It seems to me that much ommentary on President Bush has already taken on a retrospective tone, as if his Administration were already over. It is over, in the sense that most Americans have had it with the Bushies. Eugene Robinson writes,
It’s official: Bush Derangement Syndrome is now a full-blown epidemic. George W. Bush apparently has reduced more of his fellow citizens to frustrated, sputtering rage than any president since opinion polling began, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon. …
… A Gallup Poll released this week showed that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of how the Decider is doing his job. That sounds bad enough — nearly two-thirds of the country thinks its leader is incompetent. But when you look more closely at the numbers, you see that Bush’s abysmal report card — only 31 percent of respondents approve of the job he’s doing — actually overstates our regard for his performance.
According to Gallup, if you lump together the Americans who “strongly” approve of Bush as president with those who only “moderately” feel one way or the other about him, you end up with about half the population. That leaves a full 50 percent who “strongly disapprove” of Bush — as high a level of intense repudiation as Gallup has ever recorded in its decades of polling.
Gallup has been asking the “strongly disapprove” question since the Lyndon Johnson administration. The only time the polling firm has measured such strong give-this-guy-the-hook sentiment was in February 1974, at the height of the Watergate scandal, when Nixon’s “strongly disapprove” number was measured at 48 percent. Bush beats him by a nose, but the margin of error makes the contest for “Most Reviled President, Modern Era” a statistical tie.
The shrinking Republican base still supports Bush, but Independents have joined the Dems in the Anti-Bush League.
Bush didn’t come by this distinction with help from family connections or the Supreme Court. No, he earned it.
And, you know, being President is just about the only thing the sociopathic little bleep ever did in his life without help from family connections.
What’s hard to fathom is how we’ll make it through the next 14 1/2 months.
Maybe that’s why retrospectives feel so soothing.
Sidney Blumenthal describes the Bush Administration as something like a smoking ruin:
Every aspect of George Bush’s foreign policy has now collapsed. Every dream of neoconservatism has become a nightmare. Every doctrine has turned to dust. The influence of the United States has reached a nadir, its lowest point since before the second world war, when the country was encased in isolationism.
Don’t hold back, Sidney. Tell us what you really think.
Gone are the days when the stern words of a senior US official prevented rash action by an errant foreign leader and when the power of the US served as a restraining force and promoted peaceful resolution of conflict. In the vacuum of the Bush catastrophe, nation-states pursue what they perceive to be their own interests as global conflicts proliferate. The backlash of preemptive war in Iraq gathers momentum in undermining US power and prestige.
The resignation last week of Bush’s close advisor, Karen Hughes, as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, whose mission was to restore the US image in the world, signaled not only failure but also exhaustion. The administration’s ventriloquism act of casting words into the mouth of the president’s nominee for attorney general, former federal judge Michael Mukasey, who would not declare waterboarding torture, demonstrated that Bush is less concerned with the crumbling of America’s reputation and moral authority than with preventing an attorney general from prosecuting members of his administration, including possibly him, for war crimes under US law.
The neoconservative project is crashing. The “unipolar moment,” the post-Cold War unilateralist utopia imagined by neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer; “hegemony,” the ultimate goal projected by the September 2000 manifesto of the Project for the New American Century; an “empire” over lands that “today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets,” fantasized by neocon Max Boot in the Weekly Standard a month after September 11, have instead produced unintended consequences of chaos and decline….
…The Bush administration finds itself devoid of options. Neoconservatives are left, happily at least for some of them, to defend torture. They have no explanations for the implosion of Bush’s policies or suggestions for remedy. Self-examination is too painful and in any case unfamiliar. Bush regrets Musharraf’s martial law, yet tacitly accepts that the US has no alternative but to support him in the war on terror that he is not fighting – and is using for his own political purposes.
On the rubble of neoconservatism, the Bush administration has adopted “realism” by default, though not even as a gloss on its emptiness. Bush still clings to his high-flown rhetoric as if he’s warming up for his second inaugural address. But this is not rock-bottom. There is further to fall.
Um, that last bit wasn’t so soothing.
Be sure to read Craig Unger’s piece on “How Cheney took control of Bush’s foreign policy” at Salon. Colin Powell was already being shoved out of the loop by Cheney and Rumsfeld before Bush was inaugurated. Unger also writes that Paul Wolfowitz probably would have become Director of the CIA were it not for his affair with Shaha Riza, a.k.a. the “neoconcubine.” Somehow Mrs. Wolfowitz found a way to take her marital grievances to the White House.