Josh Marshall had a piece yesterday that summed up what I’ve been thinking — and actually hearing from folks I know, even some folks who are fairly conservative and were avid Bush supporters once upon a time.
…he [George Packer in the New Yorker] describes the president’s strategy as "muddling through the rest of the Bush Presidency, without being forced to admit defeat, until January of 2009, when the war will become a new President’s problem."
This really is the issue. Brazen it out, burn off men and money, not admit there’s any real problem and then pass it off on the next guy who will take the blame.
The president lacks the courage to change course. The whole country is paralyzed by his cowardice.
Josh is talking about this in terms of our Iraqi policy, via Packer’s dispatches from that country, but I think the mindset applies to a whole host of issues that have cropped up under the Bush Administration.
The fact that people who are not so politically obsessed have been saying much the same thing when political issues come up in conversation is telling to me in a lot of ways. We’ve hit a point where people are thinking about the Bush Administration in terms of a "Hump Day" for the whole country — we’re past the "Wednesday" of his presidency and headed toward the weekend, when we all celebrate and then start anew with someone fresh.
People are already thinking past President Bush, but he’s hunkering down and hoping that nothing else bad happens between now and then. He’s already thinking past himself, too. Well, isn’t that helpful and productive? And we’re…what…treading water until then, hoping that no more sharks are circling, until the rescue boat can come and fish us all out of the drink?
Atrios hit that thought out of the park, with this:
This is true, but many other people are paralyzed by their own cowardice. It’s apparently okay in official Washington for there to be a nation whose leader thinks words speak louder than actions, that an impudent comedian is more offensive than the ongoing slaughter in Iraq, and that 2-3 dead American troops per day is barely worthy of notice.
One keeps imagining that the grownups will finally wake up and try to change things, but if the last decade has taught us anything it’s that if there are any grownups in Washington no one bothers to listen to them anymore.
Where are the grown-ups? That’s a great question, isn’t it?
Froomkin had a great column yesterday, talking about the whole Colbert issue and the press, among a lot of other issues, and he hit the "where are the grown-ups" issue for the press in this way:
The way I see it, the Washington press corps is still appropriately embarrassed that they screwed up in the run-up to war. Now, as Bush’s approval ratings fester, they are getting bolder in challenging the official White House line on any number of issues. They’re justifiably proud of a handful of great investigative pieces.
But they still haven’t addressed the central issue Colbert was raising: Bush’s credibility. As it happens, the public is way ahead of them on this one: For more than a year, the polls have consistently been showing that a majority of Americans don’t find Bush honest and trustworthy.
And yet, as I’ve chronicled time and again in this column, (see, for instance, my Feb. 3 column, It’s the Credibility, Stupid ) the mainstream press — the very folks in that ballroom on Saturday night, the ones who actually have access to the president and his aides — have allowed that fundamental issue to go unexplored.
What Colbert was saying about the guy sitting a few feet away from him — and I think this is what made so many people in that room uncomfortable — was: Don’t believe a word he says.
You know, it’s funny, because that’s exactly the message that Ray McGovern, who used to be the CIA briefer for George Bush (senior) according to Larry Johnson, sent in his questioning of Don Rumsfeld yesterday, too. (The LATimes has a great review of the events at the Rumsfeld speech.) Atrios hits this issue as well, with a great bit from Jonathon Alter after Katrina.
But I can’t help but wonder: how many times does this particular issue have to be exposed before it sticks with the corporate media? If it is an accepted fact at this point with regular folks like us, why is this something that is so protected within media circles? Is this just a question of protecting the access — or is it something else? A genuine desire to shield the President from the worst of the criticism — just like his staff seems to do for him at times?
Even with all the idiotic malarky we are thrown day in and day out from the crew in charge in the WH and Congress, though, it can’t just be all about what is wrong with the Bush Administration and their malignant network of cronies and Rubber Stamp Republican Congress pals. Voters are headed to the polls around the country in primaries, in advance of the fall elections in November.
We need something to vote for — not just something to vote against — in order to secure a Congressional majority in November for the Democrats. Now would be a very good time for all of the grown-ups to step up to the plate. A whole lot of Mr. Smiths would go well with the political climate of the moment. This nation needs its leaders to rise to the occasion and lead the way out of the wilderness in which we find ourselves at the moment.
Mr. Smith, it’s your turn. Carpe diem.