Harold Meyerson wants to know what the Bushies were thinking.
The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ hour-long meeting on sacking federal prosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took place after the election. The videoconference between leaders of the General Services Administration and Karl Rove’s deputy about how to help Republican candidates in 2008, according to people who attended the meeting, took place Jan. 26 this year.
During last year’s congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans’ message didn’t really impress the public, and apparently it didn’t reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election, they have continued merrily along with their mission to politicize every governmental function and agency as if their allies still controlled Congress, as if the election hadn’t happened.
Last week Wayne Slater was on one of the politics talk shows opining that Karl Rover was convinced the GOP lost the midterm elections because of the corruption scandals, e.g. Duke Cunningham. D. Kyle Sampson and Harriet Miers began drawing up a list of attorneys to be purged in 2005, but most of the purging occurred in December 2006, after the midterm. So, yes, one does wonder what they were thinking.
Democrats such as Waxman clearly had planned to hold hearings on the administration’s hitherto-unexamined follies of the past six years. Instead, the most high-profile investigations they’re conducting concern administration follies of the past five months, since they won the election.
And then there’s Iraq. In spite of overwhelming public opposition to the war and an overwhelming lack of confidence in Bush to make something good out of it, Republicans in Congress continue to support the war and the President. I admit, I expected a lot more rats to desert the sinking ship by now. Meyerson provides four possible answers to this mystery.
Bush and Rove are a symbiotic creature. They were both problem children; Bush was the screwup son of a prominent family; Rove attended nearly half a dozen colleges without getting a degree. They both took an interest in politics, and found each other, and out of that symbiosis came a Formula for gaining and keeping political power. And that formula served them well for a long time. Neither was interested in government, but while Bush was governor of Texas that didn’t matter much. He went through the motions well.
Once in Washington, BushRove finessed the September 11 attacks to maximum political advantage. But the creature was also being protected by a Republican Congress and the Noise Machine — the media-think tank infrastructure that wealthy conservatives began building in the 1970s, about the time Karl Rove dropped out of his last college. With the full force of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy enabling it, The Formula worked just fine.
The big flaw in the BushRovian Formula was the governing thing. Even when government business is conducted in maximum secrecy, the results of incompetence and corruption can only be kept hidden for so long. Chickens do come home to roost.
No matter how much trouble it gets into, the creature is not going to change. It won’t try to work with Congress; it won’t stop trying to get by on spin and bluster. When backed into a corner, the creature will fall back on The Formula, because that’s all it knows.
As to why the rest of the Republicans are still carrying water for the creature — hell if I know.