From Monday’s news…. The WaPo brings us: As Democracy Push Falters, Bush Feels Like a ‘Dissident’.
Two and a half years after Bush pledged in his second inaugural address to spread democracy around the world, the grand project has bogged down in a bureaucratic and geopolitical morass, in the view of many activists, officials and even White House aides. Many in his administration never bought into the idea, and some undermined it, including his own vice president. The Iraq war has distracted Bush and, in some quarters, discredited his aspirations. And while he focuses his ire on bureaucracy, Bush at times has compromised the idealism of that speech in the muddy reality of guarding other U.S. interests.
The story of how a president’s vision is translated into thorny policy is a classic Washington tale of politics, inertia, rivalries and funding battles — and a case study in the frustrated ambition of a besieged presidency.
In fact, Bush’s besieged presidency has turned him into the embarrassing uncle the Republicans just can’t hide.
With the departure of Karl Rove, the stench of failure hangs over the president – and his party wants to ignore the smell.
George Bush likes his sleep. While campaigning for the presidency in 2000 his prize possession was a feather pillow. On the night that Saddam Hussein was executed he went to bed at 9pm with strict orders not to be woken. When the then CIA director, George Tenet, tried to alert him to news of the first night’s bombing of Iraq he was sent away. “He is the type of person who sleeps at 9.30pm after watching the domestic news,” Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah told Okaz, a Saudi newspaper.
But one can’t help wondering if Karl Rove’s resignation might not disturb his slumber for his remaining months in the White House. Rove, Bush’s consigliere for the past 30 years, left last week in much the same manner as he had stayed: misleading the public. He told the nation that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Maybe he should have checked with his family first. His only son leaves for college in just a few days.
Rove is leaving because there is nothing more for him to do; Bush is letting him go because he no longer has any use for him. His departure effectively marks the end of the Bush presidency – from hereon in Bush’s tenure is about keeping the troops in Iraq and as many of his administration out of handcuffs as possible. Last week Fox News asked the neocon commentator Charles Krauthammer how much time Bush had to promote his agenda. “None,” said Krauthammer. “It’s over. There is no agenda.”
But while the left loves to revel in Bush’s woes, it invariably revels in the wrong woes. Bush’s problem is not that he has failed on our terms – humanism, equality, peace and democracy – but that he has failed on his own.
And there’s more…
A sense of doom among Republicans is palpable. A growing number of Republican congressmen – most recently the former house speaker Dennis Hastert – have announced they are to retire, or are considering it. “Democrats will win the White House [and] hold their majority in the house and in the Senate in 2008,” the retiring congressman Ray Lahood told the New York Times.
There is even talk that Republicans might not invite Bush to their convention. “If they’re smart, no,” the Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio told Newsweek. “Especially if things don’t change in Iraq, we’ll have the problem the Democrats had in 1968 with Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam. The question becomes: where do we hide the president?”
Bush could run, but he can’t now hide. Rove showed Bush how to win elections, but he couldn’t show him how to govern. For the next year and a half he may need more than a feather pillow to get him to sleep.