Saturday, June 18, 2005

Bush’s great unraveling

Bush’s great unraveling
by George Ochenski

Hate to say we told you so

If recent polls are any indication, the Bush administration is losing ground on virtually every front, from an outright rejection of Bush’s Social Security plan to a growing ennui with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American people seem to have had it with the swaggering braggadocio of Bush, Cheney and their coterie of propagandists, Bible-thumpers and cover-up specialists. Slowly but surely the Bush presidency, heavy with secrecy, fraud and deceit, is beginning to fray at the edges, gradually unraveling toward the historical infamy it so well deserves.

For those who have criticized this administration from the outset, it’s tough not to say we told you so. In fact, though characterized as naysayers at best and unpatriotic traitors at worst, things have turned out pretty much the way many predicted, especially in regard to the spurious and costly invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Just last week the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq passed the 1,700 mark—and that doesn’t count the many who have been grievously wounded in body and mind, to say nothing of the estimated 100,000 Iraqi casualties.

And for what? While Cheney promised the nation last week that the Iraq insurgency was “on its last legs,” American generals are on record saying just the opposite. Not only is the insurgency far from weakened, as one general put it: “We can’t kill them all. For every one we kill, we create three more.” In Afghanistan, now that the Taliban is gone the opium trade is surging. Besides killing American soldiers on an almost daily basis, this supposed new bastion of democracy can now claim the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest producer of opium poppies.

These kinds of “victories” are not lost on the American public. While the U.S. mainstream media certainly deserve criticism for their whitewashed coverage of Bush’s phony “War on Terror,” even Fox News can’t spin the results of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars into positive poll numbers. In the latest Washington Post-ABC poll, almost 60 percent of Americans now believe those wars are no longer worth the effort. That’s a 20-point reversal in public sentiment from a year ago.

Foreign military adventurism aside, Bush is doing no better at home in his effort to privatize Social Security. After a 60-day nationwide tour in front of pre-screened friendly audiences, Bush succeeded only in driving down the numbers of people who support his amorphous plan to let Wall Street pick the pockets of Americans’ long-standing retirement fund. The latest AP-Ipsos poll found a mere 37 percent now support Bush’s plan, with 59 percent disapproving.

The same poll found big trouble for George W.’s leadership legacy, with just 35 percent saying the country is on the right track. Meanwhile, his handling of domestic issues receives approval percentages in “the high 30s and low 40s,” with Americans pegging Bush on the economy, for instance, at only 43 percent approval.

These kinds of numbers, and the almost impossible odds of radically improving the situations that spawned them, are reverberating through Washington. The Republican-controlled Congress that has pushed the Bush agenda through with little regard for process or legitimacy has earned the public’s enmity, as reflected in its miserable 31-percent approval rating. That means more than two of every three Americans think Congress is doing a bad job—not a pleasant reality check for those who have to go home and face the citizens in the next election cycle.

As for the blustering, swaggering Bush, with an approval rating at his all-time low of 43 percent, stuffing through any kind of a second-term agenda—let alone his wildly ambitious plans to turn everything from energy policy to social security over to his corporate cronies—is going to be tough. Perhaps the clearest indication of the problems are the increasing numbers of Republicans in Congress who are stepping forth with demands for a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. Like “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” the albatross of Bush’s blunders appears to be too much weight for even staunch Republicans to carry around their necks.

In fact, it would appear that the rats are already starting to abandon G.W. Bush’s presidency. Paul Wolfowitz, one of the infamous planners of the ill-fated Iraq war, has given up his role as military advisor and sidled on over to the World Bank as the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate toward all-out civil war.

Or how about Montana’s former governor-turned-big-business-lobbyist, Marc Racicot? Having previously bailed from his positions with the Republican National Committee and his chairmanship of the Bush-Cheney campaign, just this week Racicot made the leap from the Texas law firm of Bracewell and Guiliani—where he lobbied for such luminaries as Enron and Burlington Northern—to his new position as president of the American Insurance Association. Reports say Racicot’s latest D.C. jump will land him with a nice 7-figure salary. Although it certainly won’t remove him from secret deal-making in the back rooms of the Bush administration, it will provide a media buffer to his former presidential proximity.

While Bush goes down the tubes of history, Racicot floats away on a raft of money, hoping to accomplish such notable goals as the “extension of the national terrorism insurance program,” “addressing lawsuit abuse,” and “modernizing the [insurance] industry’s regulatory system.” In Bush-Racicot speech, “modernizing” regulations simply means gutting them.

The great unraveling of the Bush regime was predictable. After all, you can only expect a house built on lies and deception to last so long. Unfortunately, the residual effects of this administration will be with us far longer than W. himself, as the pollution, loss of personal privacy and freedom, and trillions in national debt are passed on to future generations.

When not lobbying the Montana Legislature, George Ochenski is rattling the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Independent. Contact Ochenski at