June 30, 2003
Two Days in the Life of GWB
by P.M. Carpenter
Throughout, say, the Coolidge administration, political observers could be content with writing only weekly diatribes or paeans about Cal's languorous ways. Nixon, on the other hand, offered daily-update opportunities for opinion factories. His tortured and abysmal terms were the 20th-century high point for political commentary. True, discerning opinion maintained a steady one-way course, since Dick obliged by being so steadily corrupt, but a column a day could still pretty much provide an accurate and necessary record of the 37th president's infamy.
All that has passed.
Today, with George Junior in office, a daily column couldn't begin to offer enough perspective on all the weird executive branch goings-on. Two a day wouldn't cut it, nor even three. One would have to write a 1000-word column every 30 minutes to keep up. The Bushies are a wily bunch -- and forever on the move.
As proof, I offer a few news stories from a mere 2-day period in June: the 18th and 19th, chosen wholly at random. In just 48 hours the Bush administration and its obedient minions did enough to keep commentators' heads spinning for months.
On the 18th the New York Times reported in a headline: "G.O.P. Dismisses Questions on Banned Arms Proof in Iraq." Well, isn't that special. Mr. Bush characterized any questioning of this, the biggest foreign policy fiasco in American history, as "revisionist." One of his top national security advisors predicted the administration "can ride this out" -- demonstrating an utter lack of regard for any original honesty -- and God love him, Newt Gingrich reappeared long enough to confirm that only "the literary class that dislikes Bush and dislikes American activism is thrilled ... to have this question to raise."
The literary class? And how was it these questions came to arise?
Reuters reported the same day that the president "will not tolerate" -- his words -- nuclear arms in Iran. Good for him. We can't have rogue nations led by rogue leaders running around with rogue WMD (as Iraq was doing, yes?). Perhaps if Iran concentrates on nuclear "bunker blasters" rather than conventional nuclear weapons it'll become okay by us. We like bunker blasters: they're nuclear, but not that nuclear.
Then, a day later, man-of-his-word Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that "no issue is of greater urgency" to the administration than North Korea's WMD developments. As the Washington Post reported, Powell's remarks "suggested" that North Korea "has begun to supplant Iraq and the unsatisfactory search for its weapons of mass destruction as [the administration's] central focus." Or hocus-pocus.
During this 48-hour period Mr. Bush also issued a stern federal ban on racial profiling; a ban, that is, which permits racial profiling. The new policy "does nothing to stop it," said an American Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman. "It's largely a rhetorical statement." Mere rhetoric from the Bush people? No doubt the ACLU lady is a member of "the literary class."
Also during this 2-day period White House political chieftains deleted scientific findings on global warming from a forthcoming Environmental Protection Agency report; the president made clear his intention to open more wounds with Senate Democrats by suggesting a Ken Starr lackey for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit (second in legal authority only to the Supreme Court); and Bush lapdog strategist Grover Norquist assured Washington Post columnist David Broder that conservatives "are going to dig out [Democrats'] whole structure of programs and power." That includes quite a bit, like your Social Security and mine.
All this, in 48 hours. The torrent of ideological coups and political deceptions stemming from the Bush administration now pose an impossible task for the commentariat: to inform through perspective. There just isn't enough time.
otherwise noted, all original