The Bush Policy Flow Chart

Da Big Nooz, from CBS

The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush’s approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Excuse me while I dance about and pump my fist a few times.

The article goes on to say that Bush took a hit on the UAE port deal (7 in 10 Americans are opposed), and he’s still hurting from Katrina (2 out of 3 Americans say he hasn’t respond adequately). Regarding the port deal, whether the deal compromises national security or not, the way the Bushies handled the deal reveals a lot about what’s wrong with the Bush Administration. Thinking about the port deal inspired me to spend at least three minutes painstakingly and meticulously doodling the following flow chart:

The “Bush Policy Decision Process” works as follows: First, the President and a small group of long-time advisers carefully chosen to agree with each other get together inside the bubble and decide on a policy. This is the easy part, especially since no one with expertise or a diverse point of view is allowed inside the bubble.

Next comes a critical decision: Should the White House make this policy known to Congress and the public, or should they keep it secret?

If they choose to make it public, the next step is packaging the policy. The packaging may or may not (probably not, truth be told) be representative of what the policy actually is; the point of the packaging is purely to maximize sales appeal. For example, the Bushies might decide on a policy of maxmimizing timber production in national forests because it would be good for the logging industry. The policy will be packaged as good for the forests. They’ll call it something like the “Healthy Forests Initiative.”

You’ll remember that Andy Card let it slip that the 2002 saber rattling over Iraq was a “marketing campaign.” Later we heard (from where? Maybe someone can remind me.) that the weapons of mass destruction argument was used to build support for invading Iraq because it was the most saleable argument, not because it was the actual reason. In any event, the Bushies have had to repackage the Iraq War at least two or three times, haven’t they?

Now, as part of the marketing campaign, all dissenting opinion must be suppressed. Therefore, anyone who argues against the policy is smeared and ridiculed by the VRWC. The more expertise and logical arguments dissenters might have against the policy, the harder they are smeared. Thanks to a compliant media, this has meant (until recently) most of the public never hears the opposing arguments, just that so-and-so who opposes the policy is an unhinged ultra-liberal Bush-hating Saddam lover who wants to destroy America.

So the policy goes into effect. What if it becomes obvious that the policy is failing? The Bushies go back to the “marketing/smearing” phase, repackage the policy, and issue fresh smears. At the same time, people who had been shut out of the policy-making process except to be allowed to rubber-stamp it (such as “Democrats”) will be blamed for the failure of the policy.

What happens if the policy becomes a resounding success? We haven’t reached that stage with any Bush policy, so anything we say would be speculative. Just thinking about what they might do gives me the willies, though.

If the Bushies choose the “keep it secret” option, and the policy is made public in spite of their best efforts to keep it secret, they switch over to the “marketing/smearing” plan, and the rest of the chart flows along as with the “make it public” option.

In the case of the UAE port deal, they seem to have gotten sloppy. They defaulted to the “keep it secret” procedure even though it wasn’t really secret. When the deal became public and the shit hit the fan, the Bushies hastily switched over to marketing/smearing, but by then they were behind the public opinion curve. And a lot of the people who got caught up in the smear campaign were long-time Bush administration supporters who were astonished at being called unhinged ultra-liberal Bush-hating Saddam lover who wants to destroy America, in so many words.

The Katrina disaster doesn’t fit into the flow chart anywhere, which is why the Bushies don’t know what to do about it. I’ve written before about the many times the Bushies are utterly confounded by problems they hadn’t foreseen, like power blackouts and hurricanes. But responding to an unexpected disaster that cannot be blamed on scarey swarthy foreigners it haaaard. It’s hard to get a good propaganda campaign going before people have already made up their minds the administration is screwing up. And if the disaster is domestic, people will notice fairly quickly that the administration’s efforts aren’t working. Mind-boggling ineptitude is easier to hide if it’s happening in another part of the world; like, say, Iraq.

Unrelated: A gold medal for Wales! Wales beats France in cooking contest! Llongyfarchiadau!

27 thoughts on “The Bush Policy Flow Chart

  1. In re Dubai, if I were a reporter I’d be looking for a Neil or a Marvin and while I was at I’d look for a James Baker III in this pile of horse manure.

  2. I love this! When I heard the Bush rating approval, I thought, “well, it’s about time that people are figuring things out”!

    All the morning shows were in New Orleans today – Fat Tuesday. This gave the viewers another reminder about Katrina and this administration’s failure.

    Maybe this is why Bush wanted to take off and go to India and Pakistan, he knew NOLA would be on stage this week.

  3. While this is pretty damn accurate, I’m very interested in what we flow charters call “the start state”, your first bubble called “Policy Decisions Made”.

    From those who have been there – notably the former head of faith based initiatives, John J. DiIulio, who coined the phrase “Mayberry Machiavellis” to describe the policy cabal – every decision is made not for the benefit of the country, but for whatever political benefit may accrue to the cabal. That’s the process I’d like to see flow charted and exposed to the world.

  4. You’ve got it! And the process will hold up under testing, I’ll bet. The part I have yet to figure out is the Bush-Cheney mechanism. Can a bubble be initiated from either office? Who has to sign off on who? I am not really sure, because it seems plausible to me that The Veep is sort of free-standing. His rationale has always been “Preserving the Presidency,” in case of Armageddon. What do you guys think?

  5. Does any one watch the show by Fareed Zakaria called Foreign Exchange?

    His website has video of last weeks show with an interview regarding the upcoming trip to India by Bush this week. It’s about NUCLEAR STUFF. How will he screw this one up? Everyone breath and enjoy the 34% while we can. He’s loose out there with something bigger then a gun. His mouth! Cheney still has the gun.

  6. This morning, I was excited to read about the low ratings. Maybe, people in this country are finally realizing the mistake of voting or selecting this guy into office. Before the 2000 election, I read Molly Ivins’ book “Shrub.” The book taught me that if Bush was president, he would set the country up for failure, but he and others of his kind would financially benefit from his presidency. Hopefully, after his term is up, Bush and others like him would be on the short end of the pole. Mr. Bush, the United States of America is not a corporate business that you can bankrupt with you gaining millions of dollars.

  7. Don’t be giving Bush all the praise…Cheney tipped the scales with a respectable 29% approval rating. Not bad for the old buzzard!

    Bush seems to have a slight problem on his hands with the situation in Iraq. Maybe he should rescind some of those hard earned Freedom Medals he awarded to Tenet and Franks. Iraq is turning out to be an un-slam dunk. Bush should also head back to his prayer closet and ask the Lord, why have you forsaken me? Wasn’t I obiedient to your word in taking out Saddam?

    I quess the ultimate question is..Will Bush be held to account for his deceptive fuck-up in Iraq before he slips out of office?

  8. Correction of #9

    Cheney got an 18% approval rating this time around..the 29% was a figure from several months ago.. Hopefully come election time, Cheney will be a flatliner in the approval game.

  9. No joy in Mudville…Yeah, these guys are going down. Thing is there may be no way out of this tar baby…

    Ps. I want the second of the Im words, imprisonment, for what these guys have done to us.

  10. I love your flowchart.

    Personally I would like to see the Hague involved, but like that will ever happen.. I can dream, though, right?

  11. The word you’re looking for instead of a question mark on your chart is the descriptive military acronym FUBAR.

    Chicken george is taking 5,000 bodyguards with him to India, has the world ever known a bigger fool?

  12. I have a vague (possibly inaccurate) memory that it was Wolfowitz, in an unguarded moment, who admitted the WMD was strictly a sales pitch, chosen because it was deemed the most compelling to the general public.

  13. Flow chart – sales pitch.

    Did anyone see Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews”? She was just on pitching the “sales points” for port agreement per flow chart.

    I couldn’t believe Chris’ question to her. “Senator, why don’t you run for President?”

    She said that she “was certainly qualified” and “capable” but it “just wasn’t in her belly” at this time.

    Give me a break! Put that “b—-” back on the bus. She used to be a news reporter for a TV station in Houston. I can remember seeing a video of her on the bus when Bush was running for office. I think it was Governor of TX but it could have been for President in 2000.

    It looks like she had a haircut and a color job which she needed badly.

  14. Remember this Bush did not win the election in 2004. He bought the election from Diebold. I live in Evansville, IN and when I voted in 2004 it kept popping up George Bush when I voted for John Kerry. I don’t know if I voted 4 times for Bush and then 1 time for Kerry or what happened without a paper trail. But it made me wish that I had not voted at all

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  16. Maha, you and your flow chart are amazingly good at ‘hitting the jugular’ on each and every point of bushit flow.

    Makes me chuckle to picture the Bushies trying to hide in their purposefully created fog, but here comes Maha who unerringly reaches through the fog and grabs them by the throat.

  17. The flow chart isn’t altogether accurate..the secret outed category needs to be subdivided into two sections with one section connecting to the packaging category and the other connecting to smear dissenters category. This is because there are two distinctly different types of outed secrets. And also without a noticeable doublespeak filter placed between the bubble and the flow on the make it public side, the casual observer will misunderstand the nature of the relationship between the public and the bubble.

  18. Oh, sorry, I see you did provide for the separation of outed secrets. The flow came around from underneath and attached to the sales aspect…I’m embrassed for being flow chart reading impaired., although I’m a wiz with understanding pie graphs

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