Saturday, November 26, 2005


Remember all that capital you boasted about having earned, Bush? That would be about a year ago, I guess, after your re-election. I kind of doubted at the time that you'd earned as much as you seemed to believe, but look how little of it there is left at this point. And it's not that you've actually spent it, Bush. we might be seeing some results from that. No, you've squandered it, recklessly.

I think it was the columnist, David S. Broder, who pointed out on Washington Week last night that the coin of the realm, for a president, is credibility. That's his capital. A renewable resource, for those who use it wisely. But also a rapidly depletable resource, for wastrels.

So where have you chosen to spend this capital? Well, of course there is your war in Iraq--increasingly unpopular for your Rumsfeld's conduct of it, for your constantly shifting justifications for it, and for the deception it took to get us there in the first place. And there is the sheer, unbelievable incompetence of your administration, in handling everything from the nation's deficit to the aftermath of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Then, too, you were elected basically on your promise of safety, and you have delivered only escalating insecurity.

It might still be possible for you to recover some of this diminishing resource, but only, I think, if you're ready for the kind of action that has proven impossible for you in the past: you need to clean house. You need to proclaim, loudly, your understanding that the people you have chosen to surround yourself with have failed you and the American people; and you need to recognize, publicly, that their services have proved inadequate, then fire them and find competent replacements. To do this, you'll need to listen to someone other than the advisors who have let you down so badly in the past, and to voices other than those of your right wing evangelical "base".

Because your credibility has eroded in large part thanks to your poor judgment of character, your belief that loyalty, along with a common ideology, is enough to assure competence. I know you find this hard to believe, Bush, because it's something you pride yourself on. But at some point, finally, the reality becomes unavoidably plain: these people you've chosen--from your Rumsfeld at the Pentagon all the way down the line to your Brownie at FEMA--have proven horribly incompetent in the jobs you've handed them. If you don't see this, Bush, believe me, the rest of the world does. How much more needs to go wrong, at home and abroad, before you recognize this simple truth?

The thing is, Bush, at this juncture, the rhetoric will only wash so far. No matter how hard your Cheney blows, no one believes him any more--with the possible exception of your good self and a small handful of the faithful. In fact, what you're getting now is the blowback effect: the more you repeat the same tired old assertions, the less we folks out here are likely to believe you. And there's not a single voice in your adminstration, so far as I can tell, that's ready to tell you that it's time to contemplate the kind of change you need to make, if you're to reverse the current disenchantment with your presidency.

So stir it up, Bush, for God's sake. For ours. For your own. Let some big heads roll. Tell us that you've come to understand that things have not been going so well on your watch, that we need a course correction, a few new faces in the crew, a few new voices in the chorus, singing a different tune. Then, and only then, you might see the store of your capital begin to grow again. Perhaps only tentatively, at first. But any small sign of change at this stage would be welcome. Any small sign that the reality is sinking in.

1 comment:

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