Image Courtesy of Democratic Underground
By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, "The Crisis Papers."
November 23, 2004
Any hope that Bush & Co. might tack toward the center is gone. All signs
points to more extremism in policy, more police-state tactics at home, more
death and destruction abroad.
On what do I base this gloomy, but - given the atrocious record of the Bush
Administration over the past four years - not surprising assessment?
FIRST CLUE: Bush declaring, with a straight face, that the election gave him
a "mandate," and that "the American people" gave him a "broad, nationwide
victory" and want him to complete the initiatives he begun in his first
term. That shouldn't have surprised us. After all, this is the guy who
claimed a mandate in 2000, when he lost the popular vote and was installed
in the White House by five conservative members of the Supreme Court.
This time, Bush claimed his razor-thin popular vote victory of 1% as his
"mandate" - even though in the 2004 vote, more people voted against a
president than ever before in U.S. history, and even in many of the "red"
states that he appears to have won, he barely eked out a majority. In short,
the country gives evidence that it remains split right down the middle,
mainly along the rural/big cities line. (As I write this, as a result of
numerous statistical anomalies, recounts are ongoing in key states, and
there are legal challenges to be dealt with.)
It's the same old delusion and denial. If Bush told the truth to himself,
that half the American population voted against him, he'd have to take them
into account when considering policy. But by pretending he has this
"mandate" from a "broad, nationwide victory," it's to hell with the losers
and full speed ahead.
SECOND CLUE: Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Feith are still employed. These,
along with Cheney, are the neo-con ideologues driving our foreign/military
policy. No matter that virtually every one of their theories has led to
disastrous consequences and continues to do injury to the long-term national
interests of the United States; those are Bush's boys and he's sticking with
THIRD CLUE: Colin Powell is gone, and Bush did not try to dissuade him from
leaving. Even though in public Powell permitted himself to be used and
abused by the White House, behind the scenes he led the battle against the
worst of the neo-con madness. As the closest thing the Bush Administration
had to a voice of reality-based moderation, he could have chosen to stay and
fight; but, finally, he couldn't take any more, and the Colinectomy was
FOURTH CLUE: Porter Goss, easily rollable by the White House, is the new
head of the CIA. This guy's job is to bring the CIA under control and in the
hip pocket of Bush & Co. Hence the current purge of those deemed
insufficiently supportive of Bush policy, and Goss' demanding of what
amounts to 100% loyalty oaths to The Leader from the remaining agents and
officers of that agency. If you're not with us, you're against us.
FIFTH CLUE: Alberto Gonzales, a longtime Bush toady, is nominated to succeed
John Ashcroft as Attorney General. He's Ashcroft with a more pleasant
demeanor, which makes him even more scary. He'll do whatever needs to be
done to protect Bush from legal attack, and to expand his powers as close to
dictatorship as can be arranged.
Gonzales as White House counsel developed the "legal" rationales to justify
torture, and assertion of authoritarian powers by the commander in chief
SIXTH CLUE: Condoleezza Rice is nominated to succeed Powell as Secretary of
State. Stated as baldly as possible, she's an incompetent as National
Security Advisor - apparently in charge of nothing, since she constantly
claimed to know nothing about what was going on in various scandal areas -
and a liar who may have committed perjury before the 9/11 Commission. As
with Gonzales and Goss, she has no independent constituency and owes total
fealty to her boss.
SEVENTH CLUE: Stephen Hadley will be taking over Condi's job as National
Security Advisor. Hadley, another Bush loyalist, is Rice's deputy, who may
have been involved in covering up various scandals, including "Niger
uranium," pre-9/11 knowledge, and the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
EIGHTH CLUE: House majority leader Tom DeLay, who on Capitol Hill looks
after the interests of Bush and his neo-con advisers, is being legally
protected in his job should he be indicted by a grand jury for multiple
crimes committed in Texas.
NINTH CLUE: With Gonzales moving to the Justice Department, thus protecting
Bush & Co. business from that flank, Bush has appointed another Texas
friend, Harriet Miers, to take Gonzales' job as White House Counsel, to
protect Bush from that redoubt. She is another Bush loyalist, as is Margaret
Spellings, another Texas crony who owes her career to Bush.
TENTH CLUE: Though Bush pretended to offer an olive branch of comity to the
Democratic opposition ("I will reach out to every one who shares our
goals"), what he really said was our way or the highway. The man who once
claimed he wanted to be a uniter, not a divider, continues to drive his
neo-con juggernaut over any and all those who oppose him.
Tight Circle in the Bunker
In short, what we have here is a retreat to the family bunker by the
co-conspirators who make up Bush & Co.'s power-at-any-price family.
Outside his tight inner circle of toadies and fellow delusionists (Rove,
Rummy, Wolfy, Perle, Cheney, Rice, Gonzales, Goss, DeLay, Hadley, et al.),
Bush finds the world unfriendly, even hostile.
That's why he was so very uncomfortable during his first debate with Kerry.
Bush insulates himself so tightly from the real world - has no curiosity,
doesn't read newspapers, surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men,
doesn't want to run into anybody unvetted for loyalty to him - that he
appeared stunned, insulted, outraged that somebody had the temerity to
attack his policies to his face and point out his gross errors of judgment.
So Bush's reshuffling of his Cabinet and top advisors is designed to
insulate him even more from reality, and ensure that nobody, NOBODY, will
question what is about to come down.
And what might that be?
Making War on Terror and Citizens
There are no real secrets here either. In foreign policy, under the
always-useful "war on terrorism" slogan, the neo-cons will re-emerge from
the pre-election closet and start moving again to alter the geopolitical map
of the oil-rich Middle East, bringing "democracy" and "free market
capitalism" to many Arab countries, by suasion if possible (shock & awe
threats), but by the bayonet and bomb if necessary.
The possibility of re-starting the military draft slots in here. Iraq will
continue to be a running sore, but the Bush & Co. desire is still there to
maintain a huge military presence in that country and to control the oil
fields as long as possible. Israel/Palestine will get some attention, but a
just and lasting peace is doubtful unless Bush were seriously to rein in
Ariel Sharon, and that is not going to happen.
In domestic policy, under the always-useful "war on terrorism"
justification, there will be even more crackdowns on dissent, including on
the Internet; moves to gain even tighter control over the judicial system
through appointment of more hard-right judges and justices; more giveaways
to logging and mining interests over environmental protections; further
attempts to eat away at social entitlement programs like Head Start, Social
Security, Medicare, by privatizing as much of it as possible, thus aiding
corporate benefactors; making permanent the huge tax cuts for the wealthy;
paving the way for the utter and complete destruction of the Democrats as a
party of true opposition; and continuing to use the corrupted balloting and
vote-counting system as a backup. The aim is at least another decade or two
of hard-right, one-party rule.
Unless the Democrats can get their political strategy together, and devote
the funds and energy necessary to build an infrastructure for success
(including more think-tanks, media outlets, training of younger
up-and-comers, etc.), there will be little in the way of stopping the Bush
forces from those goals. (Unless, of course, Iraq totally collapses, and/or
the scandals roiling just below the surface - 9/11 pre-knowledge, CIA agent
Valerie Plame's outing, the authorization of torture, Enron/Halliburton,
Iraq incompetence, etc. - pop up and bite Bush & Co. in the new year.)
The situation can't be any more clear. We are in deep you-know-what and
we're not going to be able to climb our way out unless we get ourselves
organized properly (including the possible development of a viable,
win-oriented third party if the Dems can't do it), come up with the creative
tactics and strategies and candidates to create a true and effective
opposition, and spend lots of money to build that oppositional
In short, how and whether we liberals/progressives/moderate-conservatives
survive and grow as an effective opposition is up to us. Each of us.
Copyright 2004, by Bernard Weiner