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W. David Jenkins III: The Conservative Meltdown

Now Playing! The Conservative Meltdown

By W. David Jenkins III

My, what a busy summer it’s been! I’ve been away for awhile enjoying time with the family and, during my travels; I’ve noticed something very odd happening out there. People are talking about Iraq instead of “American Idol.” They’re bitching about gas prices instead of bitching about the wrong person being “fired” by The Donald. There are more and more people expressing outrage about what they’re reading and seeing on the media rather than being outraged with the media itself. There seems to be a tsunami of buyer’s remorse sweeping over the land and the size and nature of this phenomenon prohibits the lazy media from engaging in their usual practice of ignoring what’s really going on.

Bush is scheduled to emerge from his western hidey hole soon and quite honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to extend his vacation just a bit longer. Really, who could blame him? Even with the controlled settings of his last two public appearances in Utah and Idaho , Bush came across as a guy who is just not well. After my time off, I’m feeling pretty rested and all but Bush looks and sounds tired, irritated, pale, thin and – well just plain sick. One might speculate that the bubble Bush’s people have tried to keep him in is beginning to burst and I’d think they’d be right. After all, it’s been a busy summer.

Bush’s poll numbers are so bad right now that you need the toilet plunger just to get a look at them. Richard Nixon at the height of Watergate had better numbers than Bush does right now. Bill Clinton’s numbers at the same point in his second term were going up – largely due to the public’s support of him during the obsessive right wing witch hunt. Maybe Bush should get himself an intern to help his numbers? Okay, sorry. That grossed me out too.

Bush can take some solace in the knowledge that he still has the support of his base but these folks seem to be losing it too. From the super-patriots in Texas firing shotguns and driving their pick ‘em up trucks over makeshift memorials to the war dead (Bush’s war dead) to the wacko right wing televangelists calling for the assassination of democratically elected leaders, Bush’s base is starting to cause the administration to “distance itself” from their most staunch supporters.

Then we have Ann Coulter calling New Yorkers “cowards,” Paul Harvey advocating nuclear war in the Middle East, Jerry Falwell supporting “bombing terrorists in the name of the Lord,” and RNC Chairman, Ken Melman, accusing Democrats of being the “party of fear!” If you listen real close, you can hear the sound of millions of foreheads being slapped in disbelief. Seriously, would you want to come out of hiding after a season of this kind of behavior done on your behalf in a crippled attempt to somehow defend you? And that’s not the worst of it.

There are turncoats in the Republican Party now. Bush must attack the credibility of his fellow conservatives in order to defend his failures. Viet Nam vet, Chuck Hagel, has come out and stated that Iraq is beginning to resemble Viet Nam on many levels. You have Trent Lott hawking his book while spilling the beans about pre Iraq invasion meetings with Bush and how predetermined he was to invade days after 9/11. There is also the nuisance of Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) and his determination to get to the bottom of what happened to Operation Able Danger. Then there’s Pat and Bay Buchanan blasting Bush on his Iraq policy while giving Cindy Sheehan a wink and a nod. Oh yes, what about that Sheehan woman?

In the tradition of Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Colleen Rowley, Sibel Edmonds, Bunnatine (Bunny) Greenhouse and other remarkable American women, Gold Star Mother, Cindy Sheehan, has done more to irritate the Bush status quo in her quest for honesty and accountability than anyone would have thought possible. What started as a personal desire for answers from the man responsible for the lies that led to her son’s murder, Sheehan’s vigil has blossomed into a national movement so enormous that the mainstream media was forced to take notice. What’s more, her steadfast nature and her visibility have brought out the absolute worst behavior of her detractors, otherwise known as the “patri-idiots.” You know - the Bush people.

Bush neighbor, Larry Mattlage, fired off his shotgun in the vicinity of the vigil because he was “getting ready for dove season.” Mattlage told reporters to “figure it out.” Aw, how positively clever, Larry.

Of course, we can’t forget Larry Northern of Waco (or is that Wacko) who felt the need to destroy over 500 crosses and 40 American flags which had been set up by Sheehan supporters as a makeshift memorial to American lives lost in Iraq. Really, exactly how does this translate into “patriotism?”

Then, right on cue, Rush Limbaugh states that the whole Sheehan saga just “isn’t real” and compares her to RatherGate’s Bill Burkett and then denies he said it the next day. Conservative crackpot, Michelle Malkin, wrote that Sheehan and her supporters were “anti-military, anti-American, terrorist sympathizing agitators” as if anyone with two brain cells to rub together actually took her seriously. Bill O’Reilly said that Sheehan’s behavior was “treasonous.”(Oh, shut up, Bill). Conservative radio host, Mark Williams, stated on Fox that “Cindy Sheehan is on a mission to figuratively urinate on her son's grave and make his death stand for nothing." And, finally, U.S. News & World Report senior writer Michael Barone claimed that the media is currently devoting substantial coverage to Sheehan because "many in the press ... do not want us to win this war and think that we don't deserve to win this war." And therein lies a large part of the problem Bush and Co. is experiencing; fewer and fewer Americans are buying the b.s. these days.

The polls show that most people believe Bush has lied about why we went to Iraq and they don’t support the way he’s handled the subsequent disaster his ideology has produced. Armor is still in short supply while the insurgency is anything but in its “last throes.” The completion of the Iraqi Constitution seems more and more like wishful thinking (not to mention the final draft isn’t what people thought it would be) while the violence in Afghanistan is creeping back into the headlines thus reminding Americans that Bush never finished the job there in the first place. People are tired of staying the course, whatever that means, and they’re tired of Bush constantly getting their hopes up.

Remember the months prior to the invasion? Americans were told that Iraq would be a “cake walk” and the oil revenues would pay for everything. When Baghdad fell in less than two months, Bush did his “mission accomplished” strut and everything was going to be okay. But people soon realized, even if Bush Co. didn’t, that the mission wasn’t accomplished and Americans and Iraqis were paying the ultimate price.

Then there were the string of events that would bring an end to hostilities or at least make things easier over there. The killings of Hussein’s sons, Hussein’s capture, the passing of sovereignty and the elections were all milestones which were supposed to fix everything. But they didn’t and in some cases things got even worse. Now Americans are supposed to believe that the Iraqi Constitution is going to be another “fix all” yet most of them aren’t buying it. And things aren’t helped when you have Safia Taleb al-Suhail (the purple fingered Iraqi woman who hugged the Marine mom at the State of the Union speech) who now worries that women’s rights in Iraq will be a thing of the past due to the influence of Islamic clerics in the draft of the Constitution.

Now, put all this together and throw in the following; Rove and Libby targeted in the CIA leak scandal, the Downing Street Documents, the revelation of Operation Able Danger, John Bolton botching things up at the U.N. already, Social Security reform falling flat on its face, the possible release of more pictures and videos from Abu Ghraib, the steady chipping away in Ohio which continues to expose Republican corruption in high places and to top it all off, Cindy Sheehan is not going away.

Just what is the worst president in the history of the United States supposed to do? How does he preserve any sense of legacy?

That’s simple. You send Karen Hughes to make America ’s image better in the eyes of the Arab States, you promote a “Freedom Walk” (do we really have to pay for that?) to celebrate (?) 9/11 and, just to make you feel better, you flip the press the one finger salute. And if that fails, simply stomp your feet and yell “stay the course.”

You know, it’s got to be tough being a Conservative these days.


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