I 'm not a Dubya fan. I knew we were in trouble once he took a right turn at Tora Bora, ignoring the Afghan War at the behest of his handlers, and began building his false case for invading Iraq. This was the result of an uninterested, anti-intellectual, and easily manipulated president. A friend told me recently, "I 'll give you credit. You 've been on Bush 's tail since the day he invaded Iraq. Most of the press is just getting there now. " I consider that a compliment.
With approval ratings as low as 35%, hatred towards America across the world, scandal at the highest levels in both houses of Congress, widespread cronyism being unearthed daily, financial corruption and war profiteering, a top official indicted (with possibly more to come) and a vice-president careening out of control, this presidency is in a weaker position today than ever. The lies simply aren 't selling anymore.
Initial rumbles of presidential instability came from unreliable sources, like supermarket tabloids. The drumbeat has continued, and is moving up the food chain to more respectable news sources. David Remnick wrote in the New Yorker, "The Daily News ...published a story portraying the president as frustrated and enraged, a 'peevish and melancholy ' tenant of the Oval Office lashing out at everyone around him ... 'No one ...was safe from Bush 's rages ' ... 'The only person escaping blame, ' said one source ... 'is the president himself. ' "
The situation is far too serious to gloat over Bush 's predicament. With three years remaining for an incompetent and beleaguered administration, we should be asking what, if anything, can be done to resurrect our international reputation and alliances, before irreparable damage is done to the country.
For starters, he needs to extricate himself from the influences of two of his main advisors. While not indicted yet, Karl Rove has become a millstone around the President 's neck. Jim VanderHei and Carol Leonnig wrote in the Washington Post, "Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove ...Bush 's top advisors are considering whether it is tenable for Rove to remain on the staff, given that Fitzgerald has already documented something that Rove and the White House ...emphatically denied. "
Cheney is even more of a problem for the president. Everyone knows that Cheney ran this White House from the outset. The insanity of Bush 's saying "We don 't use torture, " at the very time Cheney is working to institutionalize torture, while Bush threatens to veto a bill that outlaws torture, is mind-boggling. No V.P. in history has enjoyed the power that Cheney has ...which is also an indictment of Bush 's lack of interest in both policy and detail. Despite innumerable brush cutting and bike riding photo-ops, this president has displayed little appetite for the hard work his job requires.
If Mr. Bush is to recover, he needs to dump Rove, whose dirty fingerprints are everywhere. He probably can 't dump Cheney, but could encourage him to resign due to "health issues, " or at the very least decommission him, relegating him to figurehead duties like state funerals, etc.
Cheney is running amok and clearly out of sync with most of the politicians in his own party. His fanatical insistence on legalizing torture in America has placed him at odds with his own senators, who voted 90-9 with John McCain, for eliminating torture at any level of American policy. Having spent five years at the Hanoi Hilton as a P.O.W., McCain 's opinion carries more water on this subject than that of a man who sought and received multiple deferments during a war.
Here 's where Mr. Bush could change direction, and behave like a true president, rather than a front man for Cheney: Instead of threatening to veto the military appropriations bill, as he has (he hasn 't vetoed one spending bill in five years) Bush could regain ground by agreeing with McCain and 90% of the Senate to clearly forbid torture in this democratic country, and then telling Cheney to shut up, because he, Bush, is running the show.
If this president has the courage to change course, to admit he 's made serious mistakes, and redirect his administration away from the radical conservative policies which the rest of the world (and finally our own country now sees as extreme) and if he then moderates his approach over the next three years--- he has a chance of restoring respect for his presidency.
Here 's a thought: How about taking one year 's worth of his proposed five-year tax cut of $78.1 billion for the nation 's richest 1%, and using that money to help the earthquake victims of Pakistan? Without immediate assistance they are facing certain death, as winter closes in.
That $15 billion would show the world what America is about, and help us to rediscover ourselves in the process.
This president has to change something big time---and quickly.