In this, I am reminded of the behavior of Richard Nixon when he realized that he was fast losing his middle-class Republican, bourgeois base: He called it quits on the Vietnam War, and likewise on his presidency after his crimes were exposed.
But unlike Nixon's crew, Bush&Co. seem willing to take the country down with them, so desperate are they to hold onto power, deplete the treasury, pay off their corporate friends, carry out their ideological revolution -- and keep themselves out of the federal slammer.
The crimes of the Bush Administration are so many and varied that none of us should be surprised by anything that might happen in the coming weeks and months: Bin Laden captured or reported killed, a U.S.-Israeli air assault on Iran's nuclear facilities, a major terrorist attack inside the U.S. to be followed by martial law, the announcement of a bird-flu outbreak with the military placed in charge. I'm pretty level-headed and don't usually think in these dire terms, but these guys have backed themselves into a tight political corner and are desperate -- and dangerous.
THE IMPLODING SCANDALS
Bush is at 34% approval rating (Cheney is at 18!), and their scandals are blowing up in their faces: Katrina lies and incompetence; Iraq lies and incompetence; the Dubai Ports deal and incompetence; GOP bribery and corruption; Libby under indictment and Rove apparently about to be; Bush claiming authority to authorize torture, spy on millions of American citizens and violate the law whenever he incants the magic words "national security"; Congress rebelling at being frozen out of decision-making, etc. etc. But in the face of all that, the Roveian M.O. is always to attack their foes and to hype the fright quotient.
The Administration didn't have to consider the most extreme options until recently, when the wheels started falling off the Bush bus. The attacks were no longer coming mostly from liberals and Democrats; more and more, they were coming from loyal conservative Republicans, who, cognizant of the sinking poll numbers, saw the handwriting on the wall: They realized they could well lose their majorities in the House and Senate -- in other words, severed from their jobs and access to the spoils of power -- and they started distancing themselves from the Administration.
So, rather than beating my usual drum here denouncing the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush Administration, I thought I'd just lay out the comments of those conservatives and let them speak for themselves. (My late friend Emile de Antonio, the documentary filmmaker, taught me a good lesson; it's always better, he pointed out, to quote what the Wall Street Journal is saying rather than quoting a hippie or left-activist making the same point. When your own posse smells the moral rot up top, the end is near.)
The quotes here are on Iraq and the neo-con ideologues who took this country to war, though currently the flak is also coming hot and heavy from the Right on both the domestic spying and Dubai ports scandals. (Even conservative Republican Senator Richard Shelby says Bush broke the law in the way he handled the Dubai ports contract, ) ( www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/index.ssf?/base/news/1141381481204040.xml&coll=2 ), and neo-con leader Bill Kristol ( http://thinkprogress.org/2006/03/05/conservatives-believe-administration-incompetent ) suggests the other "i" word ("incompetent") in describing how Bush&Co. stumble around trying to govern: "I think it 's become in people 's minds an emblem of the administration that just isn 't as serious about the competent execution of the functions of government as it should be."
THE NEO-CONS BEHIND THE WAR
Let's begin with a reminder that the conservative establishment didn't agree from the very beginning with Bush's neo-con obsession to invade Iraq. President George H.W. Bush, who successfully organized a massive coalition to push Iraq's army out of Kuwait in the first Gulf War, warned his son privately and through his spokesmen of the dangerous consequences both of invading and occupying Iraq and of doing so without wide international support. As he said of Iraq in "A World Transformed" (written with Gen. Brent Scowcroft): "Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different -- and perhaps barren -- outcome."
Fast forward to the present, when so many Republican stalwarts are saying, in effect, that they backed the wrong horse. Their party was taken over by rightwing extremists, incompetent at that, whose reckless neo-con policies are doing great danger to the country and to the future of the once-great GOP. Here's Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, ( www.americanpolitics.com/20060301MPF.html ) chair of the Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation, going even beyond the war into the deeper crimes being committed against Americans' freedoms:
>>"Most Americans do not yet realize that a war is being waged -- not against Iraq but against each of us. It is not the Republican Party that is charge in this administration but a small cadre who seized executive branch power and converted it to their own uses. Most Republicans are experiencing a deer-in-the-headlights moment right now. Their Party has been hijacked, their president has been hijacked, and they do not know what to do. I remain a registered Republican working for an effective coalition. The attack on us and on our rights has hardly begun. You don't go to the trouble of setting up this degree of control without having made plans to use it."
NEO-CON FUKUYAMA HAS SECOND THOUGHTS
Or try this out. Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the 1992 neo-con best-seller "The End of History," is exhibiting some serious recantation ( http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=266122006 ) these days in interviews and in his new book, "America at the Crossroads."
He now says that neo-conservatism has "evolved into something I can no longer support," and should be tossed onto history's pile of discredited ideologies. The doctrine, which has demonstrated "the danger of good intentions carried to extremes...is now in shambles," and needs to be replaced by a more realistic foreign policy.