Hail the Kennebunkport Texan
The nation’s ultimate fraud
Who listens to no one
And talks only to God
Somehow I miss the days of yore when presidential scandals were so infrequent that we were able to spend months if not years digesting them. Even Nixon and Watergate, although based on the paranoid weakness of a human in over his emotional head, was a single string of sin wrapped around the fear that if Nixon did not cheat, he could not defeat the Democrats. This single scandal lasted for months in the second term of a brittle president. The plumbers’ revelations dripped slowly into the public view and eventually uncovered a small and venal man who used dirty tricks to feed his fears. He kept an “enemies” list. He was a pathetic and whimpering figure on the American stage from the early days of “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore,” to his exit stage right at his resignation. Nixon never held the nation hostage nor did he threaten the lives of millions across the sea. He may even have meant well, except on a personal level to those whom he saw as competitors for citizen love and respect. Nixon had both grandiosity and littleness simultaneously.
G. W. Bush, on the other hand, has made a career out of demanding personal loyalty resembling worship in order that nobody should ever mistake his authority. He is the first and only president to abolish the military titles for area commanders such as CINCPAC (Commander-in-Chief, Pacific), or CINCSOUTHCOM, etc. His explanation was: “There is only one Commander-in-Chief and that’s me.” In that way, he has outdone Nixon’s paranoia. More, he has virtually made a career out of appearance over substance, perhaps to protect that fragile self. His belief in image is so strong that he has actually hired a PR firm to convince the Iraqis that things are improving there. Loyalty, Extreme Edition then has become his road to the throne and the trail of tears for his minions and eventually for himself. His selection of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld showed both a strength and a weakness in the sense that loyalty was extended to Donald far beyond the time when the rest of the world knew that Rumsfeld was a failure. George wanted the war in Iraq but Donald planned it badly and brow beat the generals that he did not fire. The result was that Bush got his way, but got it badly.
Competence was not in the formula for planning the war or executing the peace. When General Garner began to rebuild Iraq using Iraqis, Rumsfeld and Bush were appalled and demanded the firing of Arabic speaking diplomats and administrators who had decided to limit removal of only the top 3 levels of Baathists. Soon, they replaced Garner with Bremer and enforced a no-Baathist policy that instantaneously placed Iraqi Army colonels on down into the ranks of the unemployed. Thus was born the insurgency that they both denied existed. The error was firing low level Baathists, but the punishment was to disloyal political and military officials who dared to use the word “insurgency.” The criteria for administrators sent to function for the Bush Administration in Iraq were essentially loyalty tests in order to be assigned. The most famous was Jay Hallen, a 24-year-old evangelist college graduate who was given the responsibility to set up the Iraqi stock exchange. He had zero experience or schooling in preparation for the assignment. O’Beirne was Bush’s pick for staffing the recovery program for Iraq and his staff looked for deep Republican roots to make their selections. The candidates were asked questions re their position on Roe v. Wade and how they voted in the 2000 election, but relevant competence was not a priority. As we flooded Iraq with the loyal and incompetent, the constant anthem was to support George Bush’s “vision for Iraq.” They wore Bush-Cheney 2004 T-shirts and swore allegiance to the Mad King George.
Katrina was the pinnacle of loyalty uber alles. We all remember, “You are doing a heck of a job, Brownie!” Since then, we have seen the mysterious disappearance of 364 tons of hundred dollar bills in Iraq, torture scandals beyond Abu Ghraib, Canary Cunningham, Abramoff does DC, abrogation of the Geneva Convention, Pat Tillman mythology, outing of a secret agent, criminal neglect at Walter Reed, firing of US Attorneys and Attorney General Gonzales is changing stories like diapers with similar smells and reasons. Surrounded by both loyalty and incompetence, just who does Bush talk to? It is obvious that he does not listen to anybody having contrary ideas, even if it is the American electorate. Could he be talking to God and not listening when God talks to him? Could it also be that God has a contrary opinion?
31 March 2007