Wednesday, September 12, 2007

President I'm the Decider Becomes President Kick the Can

President Bush is determined to finish his presidency without doing anything for the American people or for our future. He is a failed president too blinded by ideology and pride to admit how deeply flawed his political philosophy has become and how much damage his decisions and sometimes lack of action have done to our nation. Like other authoritarian failures, Bush will spend much of the next ten years blaming others for failures even he cannot avoid.

The White House dog and pony show starring a compliant General Petraeus is designed to kick the can all the way to the next president. It is embarrassing. It is a travesty of a once reasonably functional (though at times flawed) bipartisan foreign policy.

Visualize this cartoon I wish someone would pen: there are two panels of a White House ceremony featuring President Bush. In the first panel, near the end of his presidency, Bush hangs another Medal of Freedom around yet another official who has given in to his White House public relations machine: in this case, it's General Petraeus and Bush says, "Thanks for your service." In the second panel, Bush hangs something quite different around a displeased Uncle Sam: this time it's the proverbial albatross with the word 'Iraq' in bold letters on the dead bird and Bush says, "Sorry, but I gotta go. It's all yours."

On one level, I'm not too interested in what General Petraeus has to say. A general does not set policy: he implements it. And there is no course at West Point that explains how to handle a dysfunction presidency whose only skill is a bizarre public relations machine that has helped an inept president far more than it should have. Petraeus seems to have a better idea of how to fight an insurgency that those who have preceded him but then, knowing an insurgency was like to result after the fall of Baghdad, where were the two dozen or so colonels and generals like Petraeus that we needed from day one when they might have been useful?

But then I forget. This is a war that never had much of a purpose. After five years of public relations to sell the war, no one is certain why we're there at this late date. What is wrong with Washington? We can put a considerable amount of blame on President Bush but he has had a host of enablers. Even today, most Republicans in Washington, being the odd right-wingers that they are, still support an Iraq policy that was never justified and that makes no sense. I don't blame the Democrats, an overwhelming majority of whom seem to get it for the most part. But the Democrats barely control the Senate and there's just enough confused Democrats in the House to make a slim majority more fragile than it ought to be. The only solution is to retire what has become a dysfunctional Republican leadership and give Democrats the numbers they need to prevail and to steer this country away from an authoritarian abyss from which this country may never recover if Republicans continue to dominate our national politics in the next five years.

Our nation, indeed the world, is facing major problems that requires capable people in Washington. We need more than the public relations illlusions provided by the usual right wing political machine that has become the Republican Party. Both parties, however, suffer from an affection for power that does not serve our country well. You cannot solve what are considerable problems facing our nation unless everyone has the facts. Real facts. If Democrats sometimes get caught up in the politics of the moment, they can respond if given the chance. Today's Republican leaders, however, now specialize in power, corruption and digging deep holes in the sand to put their heads in. Damage is being done and will continue if the behavior continues. We need reform. It doesn't get any more basic than that.

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