I'm more and more convinced that it will be Republicans, many of them of
the true conservative and realist kind, who effectively will do in the
In this, I am reminded of the behavior of Richard Nixon when he realized
that he was fast losing his middle-class, bourgeois base: He called it
quits on the Vietnam War, and likewise on his presidency after his crimes
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
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
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, and neo-con leader
Bill Kristol 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
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, chair of the Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation,
going even beyond the war into the deeper crimes being committed against
"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
recantation these days in interviews and in his new book, "America at
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.
For example, though he once supported regime change in Iraq, he now
believes the war there is the wrong sort of war, in the wrong place at the
wrong time. "The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the
threat facing the United States from radical Islamism. Although the new
and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of
mass destruction did indeed present itself, advocates of the war wrongly
conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue
state/proliferation problem more generally...
"By definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that
doesn't want it; demand for democracy and reform must be domestic.
Democracy promotion is therefore a long-term and opportunistic process
that has to await the gradual ripening of political and economic
conditions to be effective."
THE CHENEY-RUMSFELD CABAL
Then we go to a long-time Administration stalwart who couldn't take it any
more: Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was chief of staff
for Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States,
Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical
issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being
made," Wilkerson said in a well-publicized speech at the New America
Foundation last October. "And you've got a president who is not versed in
international relations and not too much interested in them either."
Wilkerson has also focused attacks on the Bush administration for
condoning torture, setting lax and ambiguous policies on treatment of
detainees that inevitably led to the scandal of the abuses at Abu Ghraib
prison in Iraq and elsewhere.
BUCKLEY BUCKLES TO REALITY
Onward to the intellectual godfather of the modern conservative movement,
National Review founding editor
William F. Buckley Jr., who concludes that what may have started as a
decent move has evolved into disaster:
"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has
failed. ... Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved
uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human
reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt
they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against
the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and
pistols. ... Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because
to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate
requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in
high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he
can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments
in foreign policy. ... The kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat."
THE TROOPS WANT OUT, SOON
Speaking of the troops in Iraq,
reveals that nearly 3 out of 4 of U.S troops in Iraq think the U.S. should
exit the country within the year, and more than one in four say the troops
should leave immediately. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff admits
also that the Iraqis want us to leave
"as soon as
Here are some pertinent
comments by a
U.S. soldier in Iraq, writing as "djtyg," about why the desire to
leave that country:
"We need to get out because our military cannot take
much more of this. We are stretched too thin and it's about to get
worse. ... Soldiers are frustrated. Every soldier I have talked to says
that they are getting out of the military when they get home. Every.
One. Of. Them. Regardless of rank, experience, or time in, they all want
out. There has not been a single Soldier I've talked to that says they
want to stay in. This includes officers, NCOs, and rookies who are on
their first tour of duty. We need to get out of Iraq because Iraq is the
reason why the military is shrinking. We, like Cindy Sheehan, are
curious as to what 'noble cause' we are fighting for. We can't seem to
find one. This is weakening America. At the rate we are going, we are
going to have a military that can't fight because it has old and broken
down equipment, and no troops to fight a war with."
SEN. HAGEL LOWERS THE BOOM
Then there are key Republican senators who are willing to stick out their
necks by talking truth to power about Iraq. For example, Nebraska Senator
Chuck Hagel, who said the U.S. is losing in Iraq and
raised a parallel to an earlier conflict.
The Vietnam War, he said, "was a national tragedy partly because members
of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage
to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late. To
question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your
government is unpatriotic," he said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in
Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and
women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."
O'REILLY QUESTIONS STAYING IN IRAQ
So, let's see: Bush is losing old-money Republican conservatives, GOP
senators, neo-con theorists outside the Cheney-Rumsfeld nexus, military
insiders, troops under fire in Iraq -- who else can he lose? Would you
believe the lunatic fringe, as symbolized by that raving Limbaugh wannabee
The Fox News pundit, who usually is in lockstep with the Bush program and
calls anybody who criticizes those policies idiots and worse, had this to
say the other day about the need to get out of Iraq ASAP:
"[We need to] hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly
possible [because] there are so many nuts in the country -- so many
crazies -- that we can't control them."
GOP DISCONTENT ON NATIONAL SECURITY
Well, one could go on and on with the criticism coming from the Right --
conservative former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, former Reagan
Administration official Paul Craig Roberts, Congressional Dem warhawk John
Murtha, et al. The point is that the Republicans, formerly associated with
a winning national-security message, are now regarded much differently by
many GOP politicos and rank-and-file citizens.
Many Representatives and Senators also deeply resent the way the Congress
frozen out of the power loop by the Bush Administration. "We simply
want to participate and aren't going to be PR flacks when they need us,"
Florida's conservative GOP Congressman Mark Foley said. "We all have
roles. We have oversight. When you can't answer your constituents when
they have legitimate questions -- we can't simply do it on trust."
Scott Reed, who managed Robert Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, called
the current low poll ratings for Bush and the GOP "pretty shattering,"
noting especially that Bush's support among Republicans fell from 83
percent to 72 percent. "The repetition of the news coming out of Iraq is
wearing folks down," Reed said. "It started with women [voters] and it's
spreading. It's just bad news after bad news after bad news, without any
light at the end of the tunnel."
THE PRESIDENT AS DICTATOR
"Even if you're a Republican member of Congress, you don't buy the
exaggerated view of the unified executive theory, in which the only part
of the Constitution that matters is Article II," on presidential power,
said James B. Steinberg, a dean at the University of Texas at Austin. "If
you want them to be in on the landing, you have to have people there for
staunch conservative Southern Senators won't accept Bush's Unified
Executive theory of governance. "I think the administration has looked at
the legitimate power of the executive during a time of war and taken it to
extremes," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "[It's]
to the point that we'd lose constitutional balance. Under their theory,
there would be almost no role for the Congress or the courts."
Mississippi's Sen. Trent Lott was even more blunt: "Don't put your fist in
EVEN WALL ST. IS TALKING IMPEACHMENT
All those defections from the Bush orbit are doing great damage to the
once-unified Bush&Co. juggernaut, but I've left out one key one: Wall
Street. The titans of finance are agitated, to the point of raising the
awareness of the possibility of impeachment or even urging serious
consideration of Bush's removal.
Street Journal, alone among mainstream daily newspapers, has deigned
to mention that there is a growing impeachment movement and an active PAC
(impeachpac.org). And here's some of what Barron's Editorial Page Editor
Thomas G. Donlan wrote in that
establishment financial journal:
...The administration is saying the president has
unlimited authority to order wiretaps in the pursuit of foreign
terrorists, and that the Congress has no power to overrule him...Perhaps
they were researched in a Star Chamber? Putting the president above the
Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except
those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. President
Bush is stretching the power of commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy
by indicating that he can order the military and its agencies, such as
the National Security Agency, to do whatever furthers the defense of the
country from terrorists, regardless of whether actual force is involved.
Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is
at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval
Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary
Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as
outraged at this situation...
It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to
that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional
right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to
set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the
president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors
signed into law. ...
THREE MORE YEARS?
So, friends, when we're down in the dumps, depressed by the fact that
Bush&Co. are still in power even in the face of all their lies and
bumblings and policies that result in thousands of people getting killed
and maimed and tortured, let us consider that even their once-loyal rats
are deserting the sinking ship of state.
The thought of nearly three more years of Bush&Co. misrule is too horrible
to contemplate. So let's ratchet up the pressure, incorporate distressed
GOP moderates and conservatives into the impeachment momentum, and send
the Bush Bunker crew packing and return the country to reasonable people
dedicated to a restoration of Constitutional rule of law and a realistic
foreign policy. It's the least we can do for our country.
Copyright 2006, by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government &
international relations at various universities, worked as a writer/editor
with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers
(www.crisispapers.org). To comment, write