Friday, November 03, 2006

Bush and Rove Put Politics Over the Nation

Nancy Reagan favors stem cell research but you don't see Republicans attacking her. Of course, they wouldn't dare. When Christopher Reeves could no longer play Superman after becoming a quadriplegic, he too called for stem cell research and most Republicans, at least in the beginning, treated him with decency. Of course, that was a very different era than the one we are experiencing just a few short years later. Personally attacking Michael J. Fox for advocating stem cell research is something I don't understand; in this era, right wing Republicans not only personally attack people, they ridicule them and make light of their disabilities.

In the Bush era, the Republicans who control the noise machine have lost their way. And George W. Bush and Karl Rove don't seem to believe what they say half the time. "Stay the course" or don't stay the course? We can easily imagine Rove telling Bush which words do better in the polls. Having no accomplishments or issues to run on, they have turned to cheap fiction writers for their campaign material and Karl Rove's protege, Ken Mehlman seems busy helping members of Congress write the worst ads seen in memory.

The New Times Editorial for Thursday had this to say:
As President Bush throws himself into the final days of a particularly nasty campaign season, he’s settled into a familiar pattern of ugly behavior. Since he can’t defend the real world created by his policies and his decisions, Mr. Bush is inventing a fantasy world in which to campaign on phony issues against fake enemies.

In Mr. Bush’s world, America is making real progress in Iraq. In the real world, as Michael Gordon reported in yesterday’s Times, the index that generals use to track developments shows an inexorable slide toward chaos. In Mr. Bush’s world, his administration is marching arm in arm with Iraqi officials committed to democracy and to staving off civil war. In the real world, the prime minister of Iraq orders the removal of American checkpoints in Baghdad and abets the sectarian militias that are slicing and dicing their country.

In Mr. Bush’s world, there are only two kinds of Americans: those who are against terrorism, and those who somehow are all right with it. Some Americans want to win in Iraq and some don’t. There are Americans who support the troops and Americans who don’t support the troops. And at the root of it all is the hideously damaging fantasy that there is a gulf between Americans who love their country and those who question his leadership.

Mr. Bush has been pushing these divisive themes all over the nation, offering up the ludicrous notion the other day that if Democrats manage to control even one house of Congress, America will lose and the terrorists will win.

Americans are increasingly concerned by Bush's flawed vision of the world and his flawed view of how a president should lead. A separate issue that was ignored for a time, and that has resurfaced in the last two years, is the general incompetence of Bush; but a president who lacks knowledge and expertise can find competent people to make up for his deficiencies as long as he has a reasonably sound vision. The problem is that Bush's vision is so flawed that he surrounds himself with people who share that flawed vision. And we are now in a mess.

It's not surprising that a president with a flawed vision is also one who is increasingly desperate. George W. Bush is under the mistaken impression that the presidency is about him, not the well-being of our nation. Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post has some things to say about Bush's divisiveness, including his fear-mongering:
If Democrats manage to take control of one or both houses of Congress on Tuesday, the reason will be that voters were not adequately roused into a state of heart-pounding, knee-knocking, teeth-chattering fear.

Not that Republicans haven't been trying. George W. Bush used to claim he was "a uniter, not a divider," but that was a long time ago. These days, he'd probably try to deny the quote the same way he tried to disown "stay the course." The Karl Rove formula for political victory has been to draw a bright line between "us" and "them" and then paint those on the other side not as opponents but as monsters.

Thus Bush openly accused those who disagree with his policy in Iraq of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. "The Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," he said the other day.

Call me naive, but I never thought a president of the United States would stoop so low as to accuse current and prospective members of Congress -- a number of whom, by the way, are decorated war veterans, unlike Bush or anyone in his inner circle -- of being pro-terrorist. But this administration has so lowered the bar on political discourse in this country that it's now more of a limbo stick: How low can you go?

Bush and his radical Republican allies are apparently testing the depths of desperation. And it's not doing our nation any good. On Nov. 7, if the voters turn out, our nation may be turning to the Democrats, at least in the House. But Bush will still be president. It's going to take time to turn this country around. Even within their own party, the Democrats have work to do, though there are good signs that Democrats in the next two years will be taking a pragmatic, common sense approach. Regardless of whether they hang on to power or not, the Republicans are going to have to rebuild their party on principles other than fear. And if, for some reason, the Democrats are unable to show wisdom, it could be time to turn to a third party.

On Nov. 8, if the Democrats win a house, the clock will be ticking. Being a Democrat, I hope my party comes through, but we are approaching a time when our problems, and perhaps opportunities, will be bigger than any political party.


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