(Great image by Brooks Kraft/Corbis for Time Magazine. The looks on both faces pretty much sum up current feelings, don't they?)
President We'll Do It My Way, And Keep Your Opinions To Yourself had a presser today. I notice that he's speaking more loudly of late, and punctuating his speech with a lot of consonant emphasis. Maybe Karen Hughes has been working on his diction, but it's coming across as crabby-assed annoyance at having to answer questions from the press. Which begs the question, why bother having a presser at all if you are just going to be annoyed throughout?
Whatever the reason, keep it up. As Tom Schaller points out, George Bush's mess is dragging the entire Republican brand into the failure ditch:
According to the latest Gallup survey, Republican self-identification has declined nationally and in almost every American state. Why? The short answer is that President Bush's war of choice in Iraq has destroyed the partisan brand Republicans spent the past four decades building.
That brand was based upon four pillars: that Republicans are more trustworthy on defense and military issues; that they know when and where markets can replace or improve government; that they are more competent administrators of those functions government can't privatize; and, finally, that their public philosophy is imbued with moral authority. The war demolished all four claims….
Notice, too, how management "success" has been steadily defined downward: from disarming an unarmed Saddam Hussein, to bringing liberation and democratization, to establishing basic security, to avoiding a domestic civil war, to "holding and clearing" Baghdad, to the current goal of preventing a regional conflagration that wouldn't be imminent had we not gone to Iraq in the first place. Talk about the soft bigotry of low – and lowering – expectations.
Tom points out so many of the failures of Republicans to provide any oversight of war profiteering, among so many other failures. Not to mention the host of piss poor decisions, piling up on one another day after day after day.
At the presser today, President Bush was asked about sharp criticisms about his "Korea deal" from none other than former UN Ambassador and neocon John Bolton, who said:
U.S. officials have said they would craft their negotiating approach so as not to reward the North's "bad behavior" in breaking out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, ejecting inspectors, manufacturing bomb-grade plutonium, and–last fall–test-firing a nuclear bomb. But even before many of the negotiators from the six participating countries left Beijing, erstwhile supporters of the administration were charging that it had done just that.
John Bolton, a former top arms control official and envoy to the United Nations, told CNN that with this "very bad deal," the administration would "look very weak, at a time in Iraq and dealing with Iran that it needs to look strong." Added Heritage Foundation analyst Bruce Klingner, "North Korea has again foiled attempts to penalize it for violating international commitments."
The assertion by critics that North Korea had somehow bested the United States was, paradoxically, partially shared by many supporters of the deal. Their complaint: The years of delay in getting to this point have allowed North Korea to multiply its stockpile of plutonium several times over the one or two bombs' worth thought to exist when the crisis erupted in October 2002.
Ouch. When even the neo-conniest of neocons and the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation start taking potshots at you publicly in the press, you are really tanking. Let the intra-Republican party sniping, fingerpointing and buck-passing begin.
Heckuva job, Bushie — keep on keeping on. And keep taking the Republican brand of failure along for the ride. Is it too much to ask, however, that you don't drag the rest of the nation down into the ditch with you?