. Maybe work a deal with Syria. Maybe something we can point to as "peace" between the Israelis and Palestinians or some milestone that we can call a "victory" in Iraq and start (or at least appear to be starting) to pull our forces out of there.
We might even be able to massage Maliki's endorsement of Obama's 16-month timetable so that it redounds to our favor: We could have McCain say something like: "The surge, which I was for and Obama was against, has worked so well that our victory allows us to speed up bringing the boys home" -- that sort of thing. Of course, the goal here is not really to bring the troops home but to arrange for us to stay there in some military strength for decades, using Iraq as our base of operations for changing the geopolitical map of the Greater Middle East. But, as I say, we can rework the arrangement after the November election.
I know all this is a gamble, though. In the short term we're probably not going to get more pro-American, capitalist democracies in the region. But maybe history will prove my policies correct in the long term and, like Truman, I'll look better from a few decades out. At this stage, I'll take whatever I can get.
Besides, there's an upside to all the chaos and catastrophe we're leaving in our wake for the next president, both domestically and abroad: Even if he wants to make radical changes in direction, we will have made sure he's hogtied to current policies and thus might well fail, making it easier for a GOP comeback in 2010 and 2012.
Still, I figure if Dick and I can get out of Washington in January without being impeached, indicted, or further humiliated, I'll count that as a big success and, at the very least, a good start on my legacy.
Bernard Weiner, a poet, playwright and Ph.D. in government & international relations, has peeked into a good many politicians' diaries; he has taught at various universities in California and Washington, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for two decades, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). T o comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.