Saturday, October 22, 2005



Thursday, October 20, 2005

President George Bush's father, George Bush, Sr, cultivated all the right people and moved in the most powerful circles - from diplomat, to CIA head, to vice president and then president. With so much power and almost institutionalized good will, the current plight of George "W" Bush - as he waits for the purported indictments of special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald - is almost incomprehensible.

Ruling elites are instinctively protective, remembering there are less of them, and acting accordingly. They must hate the kind of show that it is unfolding right now in Washington DC, and yet because it is, they must consider it necessary. If "W" had been successful with his war, or wrapped it up sooner or settled for some modest gains and then brought 'em home, he would probably not be facing what he is now. Perhaps there is something to the speculation that "W" doesn't always think clearly. More likely however is that this man with a great deal of poise and self-confidence but little book-learning and even less disciplined intellect simply allowed himself to be led astray by those around him. They include, of course, the vice-president himself, Dick Cheney and others. Even, yes, the so-called Israel lobby, neocons Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perleman and others who are said to have had an enormous impact on the president and now - according to a generous helping of vituperative 'Net analysis - stand ready to abandon him, the war effort and the crumbling economy at a moment's notice.

As he presides over the decaying reputation of what once was one of America's most successful dynastic families, it must be coming clear to Bush if he will just let it, what kind of trouble he is truly in. But maybe it still is not clear because "W" is a rigid guy, as most former drinkers are. For now he remains the picture of a confident commander, chin up, shoulder's squared, determined not to give an inch or utter an apology. The fine international journalist Georgie Anne Geyer wrote recently of Bush's speech at the invitation of the National Endowment for Democracy, as follows, "The sense of the long and deadly serious speech was that the United States had no responsibility for any of this. 'No act of ours invited the rage of the killers, and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. We will never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory.' Wow!"

And in an equally fascinating article several years ago, Geyer isolated an underlying problem, as follows: "Since the current President Bush veered away from the real war against terrorism in Afghanistan and went a'venturing in Iraq, much to his father's dismay, just about everybody close to Washington politics has known of the policy schism between father and son. It was politically and philosophically obvious. But people around Father Bush, a coterie of traditional internationalist conservatives who protect him like a wolf mother does her cubs, would heatedly deny any family rift -- and nobody spoke publicly about it. More curious, and in many ways depressing, is the fact that this President Bush has embarked upon a policy designed to counter, or even to wipe out, his father's entire political legacy. The father lived his life in the service of moderate and intelligent internationalism. His manners were always meticulously courteous, as he wooed even critics overseas to see the American position. He was capable of using force but preferred to do it supported by coalitions of friendly states, thus cementing international cooperation."

In so many ways, Bush has mishandled his presidency but the one for which he is most not to be forgiven is the clumsiness of the way those around him have helped themselves to the spoils. Vice President Dick Cheney's greed, especially, has been palpable and has caused all sorts of obvious problems. Bush has not shared the spoils of war with the European elite which still stays deadly quiet about Iraq, waiting. Then there is Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller - perhaps the Prince of that dynastic family - has had nothing good to say about Bush since 2003 when he abruptly reversed himself about "WMDs," declaring to Tim Russert, "I was wrong," and then moving into a fairly broad frontal attack which continues today. Rockefeller is an important bellwether.

The damage Bush has done to his natural base of support, his father, his social class is important because with the protection that base affords, no prosecutor, no matter how ambitious, could ever touch him. In fact, Fitzgerald never gets appointed in the first place. But he has, and that means Bush has much less protection that he should have, and it also means someone - something - is protecting Fitzgerald as well. Who or what? Probably no less than the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In the course of his first attempt to explain why no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iran, Bush flailed and then focused on George Tenet (beloved of Bush Senior for whom he had named a building). Tenet was a good, hard working man, but when he saw what Bush had in mind, he resigned, leaving Bush to fill the vacancy.

The choice of Porter Goss was not received well, not by the CIA, and not by the Senator from West Virginia, Jay Rockefeller. Rockefellers' family is said to have had a hand in the creation of first the FBI and then the CIA, and "W"'s takeover of the agency, and his now-consummated plan to merge it into "Homeland Security" probably irritated Jay Rockefeller even further. Thus, did Bush approach the end of his fifth year in office with his own father not speaking to him and the most powerful political Rockefeller palpably PO'd.

Yet Bush might have saved himself if he'd been true to the convictions about which he told the American people. He claimed to be religious, to be a compassionate conservative, to be for small government and lower taxes. But it is quite possible, in retrospect that George Bush - supposedly a believer in a certain Machiavellian philosophy - started off lying to the "ruled" right away and has never deviated. If so, he should not be surprised now that he has little or no support.

Ordinarily, were a country's ruling elite behind a leader, it might well be assumed that leader would not even be challenged, let alone be in jeopardy of toppling - certainly not over the ridiculous charge of "misleading" the nation about war. In the 20th and now the 21st century the whole job of the president has been to lie - about money creation, about taxes, about the office itself. And what recent president has ever been truthful about leading the nation to war? FDR probably had prior knowledge of Pearl Harbor. President Woodrow Wilson and his "brain" Colonel House worked for years to involve the United States in World War One. It goes back further, of course. Bush did nothing the others did not do. And that is, no doubt, one reason why he has acted so flummoxed as of late, so disbelieving.

Bush is a second-rater. He's not even a good liar. He has a tin ear and his urge to dictate is not tempered by any realistic frame of reference. He has no knowledge of economics, has never vetoed a single bill, has reportedly talked out loud of America as an "empire,' tolerated military torture, ruined even more of the country's ailing freedoms with such obviousness and carelessness that even the dimmest citizens are somewhat uneasily aware of it. In addition to all that, his designation of bureaucracies ("Homeland Security,' for instance) after 9/11 has been horrendous. Does he believe the institutional memory of World War II and Nazi terminology has faded from American consciousness? It has not. He is wrong. But he is wrong about many things.

If Fitzgerald makes indictments, many forests will be cut down so that the pundits can talk about how wonderful and vibrant democracy is. They are starting already. But in reality, Bush made the fundamental mistake of alienating all of his power bases at once. Even were he to survive, he may well never regain his strength. Richard Nixon always believed the Eastern establishment disliked him and eventually, along with "World Jewry," brought him down. The same mechanism can be seen - hypothetically - at work here. On one side is Bush and neocon new money. Across from him is his father aligned with the old money that has instructed this country for at least a century if not longer.

FMNN recently wrote about Judy Miller, the New York Times reporter who is heavily involved in Plamegate and why she may have incarcerated herself for 86 days. The conclusion: To curry favor with the powerful people she considered her bosses, those who wanted a martyr so that they could quickly pass the Senator Richard Lugar's press "Shield" bill - which is actually just one step toward marginalizing those pesky blogs. While there may have been other reasons - maybe somehow she did believe she needed to protect certain administration officials - her actions speak to a factionalization of power in Washington that is rarely in evidence so clearly. It is too bad for Miller that she probably picked the wrong side.

In an attempt to save himself, Bush has seemingly put a lot of pieces in play. He's tried to pack the Supreme Court, and he's probably helped fill the legislative pipeline with bills such as "hate crimes" legislation along with Lugar's Shield bill that categorizes "legacy" media as legitimate but leaves "blogs" - whatever they are - without the same color of law. It's a primitive form of licensing and a further brick in the defensive armament that Bush hoped to build around his position. But it is all moving very quickly now and very possibly will not matter - not even a bout of bird flu and the requisite opportunity for martial law. Bush has blackened his good name, perhaps for good, and he may soon have little ability to intimidate.

The president apparently forgot his family came up in life - as the Internet amply shows - working for others. His father, a much wiser man, has not forgotten. And neither have those for whom the Prescott-Bushes toiled. (With staff reports.)


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