Should know by now to take my own advice.
I've told myself a thousand times, never write a post before checking to see what's being said by the folks at Shakespeare’s Sister that day.
Yesterday in my post on Kennedy and Nixon I said that Ezra Klein’s description of the case of a rich and charming scoundrel getting away with things a less polished, less connected, less telegenic man can was a fairly good description of the difference between Nixon and George W. Bush.
Meanwhile, over at Shakespeare’s Sister, Paul the Spud was letting go with this exasperated cry from the heart, in which he demanded of the gods to know when Bush will have to pay for a mistake, a lie, a failure, a sin, or a crime.
I'm getting really goddamned sick and tired of this.
I'm sick of waiting.
I'm sick and fucking tired of Bush never commenting on his mistakes, remaining silent when confronted with serious accusations about impeachable offenses and openly showing his contempt for people that dare question him.
And then getting away with it.
He always gets away with it. Always always always. And it's driving me out of my ever-lovin' skull.
Even with his horrible approval ratings. Even with thousands of Americans coming home in boxes. Even when his bald-faced lies are PROVEN to be lies. We sit around and nothing happens.
No WMD found in Iraq? No problem, just hide and hedge until you can wave around some purple fingers! The Downing Street Memo? Just blur the facts and wait for the next distraction. Whoops, Karl Rove got caught committing a felony. Just stall and wait; there's an ongoing investigation, we can't do anything right now. Wait... Rove who?
Voter fraud. Ignoring warnings that led to 9/11. Billions lost in Iraq. Torture.
Wait, and soon, everyone will forget.
Well, I'm sick of waiting. When the fuck are Americans going to stand up and demand that they stop being fed big heaping shovelfuls of bullshit every goddamned day? When are they going to stop rolling over and accepting the lies and excuses?
The answer could be, As long as Bush looks and talks like the kind of man he isn’t, as long as people mistake his outward show for his inward self.
But that’s not entirely been the case for George Bush.
The media has loved to celebrate Bush’s regular guy-ness. But if Bush had been a real regular guy and had led the same kind of life he led when he was in his teens, 20s, and 30s—the life of a drunk and screw-up—it wouldn’t have mattered how right he got with Jesus, by the time he was 40 he’d have been lucky to have a job pushing a broom at Wal-mart’s for the rest of his life, if he wasn’t in jail or dead.
Regular guys’ fathers can’t keep saving them from their own self-destructive impulses over and over again the way Bush’s father kept saving him.
So it was Bush’s pedigree, not his personal charm or good looks that smoothed the way for him.
On top of which, Bush is neither as good looking—nevermind the swooning over him in his flight suit by certain journalists and pundits, male as well as female—nor as charming as he’s been praised for being. His “charm” consists almost entirely of a willingness to be flattered and kowtowed to by people who are desperate for his approval and a contradictory habit of suddenly despising himself and everybody around him for all the flattery and kowtowing he inspires and lashing out colorfully at the whole Pantomime.
He’s “charming” in that he has a moderate degree of graciousness in dealings with underlings and sycophants and a moderate degree of angry honesty that he sometimes forgets to keep in check.
This is what struck me most when I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. In unscripted moments, Bush did not seem to like being or even want to be the President. This explains his long August vacations in Crawford, a place nobody in their right minds wants to be in summer. He’s hiding from the job.
But if his looks and charm aren't carrying him, and his father and his father’s friends can't help him anymore, what is protecting him from suffering the fate a Nixon would suffer—and did suffer, for less?
Ezra has the answer.
A Republican Congress.
For a while the story of the day was that Bush had become a lame duck. After the energy bill and CAFTA passed the story began to shift a little. Bush had suddenly recovered. Samson’s hair had grown back and he was marching on the Philistines swinging a mighty mandible.
Nonsense, both times. Sez Ezra:
The Times has a piece lauding the enormous efficiency of the Bush machine on Capitol Hill. CAFTA, the transportation bill, the energy boondoggle -- all are passing and this duck, once thought to be lame, is soaring with the eagles.
Of course, this is really like being impressed that a waterfowl with a jetpack is able to get airborn. The media, much of the time, does not quite seem to comprehend the importance and legislative power of Bush's party controlling the House and the Senate. It's rather hard to imagine how, save for a major intraparty schism, Bush could become a lame duck in this legislative situation, at least on relatively uncontroversial issues.
Bush should be bestriding the Potomac like a colossus. He’s not. A strong President wouldn't have needed, as Ezra pointed out Bush needed, an extended deadline, a midnight vote, and some possible lawbreaking on the part of Republican Senate leaders to ram CAFTA through. A strong President with a united Congress run by his own Party behind him would not have had to sneak John Bolton in through the back door of the UN. A strong President would not need Bill Frist threatening to blow up the Senate to get his judicial nominees appointed.
Of course, strong Presidents are usually wise Presidents. Part of their strength comes from knowing when to fight and when to give. They don’t persist in their mistakes. They don’t insist on failing. Strong Presidents don’t act like George W. Bush. They don’t govern in fits of pique and mulishness.
Bush is not a strong President.
So we’re back to Paul’s lament.
When will he pay for his weakness?
When he doesn’t have a solid Republican Congress to cover for him. When Tom DeLay and Bill Frist and Denny Hastert aren’t around to play the role his father used to play in his life.
This brings me to the point that’s sticking in my craw.
Reading this you probably won’t believe that I stopped being mad at George Bush a while ago. I haven’t stopped despising the guy and his spectacular awfulness will always make me heartsick for my country. But I’m not angry at him.
I’m angry at the one guy who could have saved us from Bush.
No, not John Kerry.
All McCain would have had to do was sit out the election last fall.
Instead he went to the Republican Convention and all but got on his knees and kissed George Bush’s ring.
He could have and should have broken with Bush over the Swift Boat liars.
Instead he tsk tsked a bit and went to the Convention and bit his lip when the delegates waved around their Karl Rove approved Purple Heart band-aids.
McCain surely hates George Bush and every thing the man stands for.
But he still bows before him.
He surely hates Karl Rove, who McCain knows is just Bush’s alter-ego, and yet he makes excuses for him, even going so far as suggesting that when it came to playing dirty politics in the 2000 Republican primaries he himself was as guilty as Rove, but, hey, that’s the nature of the game.
There are at least 7 Republican Senators who know the truth about George Bush and who might do something about him—not impeach him, that would be asking too much. But they could do what the Senate Republicans did when it became clear that the Reagan Administration had fallen into the hands of rogues, pirates, and traitors. They could go to the White House and demand that Bush start firing people. They could demand that Bush put grown-ups in charge of things.
But they need a leader. And John McCain is the only one who could have taken on that job and stood a chance of surviving the revenge the Bush Leaguers would have tried to exact.
But McCain wants to be President.
And although it looks to objective outsiders that his best shot at the job is as an Independent, McCain has apparently decided to try to win it as a complete Republican Party tool.
Which I think shows that Karl Rove has been able to do something to John McCain that the North Vietnamese weren’t able to do.