Out With a Bang?

Bush Administration

“If power corrupts, weakness in the seat of power, with its constant necessity of deals and bribes and compromising arrangements, corrupts even more.”—Barbara Tuchman

I don’t know where Tuchman wrote the above; I found it in a “quotes for today” column. If anyone recognizes it, please speak up.

Meanwhile —

I’ve written a couple of posts recently about President Bush’s increasing irrelevancy, here and here. But it may be he’s not planning to go out with a whimper.

Kenneth Walsh of US News and World Report writes,

Some Republican strategists are increasingly upset with what they consider the overconfidence of President Bush and his senior advisers about the midterm elections November 7–a concern aggravated by the president’s news conference this week.

“They aren’t even planning for if they lose,” says a GOP insider who informally counsels the West Wing. If Democrats win control of the House, as many analysts expect, Republicans predict that Bush’s final two years in office will be marked by multiple congressional investigations and gridlock.

“The Bush White House has had no relationship with Congress,” said a Bush ally. “Beyond the Democrats, wait till they see how the Republicans–the ones that survive–treat them if they lose next month.”

Billmon suggests there is a plan — start a war with Iran. Would this help win the midterm for Republicans? I doubt it; at this point I think it would just make for a bigger rout. However, I think Tristero is on to something:

I believe that Bush will, as he has done since the beginning, continue to play chicken with the US Constitution, daring Congress to force the constitutional crisis he’s created, which has been going on since before he took office, into a full-blown public meltdown. And I believe, just as they did with the filibuster, that Congress will back down to prevent a public meltdown from happening. Congress, either Dem-controlled or not, will prefer to avoid a very frightening confrontation with a rogue presidency – that could lead who knows where – in the hopes that Bush’s insane challenge to the very structure of the US government simply will end when Bush leaves office in 2009.

I’m not saying I like this or that I think it’s a good (or bad) idea. All I’m suggesting is that even if there is a rout, don’t expect much. With Bush in office, the serious danger to the country’s kind of government persists. He will do whatever he wants to do. The Congress, like it or not, will be very anxious to do nothing to exacerbate the crisis, hoping to wait him out.

Yes, indeed, a Democratic House/Congress may raise quite a stink over Bush’s desire for the big Iran Bang Bang he’s planning. But even so, Congress will do all it can not to confront Bush but avoid the confrontation.

That’s right: Even a Democratically controlled Congress may very well go along with Bush’s war plans in order to avoid a catastrophic showdown over who really has the true power in America these days. It may mean that the confrontation over Bush/Iran could devolve into an open clash between Bush and very reluctant generals, with Congress stuck, badly, in the middle. (And I can clearly see the headlines on Fox declaring a ” military coup d ‘etat” and “mutiny.”) But frankly, I doubt it. I suspect that there will be no major dramatic confrontations and, barring the totally unforeseen, that Bush could get away with starting another war. Possibly even a nuclear war – and then watch the fur fly as the world condemns the US and Congress tries to figure out what to do while the bodies of radiated children are displayed on television and Bush demands “loyalty in a time of active war.”

You know that some Dems would give Bush anything he wants — Lieberman, for example, if he returns to the Senate and remains a Dem. You can count on Lieberman and some others to sell us out.

As for the rest of the Dems, majority or not, beginning the day after the November election we must begin an all-out, full-court-press campaign to let the Dems know that, if they don’t stand up to Bush, they will face worse consequences from us.

It’s entirely possible Bush isn’t making any plans because he’s got his head shoved so far up his ass he really doesn’t know he’s in trouble. It’s also possible he will decide to work out some kind of compromise — don’t indict me for war crimes, and I’ll behave. We’ll see. It’s important to remember that, for all his bluster, Bush is a weak man and a weak leader. He doesn’t get his way by leading, but by subterfuge and lies. His weakness is, in fact, his strength — he has no scruples at all, and he might very well force the nation to choose between allowing him to reign as dictator and some sort of coup d’état. But weenie that he is, it’s possible there’s someone who can take him into hand and force him to comply. Like, maybe, his mother.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. lafrance  •  Oct 14, 2006 @10:08 pm

    I agree with the fact that something is up. I don’t think congress will turn tail but, will try to avoid. If democratic.
    I thought back on the history of this country, especially in the past 100 years. I don’t think if faced with a rouge president would congress be acting any different or the generals. It’s so astounding to them that when it happens it is without real presidence – Nixon aside. Nixon was not as bad.
    I think it’s the fact that how do you deal with it.
    And what is he capable of doing?
    This is what will go thru thier minds.
    But, I think Conyers and Rangel would relish a fight with Bush. And I think the house is more up to the task. It’s the Senate. That is where problems lay. You have too many frighten hearts with too many looking at running for president themselves. These are the ones to target with serious blogging. Big stink raising. If it goes Democratic. If republican we need to make sure the fight stays with them in the house.

  2. Swami  •  Oct 14, 2006 @10:39 pm

    My analysis is that if the Democrats take control of congress, Bush is going to do what is known as in boxing jargon as “getting on his bicycle.” He’ll be in for the fight of his life trying to survive till the final round in 2009. Bush is spent, and all his remaining energies will be focused on survival. How much more can he trash the Constitution? A war with Iran is beyond insane considering he’s got 2 wars that are sure defeats sitting on the table already. He’s done..he’s shot his wad, and all that’s left now is damage control while making a mad dash to the finish line.

    Bush doesn’t have a plan for a Democratic takeover because his speech writers haven’t written it yet.

  3. Swami  •  Oct 14, 2006 @11:02 pm

    It might be only my perception, but all the grumbling in the early days about the deceptions that lead us into Iraq have finally grown teeth and with the upcoming defeat in Iraq, American is going to want it’s pound of flesh. I believe the whole Iraqi fiasco is to big to be blown-off with words and can only be satiated with an accountability moment. It’s come down to either America wears the shame of Iraq, or Bush and his cabal wear it.

  4. Bonnie  •  Oct 15, 2006 @12:26 am

    The above scenario is really scary. But, one player that was not mentioned is the media. Will they continue their subservient manner with Bush? If they became their better selves, there could be some hope.

  5. zeus  •  Oct 15, 2006 @1:42 am

    I don’t think Bush really cares about his last two years in office. I think he’s just biding his time until he can become baseball commissioner. See Gail Sheehy’s Vanity Fair article The Accidental Candidate at http://www.gailsheehy.com/Politics/politicsindex_bush3.html
    I think I found this article via a link from maha many months ago.
    This is the most fascinating short bio of this guy that I have ever read.

    Unfortunately for George, I don’t think he’ll get the position once the league gets a look at his resume.

  6. janinsanfran  •  Oct 15, 2006 @2:09 am

    Full-court-press on the Dems. Exactly what we are going to need if we hope to make our new “representatives” stand up for any of the reasons we will hav elected them. One thing for certain, Americans don’t want any more losing wars. And the Repubs and Bush, being on the wrong side of history, not to mention morality, offer us nothing else.

  7. windje  •  Oct 15, 2006 @8:49 am

    If power corrupts, weakness in the seat of power, with its constant necessity of deals and bribes and compromising arrangements, corrupts even more.
    Barbara Wertheim Tuchman (1912-1989)
    Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45, 1970
    Chapter 18 “‘The Future of All Asia is at Stake’: June-September 1944”

    http://www.junkfoodforthought.com/quotations/P.htm

  8. Gordon  •  Oct 15, 2006 @8:56 am

    I think it mostly depends on those around Bush that he actually trusts, and there aren’t many of those. Worst case is that Cheney and his cabal get control.

    From George, I think we’ll see temper tantrums, signs of drinking and then withdrawal. It’s how far he withdraws and who ends up running things (if anyone) that matters.

    In the end, I fully expect him to follow in his great…great grand uncle’s footsteps (Franklin Pierce) by retiring early and drinking himself to death. There’s a striking parallel – Pierce singlehandedly undid the only North/South compromise that had a hope of preventing the Civil War, and thus was nearly responsible for the destruction of the USA. His great…grand nephew appears to have inherited the same proclivities.

  9. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 15, 2006 @9:53 am

    Maha,
    Plan?
    What PLAN?!?
    Don’t you know that PLAN stands for “P”rogressives and “L”iberal’s “A”re all “N”ut’s?
    Why would we need any plan? For anything?!?
    Why would we need one? We’re the USA?
    USA!
    USA!!
    USA!!!

    Uhm, help me out, what were we cheering for again?…

  10. Bucky Blue  •  Oct 15, 2006 @10:14 am

    There’s not a plan for Iran, just sabre rattling to try and scare the voters. Hell, there’s not a plan for Iraq or Afghanistan either for that matter. Remember, with this group in the WH, it’s all about politics. I don’t believe that george will stop his assault on the constitution, and that members of congress will have to get some cojones to put a stop to him. I actually believe that might occur, with Bush’s approval ratings being what they are and many simple hating the man, taking a stand against him will be less of a risk than not taking a stand against him.

  11. Doug Hughes  •  Oct 15, 2006 @12:03 pm

    Like the Republicans, Dems (once they have the House) won’t do anything based on ethical principles (what’s that?), but will allow politics and power to direct their actions. There will be some tentative inquiries into abuses by the administration and a view of reaction in the polls. If investigations are perceived as partisan attacks, they will desist. If the public reacts with curiousity, perhaps even a desire for truth (what’s that?) then the Dems will turn up the volume on investigations. The barometer will be the perceived impact of inquiries on the 2008 election.

    My opinion is that the Republicans probably did a poor job of covering their misdeeds – counting ‘national security’ as a get-out-of-jail-free card. I am concerned that Dem Party Chiefs in anticiapation of a victory in regaining the White House will not be eager to roll back illegitimate presidentral authority.

    The role of the liberal blogosphere should be a cry for truth, which can only come from Congressional Inquiries. Oversight IS the Constitutional role of Congress, which Republicans have abdicated. The second issue needs to be a restoration of Civil Rights and Balance of Powers, which means Dems will have to renounce the Presidential Powers claimed by King George. They need to do it loud and clear so the voters perceive that Dems are the party FOR democracy.

  12. Preston  •  Oct 15, 2006 @1:31 pm

    As Clausewitz observed nearly 175 years ago: “War is the continuation of politics by other means” (On War, Howard and Paret, eds., 1976). It so happens that an item announcing joint naval wargames in the Persian Gulf set to take place on October 31st appeared in the Washington Post of October 12 ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/11/AR2006101101617.html ). During the Cold War years, Nato and Warsaw Pact forces established large training areas along their common borders, which lead one to believe that if either side were to decide to attack the other, the war would begin with a major training exercise very close to the border. This may or may not be what is happening in the Persian Gulf later this month. However, with the Bushies’ penchant for doing stupid things to scare voters into voting for Republicans, we cannot dismiss out of hand the possibility that they are thinking of some military action against Iran on the eve of the November elections. I sincerely hope this is not the case, but one must always be alert to the possibilities.

  13. r4d20  •  Oct 16, 2006 @12:40 pm

    However, with the Bushies’ penchant for doing stupid things to scare voters into voting for Republicans, we cannot dismiss out of hand the possibility that they are thinking of some military action against Iran on the eve of the November elections.

    No, it will be after the elections but before Bush leaves office. It will be a “Strike” of some nature – short of war but likely to set of a tit-for-tat that escalates to war and invasion.

  14. Howard  •  Oct 19, 2006 @1:30 am

    oh please, this is what passes for discussion from the left? power of the bloggers? (see lamont’s latest polls)

    Let me go back and check the archives from the last two elections and see how much of this drivel is being re-used, is this the copy and paste section from past election times?

  15. maha  •  Oct 19, 2006 @7:05 am

    Howard — since your comment doesn’t relate to the post or other comments, I assume you didn’t actually read them and that you are a troll. You are banned.