My anxiety over President Bush falls in correlation to how low his popularity ratings go. The more people disgusted with him the less I feel I have to vent on my blog. I've now come to regard him as a Sanjaya: an unforeseen anomaly of the system. One who fooled us, slipped in under the radar, and wrecked the place before we ever knew what hit us.
But, after six weary years, it looks like Bush has finally jumped the shark. Oh sure, we still have the war in Iraq, which may now be responsible for over 600,000 deaths and a mass exodus of over a million Iraqis. Sure, he is still in power for another 18 months and he still shows an unwillingness to make any prudent command decisions but I think America has finally seen the light.
When both the House and Senate pass a bill calling for a timetable for withdrawal and the President threatens a veto I don't even feel a twinge of excitement anymore. Scoffing at the electorate's wishes is just his way.
When Alberto Gonzalez is revealed to be a liar and the President refuses to hold him accountable I am not even surprised. Rewarding loyalty over competence is the first priority of the Bush White House.
When Dick Cheney lurks behind a hedge during a Bush press conference I don't even find it interesting. Cheney is just a creepy guy.
What is worse than negative press? No press. And I think that's the realm that Bush and the neoconservatives have fallen into. It's not that they're not bungling the war, ruining the future stability of the Middle East, and in-debiting the country for future generations, it's that the on-going bungling is hardly newsworthy anymore.
The neoconservative thought that enthralled so many Americans after 9/11 was this: That America should be filling the cold-war vacuum with it's power, setting the peoples of the world on a natural course towards Democracy. Iraq, for it's continued insolence, became the unwitting subject of such ambitions. It was believed that freedom would sprout where a dictator was removed. High thinkers like Richard Perle thus claimed Iraq a suitable candidate for Democratic reform.
Six years later I think we can rule the test a failure, the policies not just inept but unjust. To invade a country and remove its ruling powers with no plan for rebuilding is not just lazy, it is criminal.
My hope is that we have learned there are limits to our power. It's not how we can wield such power, but when, and why. These, and other unasked questions fall into the realm of judgment which someone like the President has never had any need for. Even now, after crashing the nation on some ill-advised joyride his father brings his lawyers in to help.
No one wants to view their president as a bungling fool. I certainly don't. But let's face it, anyone who demands to be recognized as "the decider" and then rattles off one mistake after another deserves a little chiding. When put to the test he has become a running gag in the daily news and is now held in contempt now even among his own party.
It's hard to imagine what could happen in 18 months that would surprise me. If tomorrow I were to pick up the paper and read we have invaded Iran I wouldn't be too stunned. That is where we have sunk to and why no one really cares anymore: the more insane the less surprising. What would be a real shock is to hear some true wisdom and leadership come out of the White House. Until then I am going to try to think about better things. In 18 months it will all be over, and Bush's place in history will be secure. Then, like the Romans, we will work on blotting it from our memories, like sewing salt over the ruins of Carthage.