Harold Meyerson: A Light Dawns

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Bush Administration

I don’t think this qualifies as shrill, but it’s damn close.

Incompetence is not one of the seven deadly sins, and it’s hardly the worst attribute that can be ascribed to George W. Bush. But it is this president’s defining attribute. Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things — particularly when most of them were the president’s own initiatives.

In numbing profusion, the newspapers are filled with litanies of screw-ups. Yesterday’s New York Times brought news of the first official assessment of our reconstruction efforts in Iraq, in which the government’s special inspector general depicted a policy beset, as Times reporter James Glanz put it, “by gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting [and] secrecy.” At one point, rebuilding efforts were divided, bewilderingly and counterproductively, between the Army Corps of Engineers and, for projects involving water, the Navy. That’s when you’d think a president would make clear in no uncertain terms that bureaucratic turf battles would not be allowed to impede Iraq’s reconstruction. But then, the president had no guiding vision for how to rebuild Iraq — indeed, he went to war believing that such an undertaking really wouldn’t require much in the way of American treasure and American lives.

Meyerson then goes into detail on the boondoggle extraordinaire that is the President’s Medicare Prescription Drug program, and concludes:

This is, remember, the president’s signature domestic initiative, just as the Iraq war is his signature foreign initiative.

How could a president get these things so wrong? Incompetence may describe this presidency, but it doesn’t explain it. For that, historians may need to turn to the seven deadly sins: to greed, in understanding why Bush entrusted his new drug entitlement to a financial mainstay of modern Republicanism. To sloth, in understanding why Incurious George has repeatedly ignored the work of experts whose advice runs counter to his desires.

To achieve True Shrillness, IMO, Meyerson needs to look deeper into the explanation of why the Bush Administration is so incompetent. Greed and sloth are apparent, but just the tip of the iceberg. And he also needs to ask why it is the Republican Party and most of the news media continue to dance to his tune.

A recent American Research Group poll put Bush’s approval rating at 36 percent. This time last year, the same poll had Bush at a 51 percent approval. Clearly, the American people are turning against him. Why is it that “Democratic strategists” (I use the term loosely) are afraid to take him on?

Any answers to those questions lead to utter, mouth foaming, incoherent, howling-at-the-moon shrillness. Guaranteed.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. snake  •  Jan 25, 2006 @9:44 am

    I feel like I’m in Bizarro world. The news just said that Bush says it is not domestic spying since one of the ends of the call is in another country. Gonzalez says that since it was ok to detain Hamdi on the battlefield and wiretapping is less intrusive than detention, so that proves wiretapping was authorized under the Hamdi decision. Bush says it couldn’t be illegal since he ‘briefed’ Congress.
    It is the equivalent of committing a crime and then saying’ hey judy, I know what, let’s put on a show!” and taking the musical on the road. The fact that this road show with it’s pathetic song and dance has nothing to do with the real issue is blithely ignored by the media. I mean if you interviewed Gonzalez yesterday and he started blathering about Hamdi as if it had anything to do with this- wouldn’t you ask him about the windowpane he dropped before he walked into the interview? At this point it is only media complicity that is hold this table with no legs.

  2. Rick  •  Jan 25, 2006 @10:08 am

    “One way or another…
    this darkness got to give”

  3. erinyes  •  Jan 25, 2006 @10:38 am

    “Greed and sloth are apparent, but just the tip of the iceberg”.
    Indeed.The main mass lying beneath the surface consists of Neocon Idealism and a crazy Christian Crusader mentality.
    The msm this morning is reporting our military is stretched to the near breaking point.(a draft after the mid terms?)
    Ford announced massive layoffs to come.
    The report of the “Hurricane Pam” drill is finally out in the open.We lost a city, but FEMA did a “Heckofajob”
    Abramoff is singing.
    Libby is getting a spankin’.
    Perle, Feith, and Wolfowitz are in distant orbit, well away from the flying fur.
    The Medicare reform is causing problems.
    There is public outrage over the illegal alien issue and outsourcing of jobs.
    Our local right wing columnist is bashing Wal mart in todays’ paper.
    The big picture is bleak.
    Iran is moving forward with the creation of the oil Bourse.
    India and China rely on Iranian petroleum to fuel their dynamic growth.
    Bush continues to bang the war drum with Iran, so does Israel.
    Virtually every country in South America is going left, and aligning with China. China holds the note.
    Unless something big changes, we are in a very bad spot& “the terrists” will be the least of our worries.

  4. merciless  •  Jan 25, 2006 @11:03 am

    I think the dems need a leader. Right now we have about a million of them, all doing the best they can, but easy to separate and dispose of individually.

    Al Gore’s speech last week was just the medicine we need. I don’t know him, don’t know why he isn’t running (if I had to guess, Tipper has something to do with it) and don’t know what his plans are. But a real leader who is completely unafraid, who can play the game, who has the pedigree and the resume, and who will stand up and call liars liars, would go a long way toward uniting this party and finally this country.

    Of course, if I were in Al’s position, I’d stay put and keep giving speeches this year. Give lots of them, all over the country, talk to Howard and Harry, spend time with the grandkids, and wait until next year. Come out in 2007. Give the wingnuts one less year to trash him. But that’s just me. What do you think?

  5. maha  •  Jan 25, 2006 @11:06 am

    merciless: Sounds like a plan. If Al Gore does decide to run, I would support his candidacy way before I’d support Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden.

  6. merciless  •  Jan 25, 2006 @12:20 pm

    Joe Biden??!!! Is anybody except for Joe and Mrs. Biden seriously considering him as a legitimate contender? In a one-on-one debate between Russ Feingold and either Hillary or Joe (or even both, they could tag-team for all I care) Russ would wipe the floor with them.

    I am so tired of DLC-type talking points, waffling, drifting toward that mythical center, equivocating, and apologizing being done by those clowns I could throw up. I come here some days just to keep my lunch down. Thanks, Maha.

  7. alyosha  •  Jan 25, 2006 @1:06 pm

    re Bush (and Cheney): everything these clowns touch turns to crap. Get them away from the controls!

    re Al Gore: someone else noted that we’re at a Bobby Kennedy moment. If the Dems could field a charismatic leader like RFK, we would have a decent shot at getting this country out of the ever darkening pit it’s in. IMO Al Gore is our RFK whether he knows it or not, regardless of the fact that he’s doesn’t quite score as well in the charisma department. What Gore has is a solid grasp of what’s wrong and the guts to spell it out, clearly, which creates this YES response from the base. How many of us here, would drop what we were doing to help this guy become the next President, if he would only say he wanted it?

    The problem is that Al has to somehow elbow Queen Hillary out of the way. The question in my mind is whether he’s consciously working on this or not, and how hard. I suppose his speechifying is an eliptical way to move in this direction.

  8. merciless  •  Jan 25, 2006 @1:53 pm

    alyosha, there is no Queen Hillary. That is an illusion promoted by Dick Morris, the republican party, and Fox News, who want nothing more than to be able to bash Hillary for two years. Great tv, ratings would skyrocket, she’s such a lightning rod for the wingnuts that soon groups would be picketing her office demanding to see her penis.

    She probably has lots of contacts because of her husband, and probably has some money stashed away from those contacts. But she has little support on the blogosphere (that I can see, anyway) and has the kind of message that makes me want to scream. A flag-burning amendment? Anti-violent-videogame? War with Iraq is a good thing because it makes me look like I have a penis?

    No thanks.

  9. alyosha  •  Jan 25, 2006 @2:59 pm

    merciless, for what they’re worth at this stage of the game, Hillary does have the poll numbers, way ahead of everyone else. For what they’re worth. That said, you and I share the same gut level response to her. Thank God for Molly Ivin’s declaration of non-support from a few days back.

  10. merciless  •  Jan 25, 2006 @5:53 pm

    alyosha, thank God for Molly Ivins period.

    And you’re right, for what they’re worth right now. If Gore stepped up in 2007, I bet they’d go down precipitously.

    Gotta go. Take care, Maha-zians.



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