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Monday, November 06, 2006

Giving a head case unfettered powers for another two years
Posted by Jill | 7:46 AM
Krugman has it exactly right:

At this point, nobody should have any illusions about Mr. Bush’s character. To put it bluntly, he’s an insecure bully who believes that owning up to a mistake, any mistake, would undermine his manhood — and who therefore lives in a dream world in which all of his policies are succeeding and all of his officials are doing a heckuva job. Just last week he declared himself “pleased with the progress we’re making” in Iraq.

In other words, he’s the sort of man who should never have been put in a position of authority, let alone been given the kind of unquestioned power, free from normal checks and balances, that he was granted after 9/11. But he was, alas, given that power, as well as a prolonged free ride from much of the news media.


What if the Democrats do win? That doesn’t guarantee a change in policy.

The Constitution says that Congress and the White House are co-equal branches of government, but Mr. Bush and his people aren’t big on constitutional niceties. Even with a docile Republican majority controlling Congress, Mr. Bush has been in the habit of declaring that he has the right to disobey the law he has just signed, whether it’s a law prohibiting torture or a law requiring that he hire qualified people to run FEMA.

Just imagine, then, what he’ll do if faced with demands for information from, say, Congressional Democrats investigating war profiteering, which seems to have been rampant. Actually, we don’t have to imagine: a White House strategist has already told Time magazine that the administration plans a “cataclysmic fight to the death” if Democrats in Congress try to exercise their right to issue subpoenas — which is one heck of a metaphor, given Mr. Bush’s history of getting American service members trapped in cataclysmic fights where the deaths are anything but metaphors.

Here's what I want to know, as polls begin to tighten up: What is making Republicans and presumably some independents forget about the carnage without end in Iraq? What is making them forget about the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, resulting in a still largely deserted New Orleans? What is making them forget about the huge deficits caused by this administration's tax cuts for its friends? What is making them forget about the declining value of their homes? What is making them forget about the spectre of war in Iran? What is making them forget about the hypocrisy of Mark Foley and those House members who pimped teenaged boys for him by looking the other way?

I have my own theories. Part of it is playing on fear. Republicans have become expert at tapping into the reptilian brain -- that part of the brain that is involved in survival and so is susceptible to fear conditioning. Whether doing push-poll robocalls that refer to stem cell research as scientific experiments on unborn babies or running TV ads that play on southerners' fear of oversexed black males or saying that anyone who disagrees with Administration policy loves the terrorists or talking about the homosexual agenda to recruit your children and make them go see Broadway shows and watch the Oscar® telecast, they're experts at playing on Americans' fears -- and the 9/11 attacks were a giant blue Tiffany box handed to them to enable them to do that.

But part of it is the failure of many Democratic candidates to make much of an impression other than "I'm not him" -- and the failure of the mainstream media to give those who ARE trying to break through any coverage, except through the filter of the right wing. For example, where was the tubthumping coverage of a Republican who never served accusing an Iraq war veteran who left both legs in Iraq of wanting to "cut and run"? But a bigger problem is the fear among some Democratic candidates to break the hold of Washington consultants and stand for something. It's no accident that Ned Lamont, after Hillary Clinton's consultants got hold of him, has uttered nothing of any consequence since -- and has faltered in the polls as a result. And here in New Jersey's Fifth District, we are plagued with Paul Aronsohn, a weak Democratic candidate for Congress who promised Democratic leaders that he could raise $1-$2 million dollars but who has instead raised less than $500,000. Aronsohn showed up at a rally on Saturday in an unironed shirt, looking like the Geek Squad guy sent out to fix County Executive Dennis McNerney's PC. Aronsohn's "fight back" mailing in response to opponent E. Scott Garrett's pointing out his ties with the McGreevey/Cipel fiasco has a flattering, soft-focus photo of Garrett on the cover -- and the candidate himself doesn't even show up until page 3 of the mailing.

The Washington Democrats still don't get it. They still don't understand how dirty the Republicans play. They still refuse to play on the same field, choosing instead to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that "The American people are too smart to fall for that." You would think that the fact that the president's name is neither "Al Gore" nor "John Kerry" would be enough to make them wake up. But the precipitous drop of Ned Lamont in the polls after deciding to take the consultants' advice proves definitively otherwise.

Does anyone here want to win this game?
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