Rough Water Ahead
Posted by Mary
Paul Krugman's column on the day after the second 9/11 anniversary comments on what I've been starting to worry about recently. As Bush and his cohorts start to see their carefully crafted "Bush, leader extraordinaire" marketing start to falter due to product defects, their need to do something, anything to keep in power will only grow. As Krugman says:
Yet it's almost certainly wrong to think that the political exploitation of 9/11 and, more broadly, the administration's campaign to label critics as unpatriotic are past their peak. It may be harder for the administration to wrap itself in the flag, but it has more incentive to do so now than ever before. Where once the administration was motivated by greed, now it's driven by fear.
... snip ...
Now it has all gone wrong. The deficit is about to go above half a trillion dollars, the economy is still losing jobs, the triumph in Iraq has turned to dust and ashes, and Mr. Bush's poll numbers are at or below their pre-9/11 levels.
Nor can the members of this administration simply lose like gentlemen. For one thing, that's not how they operate. Furthermore, everything suggests that there are major scandals - involving energy policy, environmental policy, Iraq contracts and cooked intelligence - that would burst into the light of day if the current management lost its grip on power. So these people must win, at any cost.
The result, clearly, will be an ugly, bitter campaign - probably the nastiest of modern American history. Four months ago it seemed that the 2004 campaign would be all slow-mo films of Mr. Bush in his flight suit. But at this point, it's likely to be pictures of Howard Dean or Wesley Clark that morph into Saddam Hussein. And Donald Rumsfeld has already rolled out the stab-in-the-back argument: if you criticize the administration, you're lending aid and comfort to the enemy.
This political ugliness will take its toll on policy, too. The administration's infallibility complex - its inability to admit ever making a mistake - will get even worse. And I disagree with those who think the administration can claim infallibility even while practicing policy flexibility: on major issues, such as taxes or Iraq, any sensible policy would too obviously be an implicit admission that previous policies had failed.
In other words, if you thought the last two years were bad, just wait: it's about to get worse. A lot worse.
What I've found as I've studied the writings of the right wing movement and watched this administration railroad us into the future they've determined for us, is there doesn't seem to be anything that deters them from their pre-set path. I realized how frightened I was of who they were when I first realized I didn't trust their judgement in even the most obvious situations. No other president, including Nixon, Reagan or Papa Bush has been so blind to the consequences of their policies. When evidence showed a flawed policy, each of them stepped back and adjusted the policy to match reality. Bush Jr. is unable to do so. This makes him much more dangerous to our country and our world. He really is earning the title: "worst president ever".
Listening to the interview that Krugman had with Terri Gross yesterday showed that he too went from mild concern to genuine alarm as he realized how divorced they are from reality. For Krugman, it was the economic situation, for me it was the environment and the leadup to the war.
A significant problem with the radical right is they are truly paranoid and 9/11 provided them with proof that their paranoia was justified. (Just as the Islamist extremists can now point to the American invasion of Iraq to prove their belief that America is inherently hostile to them and thus allow them to recruit even more terrorists.) They believe in a pure Darwinian world ruled by winner-take-all and might makes right. They do not believe in compromising or sharing. And they do believe that lying for their cause is justified because the ends justifies the means. The radical right has more in common (philosophically) with the terrorists than those who believe in a liberal democracy.
Putting on my tin-foil hat, we know that Bush and his right wing friends stole the last election. If they were willing to steal the election last time, what will they do in 2004? I know that I want to see investigations and even trials for their betrayal of our constitution and our future. As the country has become more polarized, and people like me want to see accountability for acts performed by those in government, there will be a strong incentive for Bush and his henchmen to hang on to power no matter what. It will be an ugly, and frankly, frightening time. Even so, if enough of us work together to oust the bastard, he and his cronies cannot prevail.
BTW: don't miss this BuzzFlash interview with Krugman. As a very public person, he shows remarkable courage to continue to speak the truth despite the concerted effort to shut him up.
I'm in process of moving from Portland to a new job in San Jose, CA. As such, my posts will continue to be spotty. Fortunately Steve is back from his vacation and providing some really exceptional posts so I don't feel so guilty taking some time off.