Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Stress Fractures And Megalomania

There is no doubt in my mind that being President of the United States is a job which takes its toll on its occupant. One only has to contrast the young and vibrant former Governor Bill Clinton, wailing sax on the Arsenio Hall Show, with the graying elder statesman that pals around with Bush the Smarter today. Bill paid a high price for being the most powerful man in the world.

So it goes that the ideological monolith which is the Bush administration is finally beginning to crack under the strain. Of course, what appeared to be the king's tower of Republican dominance in Washington, built of crony capitalism mortared with conservative moral muck, is really just a glass house (stained, of course). The leak scandal, the Plame investigation, the illegal wiretapping scandal, Big Time Veep shooting Republican donors in the face, retired generals joining the chorus against Rummy, Iraqis throwing things other than flowers and candy; the list is long and the stress is piling up.

So much so, that the Decider in Chief got a little steamed with the press yesterday over questions about whether Secretary MacNama...oops, I mean, Rumsfeld, should resign (via Taylor Marsh at firedoglake):

"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But IÂ’m the decider, and I decide what is best. And whatÂ’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense." - President George W. Bush

Apparently Bush is finally beginning to realize he's just an empty suit for the Republican party; a brand name, a fund raiser. More importantly, at least to true men of power like Rumsfeld and Cheney, Bush is the ultimate scapegoat. All of their mistakes will rest in the Oval Office, right on the desk of the "decider", while they continue to push the conservative movement to its most absurd ends.

What's most striking to me in the temper tantrum by Bush is the disdain he has for the American people. He must truly believe in his divinely-inspired appointment to the Presidency in order to utter such nonsense. Rumsfeld as well, with his casual dismissal of any voice critical of the Iraq debacle. One can hear an almost authoritarian bent in the rantings of Bush and Rumsfeld at their respective press conferences. Their obvious belief that their decisions should be beyond question or critique is contrary to the most basic notions of democracy. Further, the hypocrisy of both men is astounding, given their repetitive claims that military leaders would determine our best strategy in Iraq. If that's so, then why the hostility towards these retired generals, not one of which has actually spoken out against the war? These are men that largely support the mission in Iraq, but have taken issue with the way that mission is being conducted by the top civilian leadership. Perhaps a president less in love with the levers of executive power, and expanding the pull of those levers, would recognize valuable criticism when it's given. Not "the decider", however. In his megalomaniacal little mind, authority, his authority, even when vested in others, is sacrosanct. Apparently Bush wants democracy in Iraq so badly he's willing to give them ours.

[As I write this, I note that Li'l Scottie McClellan has finally tired of being Bush's Propaganda Minister. A lucrative consultancy no doubt awaits the now former General Manager of Mendacity for the Bush administration. I'm certain the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation can always use another rightwing stalwart, especially one who has spent time in charge of deceiving the media about the true nature of Republican governance. There are only so many ways to sell war for the poor and tax cuts for the rich to the American people; new blood is needed all the time and Scottie should fit right in. ]

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