Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

To the cronies go the spoils

Gene Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2005
"It ain’t what you don’t know that will hurt you, it’s what you think you know that ain’t so."—Will Rogers
The most telling description of the Bush administration may have come from a White House aide who used the term" reality-based" as an insult. According to journalist Ron Suskind, who described the incident in a 2004 New York Times Magazine article, the aide mocked the stuffy, pedantic, presumably liberal view "that solutions [to political problems] emerge from... judicious study of discernible reality."

"That’s not the way the world really works anymore," he added.

"We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study, too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Well, history’s actors are suddenly hunting for a revised script. According to The Washington Post, with the president’s poll numbers sinking, White House aides "who never betrayed self-doubt now talk in private of failures selling the American people on the Iraq war, the president’s Social Security plan and his response to Hurricane Katrina."

We’ve had quite enough salesmanship, thank you. Historically a pragmatic people resistant to abstract ideology, Americans want "actors" who resolve the nation’s problems, not thespians. Many are waking to the reality that a one-party Republican regime has left us stuck with a government of ideologues and cronies who, when things get tough, sound awfully like Marxist apparatchiks chanting the party line. Actually, that line’s gotten somewhat muddled since Hurricane Katrina. With President Bush jetting back and forth to the Gulf Coast in a frantic effort to show concern, GOP robo-pundits in the nation’s great metropolitan newspapers have taken to portraying FEMA’s failures as an inevitable result of government ineptitude. Funny, that’s not what they thought about Bush’s utopian scheme to democratize the Middle East. But hold that thought. New York Times columnist David Brooks even resorted to the old Soviet device of calling White House critics mentally ill, describing Democrats as "psychologically aggrieved," " wrapped in their own rage" and displaying "anger in almost clinical form."

I guess nobody he loved drowned.

Meanwhile, "a top Republican close to the White House" blamed the first lady. It’s hard to imagine anything more craven or asinine. According to this brave soul, who spoke anonymously to Washington Post reporters, "Laura Bush was among those counseling Bush to change his cowboy image during the final four years." Mr. Anonymous thinks the president needs to get his swagger back. At the expense of sounding hopelessly old-fashioned, I’d suggest that Bush has less of an image problem than a (dread word) reality problem. Nobody needs a cowboy when his house is under water. Nor will all the swaggering flight-deck photo-ops in the world balance the budget or extricate U.S. troops from an increasingly grim, chaotic mess in Iraq.

The Bush administration’s fundamental problem is that it has substituted ideology for practicality and loyalty for competence at every turn. It’s running the country like a business, all right. Unfortunately, that business is Enron, combining fantastical theories and astonishing greed. Because the Republicans also control both houses of Congress and have voted in lockstep on virtually every key issue, partisan dogma has taken precedence above all competing values. The result has been mismanagement and incompetence on an heroic scale: ignoring the terrorist threat until 9/11 because al-Qa’ida was a "Clinton issue," driving the country into war in Iraq by conjuring imaginary nuclear "mushroom clouds," forcing the retirement of military leaders (e. g., Gen. Eric Shinseki) who warned that pacifying Iraq would require hundreds of thousands more troops than neo-conservative theory dictated, getting rid of a treasury secretary (Paul O’Neill) who correctly predicted that the war would cost tens of billions more than White House philosophers dreamed, rejecting detailed State Department plans for rebuilding Iraq in favor of pie-in-the-sky schemes to turn the fractured nation into a corporate utopia, turning a $300 billion budget surplus into a $550 billion (and counting) deficit through reckless tax cuts—such a list could go on almost indefinitely.

Slashing FEMA’s budget and replacing its experienced professional staff with hacks and cronies wasn’t a mistake; it was absolutely characteristic of the Bush administration’s vision of government as a partisan spoils system. Even worse than its reliance upon abstract ideology has been the White House’s remarkable inability to admit error. Partly due to its Republican-style political correctness, partly to the cult of personality surrounding Bush himself—his fabled "gut instincts" were supposed to make up for his manifest intellectual shortcomingsthe administration finds it almost impossible to adjust to altered circumstances. They’ve created their own reality all right.

Alas, the rest of us have to live there, too.

•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award. -----------
Did president Bush react quickly enough to hurricane Katrina? Survey


Post a Comment

<< Home