The past week was a doozy for President Bush. Paul Wolfowitz finally resigned from his post at the World Bank. But not before his attorney, Bob Bennett, negotiated a cushy landing for him — you'll note that Wolfowitz is staying past the June 1st date required to earn his $400,000.00 longevity bonus, so one wonders if that payment was part of the deal? (Since it was also supposed to be a performance related bonus, it must have been one helluva negotiation if Wolfie's account is about to get fatter.)
Heaven knows that passing the buck on part of the blame to allow Wolfowitz to pretend to save public face was a chunk of it, but how much negotiation on Bennett's part did it really take for the World Bank board to pay the man off after he already knew he'd have to leave in disgrace? Nothing like earning a smidge of payola (H/T to Steve Clemons) for being an incompetent jerk with a really good lawyer, is there? (And don't miss this excellent discussion of cronyism, the Bush Administration and the downfall of Wolfowitz from John Burke at Neiman. And Steve Clemons has some great thoughts as well.)
Even Republicans on the Hill have begun to publicly speculate about Alberto Gonzales resigning from his post as Attorney General. Democrats have had to force the President's hand on this, and Republicans are rushing to jump on the "dump Alberto" bandwagon because the President refuses to admit either error or failure, and they are tired of picking up after the mess that Bush leaves behind him. With the mess at the Department of Justice at the moment, there are plenty of questions still being asked about the Bush Administration at this point — their lack of commitment to the rule of law, their lack of care for a department as crucial to the underpinnings of justice in this country as the DoJ, and their need to "win" at all costs, including the cost of decency and freedom all to jigger "the math." Shameful.
In case you missed it, C&L has video of Sen. Arlen Specter talking about this yesterday on Face the Nation. I'm not holding my breath that the Arlen shuffle will hold up to pressure, but it is telling that more and more Republicans are publicly distancing themselves from the President's minions in the hopes of saving their own political arses. Look for more and more of this in the days ahead — and for it not to work after years of rubber stamping for which they ought to all be held to account. The Bush failures are their failures, too, for they enabled them repeatedly for the last six years in a craven attempt to grab every last bit of K Street cash that Rove was willing to have tossed their way, and to get a turn at driving the power buggy so long as they were allowed the illusion of touching the reins while the Boy King was really driving (and even that is debatable about whose hands were really on the reins). Pathetic, but there you are — to sell your nation's ethics so cheaply ought to come at a very high price, indeed. (And don't think for a moment that just because the GOP is tap dancing around Rover's hand from the shadows in all of this that I'm going to forget about it. Not. Gonna. Happen.)
Speaking of high prices (and I'm not talking gas): The nice folks at the national Chamber of Commerce have decided to hold hostage the Bush Administration's push for some legislative action on immigration because…well, frankly, because they can at the moment. The Bush Administration is in such a weakened position from the pile-on of their myriad failures that erstwhile allies like the usual GOP pals at the Chamber can demand that the deal be sweetened whenever they like. Welcome to the world that Bush built, modern GOP. Enjoy. You've earned every painful minute of it by coddling and enabling the Boy King.
And, just for a moment, let's think about the fact that the natural allies of the GOP like the chamber of commerce crowd are demanding concessions and ignoring what George Bush wants because he doesn't have enough clout with them to push this through…and then think about how things are likely going in the international arena where he's made even fewer friends and is influencing pretty much no one.
Witness the fact that there will be no more wet, sloppy poodle kisses from the new British Prime Minister — leader of our staunchest allied nation in Europe. That's how our nation's bestest friends forever are treating us. Feeling safer now?
What is an increasingly marginalized failure of a President to do? Why, escape to his brush farm to entertain other world leaders who would rather be anywhere else on the planet than driving in a beat up pick-up truck on a dusty former pig farm with an infantile egomaniac in charge of the largest military force on earth. The AP describes an invitation to the President's ranch for the NATO leader as a sort of "coup" — perhaps to those who covet attention from the Boy King, but for anyone used to decent accommodations and interesting conversation it frankly sounds a bit more like Dante gone wild.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Al Qaeda is securing substantial new funds (H/T to Digby), increasing its influence in new places, stretching out tentacles in areas that can hurt us over the long term, and operating out of our military's reach in the wilds of Pakistan's mountainous tribal region. Hmmm…funding from our pals in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and elsewhere across the Islamic world where we have failed to make a dent in winning hearts and minds by making every strategic blunder possible the last six years. Still no sign of catching Osama Bin Laden, a man with failing kidneys and a portable dialysis machine in tow, and a bounty on his head to match his notoriety.
Increasing violence in Afghanistan and Iraq…with no end to our involvement in either nation in sight. An ever-shrinking pool of support from anyone else in the world for anything George Bush does, and the knowledge that his lame duckness is only getting worse by the hour. Less cooperation equals fewer eyes and ears on the ground for intelligence sharing with us — because no one trusts the word of the Bush Administration any longer after so many false cries of wolf and so many unfulfilled promises, and so many untended obligations that have been let go to seed. Feeling safer now?
But all is well in Bushworld, because there is brush to clear. Until mean old Harry Reid had to go and spoil the party: (H/T to ThinkProgress)
We hear that over the long August vacation, when those types of summer hires are made, Reid will call the Senate into session just long enough to force the prez to send his nominees who need confirmation to the chamber. The talk is he will hold a quickie “pro forma” session every 10 days, tapping a local senator to run the hall. Senate workers and Republicans are miffed, but Reid is proving that he’s the new sheriff in town.
What delicious icing on the accountability cake the Democratic leadership has been putting together since they took over in January. It is well past time for someone to call the President's increasingly weak and pitiful bluff — and I am thrilled that someone finally put their foot down and told his rampant cronyism and incompetency caravan to stop. For all of our sakes. But I'll bet this made for a shrub that was a wee bit frosted. About damned time.
(Photo of a delicious-looking piece of frosted chocolate cake via David Wilmot. Huge thank you to everyone who chipped in while I was on vacation and filled my posting spots — it was a lovely trip, and all the lovelier for me and for Mr. ReddHedd because I didn't have to worry a moment about the blog. Very much appreciated!)