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The "I" Word

Hagel's got THAT right, anyway

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 28, 2007.

I’ve disliked George Bush for so long, I take great joy in watching his administration fall apart, his actions revealed for the hypocritical nonsense they always were, and the criminal investigations against his actions and those of his monumentally incompetent cronies piling up. Great joy.

It is tempered by the fact that it isn’t just George Bush and his cronies going down the tubes, but an era of American competence and the overall peace it engendered. I’ve moved left on many issues as I’ve gotten older, somewhat ironically, but I have never been able to shake the notion, which I learned from Lincoln’s words, that the United States is an experiment that has benefited the world, and it’s a lot more fragile than people today realize. It’s very important the United States be the Big Dog, not just for our own selfish safety and life style but because the alternatives are terrible and predictably disastrous.

In fact, the biggest crime of George W. Bush has been the destruction of the image and the reality of America being the can-do, super competent nation of power. That took no small effort, given the awe our history had engendered, because America still has a surplus of incredibly creative and competent people, the result of the world’s best system of higher education - which those attending Purity Balls and Intelligent Design gatherings would dismantle - and a proven track record that, if nothing else, encouraged the young and gifted because great things had been done previously. While Carter’s administration did indeed depress the nation because of bad times and his refusal to puff up the mythology, which Reagan pounced upon, Bush has not only damaged our self image but damaged the reality as well. We just don’t feel weaker in relation to the more dubious nations, we are.

How has Bush done more to damage the United States than our own acknowledged enemies? The answer, I contend, is rather simple. It is not because of liberal-conservative issues. I suspect we’re all aware at some level that different times require different approaches, and to everything there is a season. Sometimes, government needs to inflict itself and bitch slap the moneyed industrial establishment, as FDR did. Sometimes, the nation needs to calm down and take measure, as Eisenhower did.

Bush’s basic crime is that he is not a conservative, nor a businessman nor, I contend, much of a Christian. I recoil with horror when the public today remembers his father as a peaceful and good conservative of competence, and how disappointed George Herbert Walker Bush must be in his partial name sake. Malarkey. The Bush family, like the Kennedys, have always been political opportunists, and Dubya is a family values religious conservative no more seriously than his father liked 7-11 pork rinds, which was seriously pretended at one point. If the political winds had been from the left when the Bushies were in line to move up, they’d have zero problem doing a Schwarzenegger and letting the river flow to election victory.

Lee Atwater, the guru of sleeze at whose teat Karl Rove nuzzled, was the elder Bush’s advisor, and devised such false contentions while running against the outmatched Michael Dukakis that the Swift Boat committees and Whitewater investigations are all owed to him. Willie Horton as an election issue was Atwater’s contribution to Bush’s election victory, and Bush only distanced himself from it relative to the need. He approved it.

Dubya’s presidency has been as superficial as any New Age come on, and it’s now best and most accurately viewed as a self-esteem project for a powerful family’s newly dry drunk with Daddy issues. From the very first, Bush has been desperate that the public see him as comparable to the great presidents and greater than his father. He wanted to be a war president, something al Quada made easy for him, but unlike his idols he’s bollixed it and expanded a war to no benefit and much loss, not only in soldiers, civilians, money, and confidence. To cover his own weaknesses of substance and image, he created a foreign policy horror show and a domestic clown college with fascist undertones for his nation. That’s hard to meld with his oath of office, taken twice.

Bush came into office with a huge budget surplus and a nation revered when not feared and always respected. We’re such an international basket case now, that nations which are dependent upon us, like Saudi Arabia, announced schedule conflicts to avoid being seen with him this week. They snub us, the United States. This is one step away from the British Queen canceling her trip here this summer because she has to do her hair.

Bush dismantled infrastructure maintenance right off and we’re paying the penalty now. From food inspection to hurricane protections, from national security to judicial purity, George W. Bush has not only lowered the bar into a deep ditch he’s asking us all to lie in it so he has a place to stand.

It is very important that we all distinguish how to proceed from this mess to regain a deserved stature from punishing those who led us in our willing ignorance to where we are. But no president has ever destroyed so much and left a nation so much weaker than when he took office. Not only his nation, but his own party.

It is, after all, the Republican conservative Senator Hagel who suggested impeachment as a viable option just last weekend. Not the Democrats.

Damn right, Senator.