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Done With Bonaparte

By David Michael Green  Posted by David Michael Green (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message David Michael Green
We’ve seen this stuff before.

Caligula. Nero. George III. Louis XVI and his dear Marie. Wilhelm II (yes, he really did
say, “If only someone had told me beforehand that England would take up arms against

Now comes Bushleague II to remind us again why we’ve opted for a meritocratic
democracy over monarchical dynasties. The wrong son of the wrong family, he has proven
yet once more that genetics is a crap shoot. Sooner or later you’re gonna get a big
bummer of a king.

But there’s big, and then there’s big. In the past, these fools could only be expected to
liquidate people by the tens of millions. But in the nuclear era, the prospects for going
awry take on planetary proportions. Right on cue, Seymour Hersh is reporting on Bush
administration plans to nuke Iran.


Sometimes it’s just hard to know where to start with these guys. But then sometimes I’ve
also wondered if that wasn’t their very strategy: Grab the reins of power and blow the
doors off of everything all at once, leaving the hapless liberals scrambling to defend Social
Security, reproductive rights, the Supreme Court, civil rights, civil liberties, the environment
and a host of formerly sacrosanct foreign policy pillars, all at the same time.

Fortunately, there are some remaining vestiges of democracy in America, even after 25
years of bludgeoning by the New Right (aka, the old wrong). That means we still have a
prayer of surviving Bad King George and his court of sick jesters. And we’re even making

Wanna know how far we’ve come? Two quotes say it all. In the summer of 2002, the
Bush junta was at the apogee of its power. And arrogance. This was when Ron Suskind
interviewed an unnamed “senior advisor” to the king (my bet is Rasput... er, Rove), who
lectured the journalist and we other hapless members of “what we call the reality-based
community” thusly, correcting our foolish reliance on superfluous concepts like basing
solutions on the “judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really
works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And
while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other
new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's
actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Those lines are as jaw-droppingly, breathtakingly, fall-off-the-chairingly astonishing to read
today as they were the first time I laid eyes on them. But now they are a lot less
frightening. You see, there were two ways we could have gone from that moment. Down
one path, we survive, even retaining the constitutional gifts of the Founders with us. Down
the other, the imperial fabricators would have been powerful enough to prevail over reality
itself, and American democracy would have become just another chapter for the history
books. It was close, too (and we’re not even necessarily home yet). Had Iraq gone
swimmingly, the Creature from Crawford might have had carte blanche to dismantle the
remaining characteristics of this country which once made it a special place.

This could well be the supreme irony in all of history. Seriously. Think about it – it is not
only Iranians, Syrians, Cubans and Venezuelans who can thank their lucky stars for the
Iraqi resistence which has ground the American military machine down to near its breaking
point. It is not too much to say, as well, that these same fighters also saved American
democracy – for Bush’s success in Iraq would surely have meant democracy’s demise here
at home. Undoubtedly, Americans will never allow themselves to believe it, but losing in
Iraq may well have been the best thing that could have happened to them.

Of course, with three years remaining on the clock, and with an administration which has
already well proven its bona fides where a willingness to do anything to seize and maintain
power is concerned, we are far from saved. But that said, like Berlin in 1945, the circle is
rapidly closing around the White House and the movement of regressive politics it has led,
to the point where even the old rally-‘round-the-flag standbys seem unlikely to work
anymore. Sure they’re thinking of bombing Iran in October – of course they are! – but it’s
an open question as to whether that would scare away even more votes for America’s
Tories in the midterms than it would gain. Soccer moms, used to shuddering in doubt at
the capacity of Kerry and clones to provide security for their children, might just as likely
react to bombs over Tehran by instead shuddering in fear at what a three-war president
would mean for their children’s future. Just who is America’s real security threat – Iraq,
Iran or George W. Bush – might be a question which crossed many voters’ minds for the
first time. Even perennially inept Democrats could actually win an election that lopsided.

The measures of Bush’s demise are now manifest and multiple. The special prosecutor
has all but accused him of using secret intelligence to attack political enemies, and what
he used was cherry-picked and ultimately based on a known lie anyhow. It is now clear
that the guy who said, ‘nobody wants to get to the bottom of this leak case more than I do’,
was the very guy who was doing the leaking, and the political fall-out from that alone will
be severe. The Libby accusation may the most severe blow of all to an administration
which has already taken on Katrina-level quantities of water and is badly listing. Bush is
nothing without plain-spoken credibility and national security credentials. Nothing.
Nobody thinks the guy is smart. No one sees him as competent. Not many are nutty
enough to still buy his radical policies. And that whole regular-guy schtick has come to
wear pretty thin. Most Americans now ache palpably for somebody just a little less regular
than the guy serving them coffee at the local diner to be in charge of running the Free
World. Bush fooled enough gullible voters (and fabricated the rest) to push his sorry
carcass over the finish line in 2004 on the strength of the trust factor and security fears
alone. Take those away and the bonhomie turns to tedium, the tedium to contempt, the
contempt to fury.

But L’Affaire Libby is only the most flourescent sign of Bush’s demise. His poll numbers
just keep going further and further south. Former military brass are starting to come out
and savagely trash the administration’s security policy with the fury of wet cats. DeLay is
dead. Abramoff is cutting deals on the savage-looking near horizon. Our ambassador to
Iraq warns that we are near to plunging the entire Middle East into flames (No! You’re
kidding!). Aznar is history. Berlusconi is finished. Blair dangles, hated, by a thread.
Hardly a Latin American country has yet to turn its back on Washington, and those, like
Mexico, still on that short list are merely awaiting the elections necessary to ratify the
deed. Republicans running for Congress are avoiding Bush like the bubonic plague. In
the California district formerly represented by (soon to be dethroned) Republican king
felon Randy Cunningham, there are 14 elephants running for the now open seat, and all
but one of them have distanced themselves from Bush. Could you imagine even one
doing so in 2002? The list goes on and on. You might be thinking this could only get
better if a couple of administration figures were also recently arrested for commercial fraud
and soliciting sex with a minor over the Internet. Guess what?

But – speaking of distancing – I think the most telling bit of news yet came from this ABC
headline: “Lawyer: Bush Left Leak Details to Cheney”. It would appear from the story that
Bush is so badly rattled that he is now even distancing himself from Cheney. That is very,
very, rattled. Apart from the very real possibility that Bush could be left for some short
period of time trying to run a government with neither Cheney, Rumsfeld, Card nor Rove
at his side, there’s also the question of whether it’s terribly much in his interest to piss-off
ol’ Shotgun Dick. Somehow, I don’t see Cheney doing a Gordon Liddy, rotting away in
Leavenworth, waiting for his alleged heart to crap out, and silently taking the fall for the
hamster-in-chief (“I made you! You were nothing! I made you!”). I sure wouldn’t want
Darth Cheney on my case, and he doesn’t even know all my dark little secrets about bogus
war rationales and the outing of American spies (unless, of course, the NSA told him). For
Bush to be distancing himself from the Man from Hench can only be a sign of the most
amazing desperation. The visage of the formerly imperious Bush and Cheney at each
others’ throats reminds me of nothing so much as the evocative lyrics from Mark Knopfler’s
aptly named “Done With Bonaparte”, poignantly depicting the once-unstoppable
Napoleon’s now-pathetic retreat from Moscow:

And our Grande Arme'e is dressed in rags
A frozen starving beggar band
Like rats we steal each other's scraps
Fall to fighting hand to hand

Bush is in the toilet, and yet he is nowhere near his nadir yet. For a man with as many
personal demons as he has, it’s quite something to contemplate his having the darkest
days of his life as yet (but not too yet) to come. We can only hope that he takes us no
further along on that tragic ride than the sad distance we’ve already come. On that will
depend the courage of the public, the media and the leadership of the Democratic Party.
Scary, eh?

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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)
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