The A B C’s of Panic at the White House

When the president is so weak that his only remaining weapon is the
veto, the first whisperings of panic can be heard in the corridors of
the west wing. The corridors are emptying out, except for Gonzales and

When the president is so weak that his only remaining weapon is the
veto, the first whisperings of panic can be heard in the corridors of
the west wing. The corridors are emptying out, except for Gonzales and
With near-record deaths in Iraq last month and an early trend this
month to top that number, the tremble ushered Dan Bartlett toward an
exit before the roof fell and Dan was one of those expected to go down
with the ship. Bartlett’s spent his entire career at the side of the
So, what’s a harried president to do when no one believes, Dan
leaves, Alberto deceives? Who is there to share the blame when Rummy,
Feith, Perle, Libby, Gerson, Wolfowitz, Powell, Veneman, Paige and
Abraham have hit the bricks and there’s no one to make up a quorum but
Cheney, Gonzales and the Prez himself? Time for a new playbook by the
Shazzam! Thy will be done.
A is for climAte.

Bush will take his vowels where he finds them and if the A is five
letters down in the word, so what? Getting out from in front of the
juggernaut called climate change, that threatens to run him down at the
G-8 in Germany, Bush calls for ‘talks’ on warming. Crimey, the rest of
the world has already done all that, George. You weren’t paying
attention. There’s precious little talking left to be done before our feet get wet.

“In recent years, science has deepened our
understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for
confronting it,” Bush said. “The United States takes this issue
seriously. The new initiative I am outlining today will contribute to
the important dialogue that will take place in Germany next week.”

Um, you going to serve that with whipped cream and strawberries, George?

National Environmental Trust president Philip Clapp
said, ”This is a transparent effort to divert attention from the
president’s refusal to accept any emissions reductions proposals at
next week’s G-8 summit. After sitting out talks on global warming for
years, the Bush administration doesn’t have very much credibility with
other governments on the issue. ” (Associated Press)

Well, of course it is, Phil. It’s a diversionary tactic from a divisionary White House.
B is for Billion
the $30 billion or so George is touting for AIDS in Africa while he
shortchanges NASA the $6.5 billion it needs to extend and maintain the
monitoring of global warming from various satellites (that’s about 20
days of the Iraq war budget). The United States takes this issue
(warming) seriously, but only in the headlines, not in the bread lines.
AIDS in Africa has been at the top of the list of White House
under-funded and over-discussed initiatives. The Bush base doesn’t have
a high opinion of folks who contract AIDS, so the prez has pulled most
of the remaining teeth from this nearly toothless program. No needles
for needle-sharing, no condoms, no real information other than to stop
having sex. Not a big winner platform.

“Once again, the generosity of the American people is
one of the great untold stories of our time,” he said. “Our citizens
are offering comfort to millions who suffer, and restoring hope to
those who feel forsaken.”

Comfort and hope, but still no needles or condoms. Dan Bartlett,
counselor to Mr. Bush, said the president intended to address climate
change in a speech on Thursday at the United States Agency for International Development. It’s unclear if that statement was made before or after Dan opted to spend more time with his family.
According to the NYTimes, the White House said that in addition to providing treatment
for 2.5 million, the new money would prevent 12 million new infections
and provide care for more than 12 million people.
Mr. Bartlett said the president was convinced America’s image in the
world would improve because of it. Which is what this is really all

“I’ve heard him talk about this is a part of America that gets
overlooked,” he said, “and that over time, people will look back and
say, ‘At a point in time where America may have been under scrutiny for
other reasons, look at the significant contribution they have made.
They saved more lives than anybody could have imagined.’ ” (NYTimes)

On Tuesday, Mr. Bush announced he was imposing
stiff economic sanctions on Sudan to press its government into
cooperating with a United Nations peacekeeping force that is trying to
end the violence in Darfur.
On Wednesday, in addition to the AIDS announcement, Mr. Bush
named Robert B. Zoellick, his former trade representative, as his
candidate to head the World Bank, calling the nominee “a committed
internationalist” who “wants to help struggling nations defeat
In Thursday’s speech, Mr. Bush also intends to talk about education programs in the developing world, and his initiative to combat malaria.

My god, the man is a veritable dervish of activity. The G-8 meeting must really have him spooked.
C is for Zoellick and if you think that makes no sense,
George doesn’t either. He was perfectly happy with Paul Wolfowitz over
at the World Bank until Paul self-destructed in much the same way as
the even less talented Roberto Gonzales. Wolfy’s underlings staged a
revolt. Arrogance and incompetence, those twin pillars of the Bush
administration, had their way and the price has been paid.
For Wolfowitz, the price was the international embarrassment of
watching him beg, plead and grovel for his job. The further price was
worldwide evidence of just how thin the Bush appointment actually was—a
mile wide and an inch deep. Suffice it to say that Gonzales has even
less shame that Wolfy. Paul was crafty, haughty and a poor
administrator in a job that is mostly administration. Gonzales is the
definition of an empty suit, too embarrassing for anyone but Bush to
Halfway across the world, Bob Zoellick is  now in the process of the
‘European tour’ that was popular among debutantes of the 1930’s. Like
driftwood in a hurricane, Paul’s likely to be well received and the
Europeans much relieved.
On the way to his G-8 discomfort, the president is stopping off in
Prague to shake a few hands and try to put his Star Wars radar program
on track. 70% of Czechs are energetically opposed to the use of their
country as a surrogate for American military incursion in Europe.
Lessons A, B and C in Karl Rove’s book of slippery governance are to
change the topic when it’s impossible to change the subject.
Media comment;

1 thought on “The A B C’s of Panic at the White House

  1. I run a website that discusses global warming so I feel that I have a handle on most of the pertinent issues.
    In my opinion, Mr. Bush is simply giving into politics. This isn't surprising – he is a politician. With the elections coming up in about 18 months he needs to set up for a successor from the Republican party. He cannot allow the Democratic candidates to make global warming a huge issue so it only makes political sense to agree to some types of talks and discussions.
    It is interesting though that when Mr. Bush acts as an administrator (the job he gets paid for) he has said that the science does not support dramatic changes in our economy – hence the US did not sign the Kyoto document.

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