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Watch What You Wish For
July 24, 2002
By Mike Shannon

We of the loyal opposition have a bit of a problem. No, I do not mean that George W Bush is the President - that is not a little problem, it is a monumental problem. The problem I refer to is how do we best insure that his tenure in office is a four year problem and not an eight year one.

At the root of our problem is the fact that in spite of the man's litany of inadequacies he has - through 95% happenstance and 5% performance - managed to convince the majority of Americans that he is up to the job. For those of us who consider him nothing more than an all-hat-and-no-cattle Daddy's boy we have no small amount of difficulty accepting that people see him as anything other than that. That they do is entirely besides the point however, the only thing that matters is that every time they are asked over two thirds of them answer that they remain supportive of their President.

Discovering what it will take to offset the post-Sept 11th perception that Mr Bush is worthy of their continued support is where our challenge lies. We could remain patient and allow him to self destruct. A strategy that was working all too well prior to that life changing day last fall. Mr Bush had already shot his wad with the criminally ill advised passage by the Congress of his egregious gift to the well to do and was slowly but surely sinking into what clearly looked like a single term of mediocrity. Of course, all that changed in a matter of a few short and unforgettable hours.

That this wholly inconsequential figure has since been bathed in the flawed hiding light of protector/warrior is a development that no imagination could have foreseen. But once again it is of no benefit to bemoan this turn of events they should only serve as an endless source of inspiration to do what is necessary to counteract them.

Mr Bush gained his current stature because something incomparably bad happened. Accepting this premise makes it rational to argue that it will take something extraordinarily bad to undo what has been done. Of course, in this situation that is completely beyond the realm of acceptable possibility. Wishing for a terrorist act of any manner, shape or form to be repeated here or anywhere for that matter in order to gain political advantage over an opponent would not merely transcend cynicism, it would instantly forever brand anyone who entertained such a thought as a soulless bastard in dire need of a horsewhipping.

Therefor it is without question that we must remove the fear factor from the equation and look elsewhere for our answer. Fortunately we will find that we are left with another dynamic strong enough to turn a voter's heart to stone practically overnight - money.

People vote with their wallet. They always have and they always will. That is, under the right conditions. Personal prosperity will invariably take a back seat to self preservation. The one card that will trump the "are you better off today than you were four years ago" question and that is "are you safer today than you were four years ago." So as long as, God willing, the murdering scum will never again sow their hatred on our shores we can focus our hopes that the souring of the economy will provide the impetus to turn Mr Bush and his minions out of office.

The downside here is that a failure in the American economy does not take place in a vacuum. It has very real repercussions for every person - outside the chosen gilded few - that has a job or an IRA. So while it is true that an economic downturn of sufficient severity would do unto the son what it did to the father the price is far too high to pay.

What we need is a metaphorical silver bullet. One that will do what needs to be done but with no residual damage to the innocent. Fortunately we may very well have found one. And not surprisingly it comes from a source we all should have never lost faith in - Mr Bush himself.

It is obvious to the point of dogma that if George W Bush had any other last name you and I would never have heard of him. Any success he has enjoyed in life in entirely owed to the position and place he was born into. Take away his cocoon of capitalist cronyism and he never would have grown wings of his own, remove the golden safety net woven for the sons and daughters of the oligarchy and he doesn't walk away from the first fall.

With that in mind it is no small surprise that his past may very well be finally catching up to him. Mr. Bush has been receiving an ever increasing amount of negative press about his sale - and failure to disclose it in a timely manner as proscribed by SEC regulation - of his holdings in Harken Oil. What was once excused as a fairly routine case of insider wheeling and dealing is now being examined in today's far different environment as symptomatic of what is wrong with corporate America. Still, as unseemly as this transaction appears it is what we don't know about it that may blow the lid of the Bush Presidency.

It is not the how and why Mr Bush sold his Harken stock that is so potentially devastating - it is to whom he sold them. Accounts are starting to bubble to the surface (skip fox has been writing of this for weeks and has an extensive file on the subject which can be accessed here) that are going to make previous Bush/Cheney indiscretions seem trivial by comparison. Writing in the New York Press, Christopher Caldwell offers the possibility that Mr Bush's stock was purchased by someone from Saudi Arabia as a way of the Saudis gaining favor and influence within the Bush family. And that someone may have been a member of the vast business organization headed by none other than the father of Osama bin Laden.

If this pans out, there is no amount of spin on earth that is going to be able to sell that one to Joe and Joan Public but it sure is going to be fun watching them try.

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