It's All About Politics
I caught the Joe Scarborough and Charlie Rose shows last night to see what the conventional wisdom was regarding yesterday’s developments. I was treated to the musings of ABC’s Mark Halperin and former Reagan staffer Ken Duberstein on Rose telling us that Bush saved his presidency and he can now be seen positively simply because he sacked Rumsfeld yesterday. Similarly, Lanny Davis told Scarborough that Bush has always been able to work across the aisle, and that after abandoning this when he came to Washington, he can now return to his Texas modus operandi and work collaboratively with Democrats, with Rove being neutered. And the Post today lauds Bush’s ability to turn on a dime and perhaps work across the aisle like he supposedly did in Texas. Yeah, that’s the emerging conventional wisdom among the pundits, as if Bush was a bystander the last six years, led along by Rove, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.
What gets lost in this political fluffing is the simple fact that it wasn’t the disastrously failed policy that caused Bush to can Rummy. It wasn’t the thousands of dead American troops that caused Bush to can Rummy. It wasn’t the thousands of maimed American troops that caused Bush to can Rummy. And it certainly wasn’t the hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqis that caused Bush to can Rummy. No, Bush was quite willing to keep going full speed ahead with such negligence and war criminality until he dumped these problems off onto his successor, impervious to the toll of emotional destruction for which he is directly responsible, because he knew he was right and that everyone else was wrong.
The reason why Bush suddenly changed course was because of pure politics, not because it was long overdue. For a man of such alleged moral clarity, he only changed course when he was slapped upside the head with Tuesday’s results. It was clear from yesterday’s press conference that Bush thought up until the end that voters would look past the bad news from Iraq and keep him and the GOP in power simply because the economy is allegedly good and Democrats are allegedly the same thing as terrorists. Rove and Bush were convinced that they could ride out the next two years with minimal losses Tuesday but with a governing majority intact, which to them is always a validation of the policy.
Rove’s base-driven strategy and the failures in Iraq energized opponents and cost the GOP independents, Catholics, moms, moderates, Hispanics, the youth vote, suburbanites, and yes, the middle class. Bush and more importantly Poppy’s Team realized that not only 43’s presidency but also the GOP hung in the balance if he didn’t do something. It wasn’t Bush showing a return to his alleged Texas modus operandi, but simply pure political survival that caused him to act. There is no evidence that Bush believes a course correction in Iraq is warranted, or is there evidence of any newfound concern for our mounting war casualties. Nor is there evidence that he has lost that self-righteousness. He simply knows that he is no longer in complete control, Iraq is the reason, and he hates that.
Bush is simply a craven politician who cares more about holding onto power and now his legacy than he does about doing the right thing. Nor is it a virtue that Bush can make such a change so quickly, as the Post seemingly wants to convey today. The man was impervious to his administration’s negligence for years, and cared little if at all for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for those failures. His party is also now paying the price for his and Rove’s poison, and dozens of Republicans walked the plank for Bush Tuesday only to see Bush save himself Wednesday.
So let’s dispense with the notion that there is something newly noble in Bush making these changes. There isn’t.