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Need a Hand, Little Fella?
April 22, 2002
By birdman

At long last the bloom is off the Bush. Our boy's fatal flaw - his inability to deal with or even recognize the complexity of a subject, his simplistic need to see everything and everybody in black and white terms - has come back to bite the little man, as one of his associates would say, "Big Time".

Bush's stunning lack of depth actually served him well in the early days after September 11. It may have been a mystery to many of us but the public seemed to like his frontier sheriff act and his "I'll get him dead-or-alive" rhetoric (I wonder ever happened to the guy he was talking about). The Taliban, of course, were very easy to dislike and made a nice enemy for the early days of the open-ended ill-defined "War on Terror".

The fact that they headed for the hills at the first sign of US bombs and surrogate troops made for a quick claim of victory, soaring polls and virtual immunity from criticism. Some of us who realized the that the world is not some dim-witted cowboy movie may have grumbled but the public liked what they saw and we either kept quiet or were told to shut up.

But even in Afghanistan there were signs that the situation was a good deal more complex than it was made out to be. The Bushies were unwilling to risk casualties (and those high poll ratings) and so they allowed the surrogates to try to capture the Al Qaeda. The surrogates, not appreciating the cosmic import of the terror war allowed the bad guys to buy themselves out of harms way. Ooops, this never happened to Gary Cooper.

From there it was all downhill. They needed a new bad guy. Well, how about an old bad guy? Cheney was sent to country after country to build support for expanding the war to Iraq. Only there wasn't any support, only ominous warnings that the Bushies had better look to the Arab-Israeli conflict before they strike out after any new evildoers.

But in the Middle East the little man is totally out of his element. It demands subtlety and nuance, characteristics that Bush doesn't possess or appreciate. He briefly tried his tough guy approach. He demanded an end to suicide bombings. He was ignored. He demanded that Ariel Sharon pull his troops out of the West Bank. Sharon flipped him the bird, several times. He finally sent the one member of his administration with an understanding of complexities of the region to mediate. But Colin Powells mission was compromised from the start and he ludicrously visited other countries (Spain?) before even arriving in the Middle East. Powell's mission ended in failure. Bush was left with a region spiraling out of control and no Iraq war to fight. I mean it was all just so damn complicated.

And then something worse happened. He got an offer of help.

From Bill Clinton.

Yes, the simplistic little man was offered the assistance of the man of ultimate complexity, the guy who can parse the meaning of "is", the man who can engage in a full scale debate about whether or not he's actually had sex with a woman when he's had her impaled on a macanudo. Unlike Bush he's steeped in the subtleties of international politics. And let's face it; the guy has more diplomatic skill with an interns head in his lap than Bush could garner from ten years of grad school.

Clinton made the offer in an AP interview this week in Little Rock and said that his contribution would "depend on what the Bush administration had in mind".

Now, of course, Bill Clinton knows full well that little George can't take him up on his proposal to help out in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Bush is politically beholden to the crackpot wing of the GOP who thinks that Clinton is the anti-Christ and who continue to believe that he whacked Vince Foster, Ron Brown and half the population of Arkansas to cover up his own evildoing. If Bush sent Clinton to mediate the conflict the vermin farm at Free Republic alone would produce a couple dozen cases of death through excessive hyperventilation.

So what was the purpose of Clintons offer? Did he want to kick the Bushies when they were down? Probably. Did he want to remind the world how close he was to getting a peace agreement between these two parties just 18 months ago? Of course. Does he think he could do a much better job than this gang of amateurs? You better believe he does.

And if Bush had the diplomatic sense of a grapefruit he'd make that call to Little Rock this week. He'd really have nothing to lose - if Clinton failed he could blame it on Clinton. If Clinton succeeded Bush would look like a genius for taking the unconventional step of utilizing someone his political base despises.

But that would require Bush to do a little "out of the box" thinking. It would require an appreciation of subtlety and nuance and it would require a much bigger person than the little man in the White House.

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