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.