Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Is Wrong with George W. Bush?

I'm at a loss at what to make of President Bush. How do we explain his strange behavior over Hurricane Katrina? He was warned and did nothing. There it was on tape. We already pretty much knew that he ignored the warnings that the levees might break and that Hurricane Katrina was going to be a big one; but the media and Republicans were quick to make excuses for the guy and many of the rest of us figured that part of the problem might have been that his staff didn't try hard enough to get his attention. But that turns out not to be the case. We're faced with the fact that the president was told and did nothing. No, let me take that back; he was told and went off in the other direction to go play a guitar. All the jokes that were made about the guitar were closer to the truth than people realized.

These are the strangest of times. There are many elephants in the room and I don't mean Republicans. I mean those big animals in the middle of the living room that everybody pretends aren't there. Some of those elephants that are in the room are sitting right there on the floors of the House and Senate while almost all the Republicans and even a fair number of Democrats walk around them. The biggest elephant in the room is simply this: something is wrong with George W. Bush and some of us are not sure that incompetence and arrogance cover it any more. You know the Republicans suspect the same thing but won't say it. An article in the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau alludes to it but doesn't quite confront it fully but it does suggest some reporters are close to raising issues that need to be raised about Bush:
GOP growing increasingly angry,
frightened by Bush's missteps

By Steven Thomma and James Kuhnhenn
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - President Bush, once the seemingly invincible vanguard of a new Republican majority, could be endangering his party's hold on power as the GOP heads into this year's midterm congressional elections.

A series of political missteps has raised questions about the Bush administration's candor, competence and credibility and left the White House off-balance, off-message and unable to command either the nation's policy agenda or its politics the way the president did during his first term.

This week, newly released video of Bush listening passively to warnings about the dire threat posed by Hurricane Katrina and a report that intelligence analysts warned for more than two years that the insurgency in Iraq could swell into a civil war provided fresh fodder for charges that the president ignores unwelcome alarms.


Growing doubts about the administration's case for and conduct of the war in Iraq have kept the president from reversing his slide, and now his administration's missteps are making it even harder for him to regain his footing.

When conservatives challenged the ports deal, for example, Bush threatened to veto any legislation blocking it, then all but accused his critics of racism for opposing an Arab company.
The word used in the headline is 'frightened.' Now that's a good word because it tests the gestalt of the moment. The reporter can always say he was referring to the chances of Republicans in November. But it's a loaded word. Republicans should be frightened. For once, they might have to do something responsible. And they have spent many years doing their best to avoid responsibililties as they fulfill promises made to campaign contributors with deep pockets.

Let me point to one other thing in the Knight Ridder article. Bush has raised the racism issue in relation to the Dubai deal. I have no doubt that a certain amount of racism towards Arabs and, to a lesser extent, Muslims, is indeed involved in the distrust of the Dubai deal; racism, I might add, that George W. Bush himself has contributed to for political reasons over the last four and a half years. One of the reasons Bush is in trouble is that he cannot resolve all his contradictions.

Bush can hardly talk about democracy in the Middle East and play semantics games about torture in places like Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. He can hardly talk about elections and freedom around the world when in our own country he does nothing to protect voter rights; at the barest minimum, it is a travesty that there are places in our country where people in poor areas have to wait as long as three hours to vote while people in middle class areas wait less than twenty minutes. And it leaves millions of Americans bewildered that Bush can talk about a prosperous economy while ignoring the problems of New Orleans and its hundreds of thousands of scattered residents month after month. The list of contradictions is long but let me add one more; Bush can hardly talk about supporting our troops at the same time he cuts benefits for veterans and shovels barrels of money into the pockets of the wealthy.

Even Bush's style is increasingly harder to reconcile. He makes promises to the nation one day and a few days later he shows indifference to the same issue. We know Bush is rather incompetent. We know he mangles the language. We know he surrounds himself with yes men and yes women and cronies. We know from his own father's words that George W. is thin-skinned. We know that he is arrogant. We know that at critical moments in the last five years he has not told us the truth when he clearly had an obligation to do so. But all of that doesn't explain his behavior during Hurricane Katrina. Nor his behavior on August 6, 2001, when he received a warning about Osama bin Laden. Is it callousness? Boredom? Indifference? Too many years of alcohol? A political philosophy darker than he lets on?

We have a problem and Congress needs to deal with it. And we have to deal with the fact that Cheney and Rumsfeld have fueled many of the failures of this administration; and Bush has never done anything beyond pr masssage to address the many blunders of those two Nixonian figures.

I know that it doesn't feel like it at times but there is still much that is right about our country. But a number of things are wrong and they begin with the president and most people know it. And it's time to recover who we are as a nation, a nation of laws, a nation slow sometimes to recognize problems, but one that eventually does the right thing.


Blogger Kvatch said...

Bush has raised the racism issue in relation to the Dubai deal.

I read that as well, and herein, I suppose, is another problem. Arabs are caucasians, as are latinos, and a whole host of other "white" peoples. Racism...phooey! Bush is just trying to find anything he can use to shore up his shoody defense of the deal.

Perhaps the word Bush really needs is "Xenophobia," but I doubt he could pronounce it.

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Craig said...

kvatch, thanks for your comment. I suppose the other word that should be used is bogeyman. In my memory (just barely), the classic case was the 1950s when the John Birch Society was convinced there was a communist under every rock.

There are real threats in the world that honest conservatives, moderates and liberals can handle very well but, in the last hundred years, conservatives have done very well when they have managed to scare people out of proportion to any realilty.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Joyful Alternative said...

Perhaps all the Republicans are not as confident as the president that the Rapture will rescue them from reaping what they've sown.

4:49 AM  
Blogger Jenifer D. said...

I wonder how he sleeps at night, knowing he is dragging America, kicking and screaming, into a new Dark Age. Too many of his policies are parallel to those of Hitler; do the math. Hitler committed suicide before allowing himself to be made accountable for the many misdeeds in his life.....will history repeat itself?

12:59 AM  

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