OVERTURE: Now we’ve lost both Steve Gilliard and Molly Ivins — two vital, feisty, great-writer journalist/blogger voices speaking truth to power. And Cindy Sheehan’s voice will be more muted now, as she recovers from her immensely draining anti-war battles. All three were essential to the building of our current Movement. The progressive community holds them dearly to our collective heart — and Cindy will return re-energized, we hope.
ACT 1: SURVIVAL OF THE UNFITTEST
When trying to figure out the motives of the Bush Administration on nearly any issue you can think of, the first place to look should always be Karl Rove’s “politics” workshop. By “politics,” I mainly mean how an action affects the survival of the CheneyBush Administration, and only incidentally with how it affects the Republican Party.
This solipsistic concern for their own political/economic welfare is as true today with regard to the various impeachable scandals — lying to Congress to foment wars, the outing of a covert CIA agent, the domestic spying program, U.S. Attorney firings, etc. — as it was in the first years of the CheneyBush Administration.
We were told in those early years, by a White House insider, of the predominance of Rove’s political operation in deciding which policies the Administration would advocate and support. Whoops! Strike that word “predominance,” since there was virtually no policy-making apparatus in the White House; politics was effectively the ONLY thing in play.
“KIDS ON BIG WHEELS”
That insider was John DiIulio, who was the first chief of Bush’s faith-based-funding operation — another politics-based scheme, this one designed to pay off the fundamentalist base with grants of public funds to religious groups. DiIulio in 2002 put his finger right on the button of why the CheneyBush Administration has been such a train-wreck. Here’s his money-quote in Ron Suskind’s January 2003 article in Esquire:
There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis. … When policy analysis is just backfill, to back up a political maneuver, you’ll get a lot of ooops.
Suskind writes: “An unnamed ‘current senior White House official’ [said] pretty much the same thing: ‘Many of us feel it’s our duty — our obligation as Americans — to get the word out that, certainly in domestic policy, there has been almost no meaningful consideration of any real issues. It’s just kids on Big Wheels, who talk politics and know nothing. It’s depressing. DPC (Domestic Policy Council) meetings are a farce’.”
IRAQ IN ‘O6, IRAQ in ’08
It must be obvious to everyone by now that the CheneyBush Administration has no intention of getting out of Iraq, and recent events have served as confirmation. Bush and his Press Secretary Tony Snow blathered on the other day about the U.S. staying on in Iraq as it has in South Korea for 54 years. Defense Secretary Gates confirmed that policy a few days ago that America might well stay in its hardened military bases in Iraq for many decades.
Plus, the U.S. is constructing the world’s largest embassy, which CheneyBushRove envision will be the locus for U.S. political and military adventures in the greater Middle East for decades to come. Bush is quoted in a Dallas newspaper telling Texas friends that he is setting up Iraq so his successor can not get out of “our country’s destiny.”
But the prospect of the U.S. troops being bled to death by a thousand “insurgent” cuts over that time frame is not something the American citizenry might look on with favor, so there’s always a countervailing political spin going on to create confusion and try to take the sting out. And, surprise!, that spin gets spun as a new election cycle in America comes into play.
IRAQ WITHDRAWAL-TALK THEN
Do you remember what happened in Iraq prior to the all-important 2006 midterm election? Here’s how arch-conservative Pat Buchanan ( www.antiwar.com/pat/?articleid=6812 reported it in July of 2005:
Standing beside our defense secretary in Baghdad, Prime Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari called for the speedy withdrawal of U.S. forces. The top U.S. commander, Gen. George Casey, also standing beside Rumsfeld, said ‘fairly substantial’ withdrawals of the 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq could begin by spring…
Casey’s comment lends credence to a secret British defense memo that described U.S. officials as favoring a ‘relatively bold reduction in force numbers.’ The memo pointed to a drawdown of Allied forces from 170,000 today to 66,000 by next summer, a cut of over 60 percent.
Previously, the administration had denounced war critics who spoke of timetables, arguing that they signal the enemy to go to earth, build its strength, and strike weakened U.S. forces during the pullout. Now, America’s top general is talking timetables.
But, of course, major withdrawals of American troops never happened and any ideas about timetables were scrapped. It was all spin designed for the 2006 midterm election, to help the Republicans maintain their majorities in the House and Senate. (The Roveian ploy didn’t work, as the American public, tired of being bamboozled yet again, threw the GOP bums out and installed Democratic majorities.)
IRAQ WITHDRAWAL-TALK NOW
These days, even amidst the talk of America remaining in Iraq for decades, the Administration is engaging in feints and spin about the possibility of the U.S. withdrawing tens of thousands of troops prior to the 2008 election — the election, it just so happens, that will decide which party controls the Executive Branch (and presidential pardons) for the next four years.
Just a few weeks ago, anonymous “senior administration officials” leaked to the New York Times that the Iraq plan being considered calls “for a reduction in forces that could lower troop levels [in] the midst of the 2008 presidential election to roughly 100,000, from about 146,000…”
Do they think we’re that stupid not to see through their unbelievable, pre-election B.S.? Wait, don’t answer that question.
Clearly, the Congressional Republicans have got to figure out a way to seem to be supporting Bush’s war while not being associated with it in any way. They know that support for the war is poison at the polls and that they’ll lose their jobs in a crushing defeat in 2008 unless the Iraq War news starts turning positive and quickly. So spinning the possibility of troop withdrawals is to their partisan benefit.
But those withdrawals ain’t gonna happen. The Bush Administration, led by Cheney and Rumsfeld, launched an unnecessary war, botched its implementation and occupation, and helped foment a sectarian civil war. There is no way, at least not at this stage, that Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again, no way that the U.S. comes out looking good.
All the options at this stage are awful, but some, such as withdrawal ASAP, are less onerous than the others. Staying in-country, presumably hunkered down in hardened military bases on Iraqi soil, is no solution at all, good, bad or otherwise. It turns American troops into stationary targets for mortar and rocket attacks on the bases and moving targets and potential political hostages once they drive off them. CheneyBush simply refuse to acknowledge that most Iraqis do not want foreigners permanently occupying their country.
ACT 2: 2008 IS ALL THAT MATTERS
Am I making this up, that all policy is filtered through a Rovian political prism — even, or especially, U.S. strategy in Iraq? Don’t take my word for it. Check out what the Washington Post’s former Baghdad Bureau Chief, Rajiv Chandrasekeran, reported in his book, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City.”
As Chandrasekeran reports, the Coalition Provisional Authority overseeing the U.S. occupation in the first few years was an ongoing disaster, run by incompetent bunglers who could not talk or think straight. Supposedly the CPA was preparing the ground for a functioning democracy in Iraq — based on setting up a privatized, free-market “libertarian paradise,” heedless of cultural/historical realities — but since the CPA had FUBAR-ed the situation so totally, Chandrasekeran wrote:
What was best for Iraq [in 2004] was no longer the standard. What was best for Washington was the new calculus. … The only election that mattered was the one in November — in the United States.
And that’s where we are today both with regard to policy in and about Iraq, and domestic policy as well. Unless it helps Rove lay the groundwork for a GOP presidential victory in 2008 — achieved by hook or by crook — forget about it.
THE U.S. ATTORNEYS SCANDAL
We now know, based on the evidence that has surfaced in the past several months, that the presidential vote in November of 2008 is what lies at the heart of the U.S. Attorneys scandal. Rove has a long history of winning elections by any means necessary; one of his main ways of doing this is to encourage the removal of hundreds of thousands of likely Democratic voters from the precinct rolls in key states, by illegal or unethical means. Usually, these voters are simply bumped from the rolls; most of them live in vulnerable minority areas.
In addition, many of the fired U.S. attorneys in those key states were leaned on by Rove and his minions to file criminal charges against individuals or groups registering new Democratic voters and to do so before the elections. It didn’t matter if the charges were unsubstantiated or ridiculous — file the charges, smear the Dems and their supporters prior to the balloting, make them spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the indictments, scare away wavering voters who might vote Democratic, etc. For example, New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney David Iglesias says he was fired because he wouldn’t file what he called “bogus” charges of “voter fraud” before the election.
As the U.S. attorneys scandal unravels, the situation inside Alberto Gonzales’ Department of Justice has been revealed to be even more outrageous: The DOJ, it turns out, is basically run as an arm of the White House’s political operation: inquiring about ideology and party affiliation (which is illegal) before appointing applicants to judicial jobs, staffing the Civil Rights Division with those antagonistic to civil rights and thus not following the law, etc. And other government agencies are similarly infected as well, holding workplace seminars on ways to aid “our candidates,” which is also illegal, etc.
It’s abundantly clear that Gonzales will not resign and will not be fired; he’s the consiglieri in the White House mob, knowing too much about the various illegalities to be cut loose. The House should initiate impeachment hearings of Gonzales ASAP.
EPILOGUE: CHENEYBUSH MUST GO SOONEST
Likewise, Bush and Cheney will not resign. They are prepared to sacrifice thousands of more troops in Iraq — and perhaps put them in danger over Iran as well — in order to further their imperial policies in the greater Middle East. During the next year and a half of their scheduled tenure, the damage CheneyBush can do is immense: further destruction of constitutional protections, fomenting more terrorist anger, ruining America’s reputation even more through aggressive wars and through other policies as well; even on global warming, for example, Bush is unwilling to do anything meaningful, other than to delay and delay until he leaves office.
The only way out of this reckless nightmare endangering America’s national security is to initiate impeachment hearings at once against Cheney and Bush. Once their “high crimes and misdemeanors” are laid out as evidence for all the public to see, it’s conceivable that many Republicans will join the effort to convict, if for no other reason than to hang on to their Congressional positions in the 2008 election. It’s won’t be done maliciously — it’s just politics.