Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What Might Have Been

Yes, that is Howard Dean behind the desk of the "Oval Office".

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Good Dubya" vs. "Evil Dubya"

Remember the episode of classic Star Trek where there is a transporter accident and Captain Kirk gets divided into two people? One is the Good Kirk, the Kirk who has compassion and kindness for those around him. The other is the Evil Kirk, the Kirk who just wants to take what he wants and f*ck everyone elses feelings.

I am reminded of this episode while considering the possibility of a George W. Bush without Karl Rove.

Dubya, during his father's administration, had the job of "enforcer". It was his job to deliver the bad news and to come down hard on people who needed coming down hard on. And according to all reports I have read, Bush actually seemed to relish the job. There is a mean streak to Bush that reappears throughout his history. At least up until he was "born again" according to his hagiography. The story goes that when Bush "came to Jesus" he became a more peacable man. Put down the bottle. And started his elevation to the pinnacle of power he has reached today.

The only problem with this narrative is that, even if we concede the idea that Bush himself has personally reformed, he still surrounds himself with a posse of heavy hitters that are as mean a bunch of bastards as there is. And Karl Rove is the meanest of the mean bastards. Like his master Bush, Rove relishes the prospect of fucking over opponents. He lives for the kill. His mean streak puts even Bush's earlier reputation to shame.

Yet Bush, the godly man, keeps this little troll around. Worse, he allows Rove to essentially define the agenda that Bush will pursue. How does this reconcile with Bush's reformed image?

Well, it doesn't, at least to an outside observer. But it works fine for Dubya because Dubya has, in effect, split himself into two halves. There is the Good Dubya, who can be the humble leader of a great people. But there is also the Evil Dubya, who relishes a knock down fight that rubs his critic's faces in the dirt. Bush can't have Evil Dubya around if he is to main his image of himself as the good guy. So what does he do?

Easy, he hires a surrogate (Rove) to do all the mean and nasty things Bush would like to do himself but which just isn't allowed for a "good upstanding Christian man" like himself.

With Rove to act as his bastard Bush can continue on through life as the good one.

Which is why Bush is so stressed out at the prospect of losing Rove. If Rove goes away, Bush will either have to find a new bastard to match his innate mean streak (a tough call, even in Washington, D.C.) or he will have to re-incorporate that bastard side back into himself

Rove is the evil Bush. Bush wants to continue to be the good Bush. But he can't do that if he loses Rove.

No wonder he is stressed!

(Please note that while I use the term "Good Dubya" I don't mean to imply that I think Bush is actually a good guy. I am talking only about his own self-image. Bush is still a bastard. All this is just a psychological mechanism he uses to divorce himself from the responsibility for his mean side.)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Bush is falling

And not just in the polls

(courtesy AmericaBlog)

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Day In The Life Of Joe Republican

This has apparently made the rounds before, but it deserves repeating:


Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.

The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Impeaching the President

Some may find it shocking that, in a recent poll, 50% of Americans would support impeaching Bush if he lied about the reason for going to war in Iraq. But what I find shocking is that 44% appear to think it is acceptable for the President to lie about war!

I know that partisanship can account for about 30% of that 44%. But obviously there is a significant number of Americans who think lying about war is just fine.

(I suppose its possible that some responders misunderstood the question to be whether Bush should in fact be impeached now rather than later IF it is shown that he lied.)

Arrogance and Disconnect: A Bad Sign

Sherrod Brown comments on the anger generated by his decision to get back in the Ohio race:

Brown dismisses the controversy his decision has sparked as a "tempest in a teapot." He insists that "nobody recruited me to run against Paul Hackett." And though Hackett says Brown told him point-blank that he wasn't running, Brown maintains that he was simply wrestling with whether to run because of family considerations. "If your readers or others can't understand that, then so be it, but my family comes first," the congressman says. "Paul Hackett is a decent man, he served his country," he adds, "but no one is entitled to a Senate nomination."

Am I alone in finding these comments to be incredibly arrogant?

Look, I have no stake in either Hackett or Brown as the Dem nominee. I am from Oregon, not Ohio. Let Ohioans decide.

But Brown displays an incredible level of arrogance and disconnect with his "tempest in a teapot" comment. As he knows all to well, the decision to run for an office as high as U.S. Senator is not one to be made lightly. No doubt Paul Hackett has had to do a lot of serious thinking about this. For him to come to the decision to go for is not a small deal.

But now Brown comes out and acts all surprised that people are upset at the way he has handled this?

Give me a break Sherrod! If this is an example of your PR skills then I fear for Democratic prospects in Ohio if he is the nominee. I haven't seen cluelessness of this caliber since John Kerry told Democrats that it was time to "get over" the 2000 election.

I'll be the first to admit I don't know anything about Brown's liberal credentials. But his performance so far in this race leaves a lot to be desired.

No one is entitled to the nomination and that includes you Congressman Brown.

Update: Just in case it wasn't clear from the above, I am not taking sides in this fight. My natural sympathies are with Hackett because I know him better than Brown (this dustup is my first exposure to him). But I am from Oregon, not Ohio. Let Ohioans decide.

The truth is that neither side in this situation has demonstrated the maturity required.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A contrary view

As a rebuttal to my own post below, there is one possible alternate reading to the nomination of Meiers. The pattern in Bush's second term has been to nominate close associates to positions of power (Condi to State, Gonzales to Justice, etc.) Meiers could just be the next iteration of that pattern. Andrew Sullivan makes the point:

Think of her as a very capable indentured servant of the Bush family. She'll do what they want. She'll be a very, very tough nut to crack in the hearings. And I have no idea about her judicial philosophy. But I imagine that's the point. When I described her as a flunky last July, a source close to Bush told me: "Don't mess with Harriet." I think they've found someone whose personal loyalty to Bush exceeds even Gonzales'. And in some ways, I see this very personal, very crony appointment to be a response to being told he couldn't pick his main man, Alberto. Harriet is his main woman. I reserve judgment on her fitness to serve on the court.

Bush may not have made a political calculation at all in making this appointment. He may have just decided that he wanted a sycophant on the court and if, as Andrew suggests, he couldn't get Gonzalez, at least he would get Meiers.

Bush likes to get his way. As much as Bush has a history of screwing over enemies, he also has a history of screwing over friends. It is possible that the pushback he received from the wingers on the idea of nominating Gonzalez just pissed him off enough that he decided to stick it to them with Meiers.

Just another example of his legendary petulence?

Bush really is weak

I was at a house party two weeks back and we were discussing who would be the next nominee for the Supreme Court. Someone opined that Bush was to politically weak right now to nominate someone controversial. I disagreed. I said that it is a hallmark of Bush and Rove's political style to make a strong attack just when everyone else is advising them to play it safe. Think back to the first year of his first term when everyone was talking about how Bush couldn't afford to do anything extreme because of the controversial way in which he assumed power. Bush defied the conventional wisdom and struck out with an agenda of breathtaking scope. And, for the most part, he got pretty much all he asked for.

That's the kind of "boldness" I've come to expect from Bush.

So, when the question of the next nominee came up, I assumed that Bush and Rove would use the opportunity to deny the beltway wisdom and instead go for a candidate who would be a real stick in the eye to the Dems and a big rallying point for his base.

I was wrong. Bush this morning nominated Harriet Meiers, a close friend and his personal lawyer and someone who has virtually no public record on the most controversial issues of the day.

She is the epitome of a "safe" nomination. There is virtually nothing about her to hang a controversy on. But there is also virtually nothing about her that can be a rallying point. The reaction of Bush supporters is already running the gamut from disappointment to outrage. This is the candidate they've been waiting 20 years for? This is the candidate they were promised who would finally provide the 5th vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? This was the anti-Souter?

It is important to remember that the promise of a nominee in the "mold of Scalia and Thomas" was the promise that kept the right-wingers rallying around Bush even as he busted the budget and did lots of other things that didn't please them all that much. They were repeatedly reassured that if they just waited they would get what they wanted. If they just worked to get Bush in office he would eventually give them their dream. Many of them believed that this nomination was THE nomination.

The sound you hear coming from the right is the sound of that dream shattering.

Now we really don't know what kind of justice Meiers will be. She could be a Souter. She could be a Thomas. Hell, she could even be a Stevens (remember, he was nominated by Nixon!)

But what we can say about this nomination is that Bush wouldn't have made it if his personal sense of invulnerability was as strong as it was in 2001. Not only is Bush weak, he KNOWS he is weak and that is a profoundly significant change in the political dynamic.