Tide turns on Dubya's wreck
The Sydney Morning Herald
By Mike Carlton
April 22, 2006
SYDNEY, NSW, is a long way from Washington DC but, even at this distance, it is clear that the Bush Administration is falling to pieces.
In recent weeks, scanning the political coverage in the mainstream US media and sampling the blogs has been to watch a flood tide ebbing to reveal a rotting, skeletal hulk. It is the George W. Bush ship of fools, stuck in the mud for the world to see in all its mendacity, its incompetence, its faith-based stupidity.
It is possible, at this late stage, that even Bush himself has begun to realise something is wrong. That oddly simian face is ashen, the eyes leaden. The voice is shrill and its tone defensive.
"I'm the decider and I decide what's best," he squawked to reporters in the White House rose garden the other day, as the screws turned tighter on his disastrous Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. Can you imagine Roosevelt, Eisenhower or Kennedy blurting something like that?
Rummy is looking knackered too, with six retired generals going public to agree that he is "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically", to quote one of them.
These men would have been junior officers in Vietnam, veterans of the all-American nightmare they now see replicated in Iraq. They don't want the mad old warmonger doing it over again in Iran. As former Marine Corps Lieutenant-General Gregory Newbold wrote in Time magazine: "… we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it".
But the Middle East quicksands are not all that is killing Bush's presidency. Domestically, the rot is wide and deep. It is a budget deficit blowing out towards $US700 billion this financial year as Dubya juggles to fund his war while stealing from the American and immigrant poor to bestow tax cuts on the rich.
It is criminal sleaze in Washington, with the Republicans' favourite influence peddler, Jack Abramoff, headed for jail, and one of Bush's closest Texan buddies, the disgraced House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, not far behind him.
It is arrogant, Nixonian trampling of the law to order the wiretapping of American citizens and the leaking of national security secrets. It is the rape of the environment to enrich big business, especially big oil. And resonating with ordinary Americans most of all, it is the loss of the city of New Orleans - not by Hurricane Katrina but by the bottomless incompetence of the feds' post-apocalypse response.
This is a trash presidency, founded on lies and knavery, fraud and ignorant ideological crackpottery.
KARL ROVE is another faux-Texan wheeler-dealer sometimes described as Bush's brain, a courtier most often seen superglued to the presidential right ear. Pink and pudgy, he looks like one of Disney's three little pigs, although infinitely more smug.
Rove was shunted sideways this week in a shuffle of the White House deck chairs which also saw Dubya's press secretary lose his job. His new assignment will be to divert the Republican Party from the coming train wreck of the Congressional mid-term elections this November.
That will be crucial to the survival of this gang. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there would be a good chance of them moving to impeach Bush for high crimes and misdemeanours.
The famous Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein raised just that possibility in a recent article in Vanity Fair magazine. "We have never had a presidency in which the single unifying thread that flows through its major decision-making was incompetence stitched together with hubris and mendacity on a Nixonian scale," he wrote.
Exactly. Compared to this lot, Bill Clinton was John the Baptist.
THE next question is this: what will the Howard Government do when Bush and co decide to bomb Iran?
On past performance, Australia will be the kiddie on the sideline, panting to join the team: "Pick me, pick me." That, of course, is how we wangled our way into Iraq.
To quote the admirable US Marine Lieutenant-General Newbold again: "My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions - or bury the results."
As we have seen, John Howard and Lord Downer are terrific at casual swagger, although neither has ever heard a bullet go pffwt-pzzz through the rubber trees. Luckily, they have not had results to bury. But next time we might not be so easily conned. After the never-ever GST, children overboard, Iraq, WorkChoices, AWB and now Papua, Howard has lost public trust. The moment we hear him blather that no decision has been made for war, that everyone is working for a peaceful solution to the Iran crisis - that's when we know the SAS is already there.
When the shoulders go back, the chin goes up and the lower lip juts out, you know the Prime Minister is lying.