Staying With No Staying-Power

It’s stunning how difficult it is to get stubborn people to change (or leave) when they have no shame.

Paul Wolfowitz over at the World Bank is an example, but we’re not lacking for others in this administration. Rumsfeld was and Gonzales is
yet a further example. The work of administering grinds to a halt, but
the Bush administration shudders on like a rudderless ship.

It’s stunning how difficult it is to get stubborn people to change (or leave) when they have no shame.
Paul Wolfowitz over at the World Bank is an example, but we’re not lacking for others in this administration. Rumsfeld was and Gonzales is
yet a further example. The work of administering grinds to a halt, but
the Bush administration shudders on like a rudderless ship.
Resting the spotlight for a moment on Paul, one has to wonder how the hell he continues to walk into his office in the face of no support at all.
The girl-friend’s contract is the excuse for canning him, but that’s a
put-up job. The reason everyone at the bank (and I mean everyone) wants
him out is his overpowering arrogance. Wolfowitz worked easily with no one
and jobs like president at the World Bank are largely about deference
and people-skills. Much like John Bolton over at the United Nations,
Paul acted as if he had a mandate where none existed. Even his personal
assistant has left in embarrassment.
Moving on from Wolfowitz, there’s a virtual smorgasbord of officials
staying on even though their staying-power is long gone. Stamina,
toughness, enduring strength and energy have been replaced by running
out the clock–a strategy of teams afraid to put the ball back in play.

The president heads that list, disapproved by a nearly three-to-one
margin, yet willing to take his party down to even greater defeat in
the 2008 election to save his—what?—reputation? Honor?
Both are beyond salvation. The sad fact is that this president would
destroy whatever is necessary to destroy, just to avoid admitting he
was wrong. He thinks (and is probably correct in thinking) that he can
ride this Congress through to the end of his term and blame the
Democratic administration that will undoubtedly follow his.
They lost the war, they ruined the military, they wrecked the economy, they left us vulnerable to attack, they brought us to our knees. If only they would have supported me, it would have all been different.
History need not agree. It will be enough for Bush to cut brush down
at the ranch and know in his confused and self-aggrandizing mind that
it would have all been different, should have been different, if America had only stayed the course.
The reasons that the wheels are coming off this presidency are
twofold.  First, its policies, from economics to military to civil
governance, were all based on lies. The proof of this, if proof were
needed, is that they did not allow the country into the processes that
shaped those policies.
No honest government would withhold from public knowledge the meetings within which energy policy was formed. Trustworthy
government would celebrate that process, boast of the industry leaders
who formed it and bring the country along on a tide of confidence.
Energy is but an example.
This is an administration forged in subterfuge, relying upon
misinformation and clandestine meetings, simultaneously stonewalling
the legal and congressional processes of inquiry. It had control of the
Congress, the Supreme Court and—most frightening and most injurious to our collective freedoms—the media.
Its method was to decry what was not the case. Ceaselessly beating
the drum of liberal bias in the press, radio and television, Bush
reveled in his control of them all. He knew he could get away
with it and he did. What media Republican business interests did not
control, he neatly intimidated by constantly calling them unpatriotic,
enablers of terrorism, lacking courage to respond to 9-11. The biggest
lie of all was that those close to the president were not themselves
guilty of just those charges.
But lies will out.
The second reason for wheels coming off is incompetence and it’s a heartbreaking charge to make against an administration in a time of national emergency. But there it is.
From the Pentagon through FEMA, Homeland Security, the Justice
Department, Veterans Administration, FDA, EPA, Agriculture, Commerce,
Education, Energy, Interior, and the State Department, each and every
day brings news of yet another disaster.
A huge part of that is due to presidential appointment. Every
incoming administration names a vast number of appointees to various
agencies. It’s part of the spoils of winning and has been abused to
larger or smaller degrees by Democrats and Republicans alike.
But this administration has, as a matter of policy that points directly to Karl Rove, inundated government with young and inexperienced professionals whose only litmus test was their evangelical conservative fervor.
This is exactly how we got a 23 year-old with no financial experience, laying out and dictating the details of an Iraqi stock exchange. This is how Monica Goodling, a 33 year-old with no prosecutorial or other legal experience became liaison between the Attorney General and the White House, with hiring and firing authority over senior prosecutors.
It was a Rove intention that Republicans would control the White
House for many election cycles yet to come. In that interim, these
young semi-fanatical adherents of evangelical policy would
significantly influence the vast number of governmental agencies among
whom they had been seeded. Chosen for philosophy over expertise and
exercising extraordinary control—in some agencies, all policy matters required their approval—they became a source of widespread failure in Iraq as well as domestically.
This sad state of affairs is the result of a bi-partisan failure.
The Republicans, perhaps for the only time in their history (okay,
twice then), governed ineptly and unconstitutionally.
The reason impeachment of the president and vice-president is
required has nothing at all to do with Bush-bashing and everything to
do with limiting presidential power. The goal of Dick Cheney and Don
Rumsfeld has been to un-limit the constitutional limits of
presidential power. They are still stung by Nixon’s resignation and
think that was avoidable, had the cover-up been better carried out.
They succeeded in powering, on the wings of 9-11, the most
incredible and outrageous power grab in the history of the presidency.
The purpose of an impeachment is not to punish, although that might make some feel good. The purpose
is to keep similar temptations from the hands of future presidents,
when the fates allow a convergence of national emergency and control of
all three branches of government by a single party.
Don’t think for a moment this is a uniquely Republican
danger—demagogues come in all colors and flavors and, like seeds in the
desert require only a unique circumstance to bloom and grow.
What makes this a bi-partisan failure is Nancy Pelosi’s taking impeachment ‘off the table’ in this congress.

She claims healing as her reason, but I doubt her integrity of
purpose. Nancy senses a ‘slam-dunk’ in the 2008 presidential election
and (in my view) wants no controversy to distract from that victory and
particularly no unnecessary awakening of the radical Republican base.
It goes without saying that a continuation of her job as Speaker of
the House is on the line as well. If Bush were impeached, an unlikely
but necessary undertaking, Pelosi would become president for a very
short period of time and another Speaker be elected in her place.
Pelosi considers a short and accidental presidency not even close to
the power and prestige of a long reign as the first woman Speaker of
the House. Thus is illustrated how politics ofttimes trumps good
government and not always at the hands of a particular party.
Meanwhile (as proven by Gonzales, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Bush) if
one’s skin is sufficiently thick, staying-power requires not much more
than the stubbornness to stay.
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