A number of thoughtful Republicans were hoping that their standard bearer would respond to the first indictment of a sitting white house official since Ulysses S. Grant by cleaning house. Apparently someone mislaid the Mr. Clean and Lysol over there on Pennsylvania Avenue. Just as I found the charge of lying symbolically appropriate, Bush defenders (two different interviews at separate times on the same Chris Mathews Hardball broadcast) saw it as a vindication; Valerie Plame was not a covert operative. You read that right, the fact that Mr. Libby (rhymes with Liddy of another White House) was not charged with outing her proves there was nothing to out. Astounding! As I remember it, this investigation was based upon a complaint by the CIA that one of its agents had been compromised. I also don’t remember Mr. Fitzgerald saying anything about Ms. Plame-Wilson’s status, only that Mr. Libby’s lying made it impossible to determine if his were the prime lose lips. Wonder what these same people will say if someone else is actually charged with the outing?
Meanwhile, like all presidents in trouble, George W made a quick exit and traveled south, unfortunately not to his beloved Crawford, but to South America. People have been lamenting that this buttoned up White House has been showing a little skin of late, but who could have made a worse choice (both in timing and destination) than to dispatch the chief to Latin America. Surely other presidents have also been less than welcome in those environs, but it seems this one adds insult to injury. Sadly, our country has long been seen as the neighborhood bully and the aggressive Bush foreign policy only reinforces that image. When President Chavez says the US has plans to invade his country, who can say that could never happen? It has been pointed out that, despite his largely self inflicted troubles at home, Bill Clinton could always count on friendly crowds overseas to give him moral support, even adulation. The problem is that, despite all those stories about how likable George II is, he seems to universally rub people around the world the wrong way.
Things are really a mess. But part of the problem is that we have unrealistic expectations. Even if we dislike the policies of this administration and even George Bush personally, our instincts are to hope that somehow he will prove us, if not wrong, then to have exaggerated. It’s common dilemma we share in facing certain relationships. We want people who always fail us to be different and thus keep on getting disappointed. Bush hasn’t cleaned house because this is a man who is constitutionally incapable of admitting mistakes large or small, not to mention someone with misplaced loyalties. Even Brownie, as many different columnists have pointed out, is still on the FEMA payroll. If the guy who helped unmask the president’s callousness and self indulgence in the wake of Katrina – contributing to ever declining poll numbers and the perception that the once trusted CEO is untrustworthy – is still on the team how can we expect Bush to turn any significant corner.
Like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon before him (this is not a partisan thing), Bush is receding into his fortress. Talking to himself, which means talking to Karl and Dick, he is in the full throws of denial. What does this little blip matter when things are going so well in Iraq, when we’re on our way to winning the war on terrorism and doing so without most of us even making the slightest sacrifice? Sure the oil companies are making a bundle, but look at the taxes they will contribute (unless of course their incomes are subject to loophole or shelter). Look at how we’re turning the whole Middle East to democracy, or was that theocracy I can never get those words straight. Yes, things are really going well.
Remember the title of that show – “stop the world, I want to get off”? Sometimes, no oft times, I want to do just that.