Bush Heads for the Bunker
November 23, 2004
By Bernard Weiner, The
hope that Bush & Co. might tack toward the center is gone. All signs
points to more extremism in policy, more police-state tactics at
home, more death and destruction abroad.
On what do I base this gloomy, but - given the atrocious record
of the Bush Administration over the past four years - not surprising
FIRST CLUE: Bush declaring, with a straight face, that
the election gave him a "mandate," and that "the American people"
gave him a "broad, nationwide victory" and want him to complete
the initiatives he begun in his first term. That shouldn't have
surprised us. After all, this is the guy who claimed a mandate in
2000, when he lost the popular vote and was installed in the White
House by five conservative members of the Supreme Court.
This time, Bush claimed his razor-thin popular vote victory of
1% as his "mandate" - even though in the 2004 vote, more people
voted against a president than ever before in U.S. history, and
even in many of the "red" states that he appears to have won, he
barely eked out a majority. In short, the country gives evidence
that it remains split right down the middle, mainly along the rural/big
cities line. (As I write this, as a result of numerous statistical
anomalies, recounts are ongoing in key states, and there are legal
challenges to be dealt with.)
It's the same old delusion and denial. If Bush told the truth
to himself, that half the American population voted against him,
he'd have to take them into account when considering policy. But
by pretending he has this "mandate" from a "broad, nationwide victory,"
it's to hell with the losers and full speed ahead.
SECOND CLUE: Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Feith are still
employed. These, along with Cheney, are the neo-con ideologues driving
our foreign/military policy. No matter that virtually every one
of their theories has led to disastrous consequences and continues
to do injury to the long-term national interests of the United States;
those are Bush's boys and he's sticking with them.
THIRD CLUE: Colin Powell is gone, and Bush did not try
to dissuade him from leaving. Even though in public Powell permitted
himself to be used and abused by the White House, behind the scenes
he led the battle against the worst of the neo-con madness. As the
closest thing the Bush Administration had to a voice of reality-based
moderation, he could have chosen to stay and fight; but, finally,
he couldn't take any more, and the Colinectomy was performed.
FOURTH CLUE: Porter Goss, easily rollable by the White
House, is the new head of the CIA. This guy's job is to bring the
CIA under control and in the hip pocket of Bush & Co. Hence the
current purge of those deemed insufficiently supportive of Bush
policy, and Goss' demanding of what amounts to 100% loyalty oaths
to The Leader from the remaining agents and officers of that agency.
If you're not with us, you're against us.
FIFTH CLUE: Alberto Gonzales, a longtime Bush toady, is
nominated to succeed John Ashcroft as Attorney General. He's Ashcroft
with a more pleasant demeanor, which makes him even more scary.
He'll do whatever needs to be done to protect Bush from legal attack,
and to expand his powers as close to dictatorship as can be arranged.
Gonzales as White House counsel developed the "legal" rationales
to justify torture, and assertion of authoritarian powers by the
commander in chief during "wartime."
SIXTH CLUE: Condoleezza Rice is nominated to succeed Powell
as Secretary of State. Stated as baldly as possible, she's an incompetent
as National Security Advisor - apparently in charge of nothing,
since she constantly claimed to know nothing about what was going
on in various scandal areas - and a liar who may have committed
perjury before the 9/11 Commission. As with Gonzales and Goss, she
has no independent constituency and owes total fealty to her boss.
SEVENTH CLUE: Stephen Hadley will be taking over Condi's
job as National Security Advisor. Hadley, another Bush loyalist,
is Rice's deputy, who may have been involved in covering up various
scandals, including "Niger uranium," pre-9/11 knowledge, and the
outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
EIGHTH CLUE: House majority leader Tom DeLay, who on Capitol
Hill looks after the interests of Bush and his neo-con advisers,
is being legally protected in his job should he be indicted by a
grand jury for multiple crimes committed in Texas.
NINTH CLUE: With Gonzales moving to the Justice Department,
thus protecting Bush & Co. business from that flank, Bush has appointed
another Texas friend, Harriet Miers, to take Gonzales' job as White
House Counsel, to protect Bush from that redoubt. She is another
Bush loyalist, as is Margaret Spellings, another Texas crony who
owes her career to Bush.
TENTH CLUE: Though Bush pretended to offer an olive branch
of comity to the Democratic opposition ("I will reach out to every
one who shares our goals"), what he really said was our way or the
highway. The man who once claimed he wanted to be a uniter, not
a divider, continues to drive his neo-con juggernaut over any and
all those who oppose him.
Tight Circle in the Bunker
In short, what we have here is a retreat to the family bunker
by the co-conspirators who make up Bush & Co.'s power-at-any-price
Outside his tight inner circle of toadies and fellow delusionists
(Rove, Rummy, Wolfy, Perle, Cheney, Rice, Gonzales, Goss, DeLay,
Hadley, et al.), Bush finds the world unfriendly, even hostile.
That's why he was so very uncomfortable during his first debate
with Kerry. Bush insulates himself so tightly from the real world
- has no curiosity, doesn't read newspapers, surrounds himself with
sycophants and yes-men, doesn't want to run into anybody unvetted
for loyalty to him - that he appeared stunned, insulted, outraged
that somebody had the temerity to attack his policies to his face
and point out his gross errors of judgment.
So Bush's reshuffling of his Cabinet and top advisors is designed
to insulate him even more from reality, and ensure that nobody,
NOBODY, will question what is about to come down.
And what might that be?
Making War on Terror and Citizens
There are no real secrets here either. In foreign policy, under
the always-useful "war on terrorism" slogan, the neo-cons will re-emerge
from the pre-election closet and start moving again to alter the
geopolitical map of the oil-rich Middle East, bringing "democracy"
and "free market capitalism" to many Arab countries, by suasion
if possible (shock & awe threats), but by the bayonet and bomb if
The possibility of re-starting the military draft slots in here.
Iraq will continue to be a running sore, but the Bush & Co. desire
is still there to maintain a huge military presence in that country
and to control the oil fields as long as possible. Israel/Palestine
will get some attention, but a just and lasting peace is doubtful
unless Bush were seriously to rein in Ariel Sharon, and that is
not going to happen.
In domestic policy, under the always-useful "war on terrorism"
justification, there will be even more crackdowns on dissent, including
on the Internet; moves to gain even tighter control over the judicial
system through appointment of more hard-right judges and justices;
more giveaways to logging and mining interests over environmental
protections; further attempts to eat away at social entitlement
programs like Head Start, Social Security, Medicare, by privatizing
as much of it as possible, thus aiding corporate benefactors; making
permanent the huge tax cuts for the wealthy; paving the way for
the utter and complete destruction of the Democrats as a party of
true opposition; and continuing to use the corrupted balloting and
vote-counting system as a backup. The aim is at least another decade
or two of hard-right, one-party rule.
Unless the Democrats can get their political strategy together,
and devote the funds and energy necessary to build an infrastructure
for success (including more think-tanks, media outlets, training
of younger up-and-comers, etc.), there will be little in the way
of stopping the Bush forces from those goals. (Unless, of course,
Iraq totally collapses, and/or the scandals roiling just below the
surface - 9/11 pre-knowledge, CIA agent Valerie Plame's outing,
the authorization of torture, Enron/Halliburton, Iraq incompetence,
etc. - pop up and bite Bush & Co. in the new year.)
The situation can't be any more clear. We are in deep you-know-what
and we're not going to be able to climb our way out unless we get
ourselves organized properly (including the possible development
of a viable, win-oriented third party if the Dems can't do it),
come up with the creative tactics and strategies and candidates
to create a true and effective opposition, and spend lots of money
to build that oppositional infrastructure.
In short, how and whether we liberals/progressives/moderate-conservatives
survive and grow as an effective opposition is up to us. Each of
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government and international
relations at various universities, was a writer-editor with the
San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The