Friday, June 16, 2006
The Bar is Set So Low for Bush That Anything Short of Drooling and Babbling is Considered a Monumental Success
Repuglicans across the land are rejoicing over President Bush's alleged resurgence. "He's back," they say. "The Comeback Kid," they're calling him. One right wing columnist, Clark S. Judge, went so far as to say that "the president just had the best week of his second term, perhaps of his entire presidency...." and talks of Bush's "stunning new momentum" that's "proving a transformative success on the domestic as well as international front." Excuse me, but I seem to have missed the memo outlining Bush's big accomplishments this past week. As usual, the bar is set so low for this president that all he needs to do is show a pulse and we're supposed to declare a national holiday in his honor.
Judging from the persistent and escalating violence in Iraq, we've passed one milestone that doesn't seem to matter much--al Zarqawi's death--with one that does--2500 dead U.S. soldiers. The war is spiraling out of control, yet a simple decision to board a plane to visit this debacle firsthand has brought much attention and praise on Bush, despite the fact that it'll yield little if any true change. A week from now it'll be just another faded photo-op. The bigger issue is, when are we going to exit? As David Letterman said, much has been said about Bush being able to find a secret way into Iraq. How about a finding a secret way out?
Using the low-bar expectations, this was a good week in terms of things happening that weren't dreadful. Al Zarqawi was alive, now he's dead. Ok, no one can argue that that's not a good thing. But he's already been replaced by Abu Hamza al-Muhajer as Al Qaeda-in-Iraq's leader. The real arguable point, however, is what effect Zarqawi's killing will have on the insurgency. So far, the violence and death has increased. Next, Bush hopped a plane to Baghdad, and it was greeted as some sort of Nixon-like foreign policy coup. Like al Zarqawi's death, this will yield little if anything in the grand scheme of things. But for an under-achieving president like Bush, I guess the trip was a big deal. Lastly, his chief political operative, Karl Rove, learned he will not face indictment in the CIA leak case. Another big win? Sure, if you don't mind that Rove still reeks of scandal and is probably guilty. But to the Bushies, "a lack of enough evidence to indict" translates to "innocence." Not to the rest of us. Sorry George, "Karl Rove not indicted" is not something to brag about.
The bottom line here is that we now have 2500 dead soldiers and an unjust war with no end in sight. We face a real nuclear threat from Iran and N. Korea. The administration's been plagued by scandal; Rove's clearing doesn't mitigate that. Al Qaeda has a new boss in Iraqi. The stock market's been crashing. Jobs growth has been dismal. Gas prices are astronomical. Wages are stagnate. Interest rates and inflation are rising. We're saddled with record debt. And Bush's abysmal approval ratings haven't budged at all from the mid-30's perch. To the low-expectation Repugs, this is not evidence of merely a good week, but signs of a rejuvenated presidency. To the rest of us, America certainly should have much higher standards for excellence.