White House in Meltdown



Maybe for a moment George Bush thought Bill Frist was calling late Wednesday evening to tell him he was quitting as Senate majority leader on account of his own deepening legal problems, stemming from insider stock deals.

But no, Frist was phoning about problems not his own. He told Bush that the conservative Republican mutiny over the Miers nomination had carried the day. The votes for Miers just weren’t there.

Thursday morning Bush called it quits, using executive privilege as the excuse. Supposedly at issue were disclosure requests for legal memos Miers had written as part her job as White House counsel.

At least, since night had fallen, Bush could be confident it wasn’t a call to tell him that the federal grand jury assembled at the US District Court had issued indictments against top White House aides Rove, Libby, Hadley, Hanna and Wurmser, with Cheney as unindicted coconspirator.

That treat, or portions of it, awaits Bush on Friday. If he has time for any political counsel Rove may have advised Bush it was better to throw the Miers bone to the Republican ultras today. Then to rally them to the President’s side over the weekend, when indictments may dominate the headlines and the Sunday talk shows.

The Miers fiasco seems to have been hatched in the private quarters of the White House, with Laura Bush edgy over the nomination of Roberts and pressing for Miers, a woman and a close friend who might have a flexible posture on Roe v Wade.

So Bush named his legal adviser in an effort at triangulation, meaning a political maneuver designed to neutralize the ultras in your own party. Clinton played this game time after time, reaching over the heads of the Democratic liberals to the right wing in both parties in Congress.

But maybe triangulation only works on Democrats, since the liberals will swallow anything, as Clinton’s victories from NAFTA to Welfare attest.

There are some things conservatives won’t swallow, even if it means humiliating a Republican president in desperate political straits.

Now what? Miers stays in the White House and works on the next nominee to the US Supreme Court.

The Republican conservatives, still resentful at having swallowed Roberts, want an ultra whose implacable enmity to abortion is etched in stone.

This could mean J. Michael Luttig or J. Harvey Wilkinson who both serve on the Fourth Circuit. Or Edith Jones, from the Fifth.

But the dilemma for all Republicans in touch with political reality is that the country as a whole does not want to see Roe v Wade overturned. The voters would exact terrible vengeance on the political party perceived as being responsible for ending choice in America.

A candidate "soft on choice" might be Alberto Gonzales, Miers’ predecessor in the White House and now Attorney General.

But then Bush would reignite conservative fury at a moment of extreme political weakness and also incur the charge of cronyism. Part of the Miers disaster was a failure to appreciate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that cronyism was in disrepute.

Bush, after five years, is now at the point Clinton reached in the early summer of his first year in office: a total collapse in political credibility. Clinton reached out to a Republican fixer, David Gergen, and to Jesse Helms’ campaign strategist, Dickie Morris, plus the most squalid denizens of his own party.

Who can Bush turn to?

The first lifeline would be a dishonorable mention of Dick Cheney in the grand jury’s indictment, prompting the all-powerful vice president to resign.

The path would then be clear for a return of the old guard, with James Baker ­ the man who fixed Florida for Bush in 2001, as the Renovator. The corporate sponsorship of the White House would shift from Halliburton to the Carlyle Group.

It would be the Revenge of Bush 1, already heralded by the recent onslaughts on Cheney’s neocons by Brent Scowcroft and Powell’s number two, Lawrence Wilkerson. It’s a theme worthy of the great classical tragedians.


Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?
Barry Lando
Syria: Obama’s Bay of Pigs?
Karl Grossman
The Politics of Lyme Disease
Andre Vltchek
Southeast Asia “Forgets” About Western Terror
Jose Martinez
American Violence: Umpqua is “Routine”?
Vijay Prashad
Russian Gambit, Syrian Dilemma
Sam Smith
Why the Democrats are in Such a Mess
Uri Avnery
Nasser and Me
Andrew Levine
The Saints March In: The Donald and the Pope
Arun Gupta
The Refugee Crisis in America
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Lara Santoro
Terror as Method: a Journalist’s Search for Truth in Rwanda
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Elections and Verbal Vomit
Dan Glazebrook
Refugees Don’t Cause Fascism, Mr. Timmermann – You Do
Victor Grossman
Blood Moon Over Germany
Patrick Bond
Can World’s Worst Case of Inequality be Fixed by Pikettian Posturing?
Pete Dolack
Earning a Profit from Global Warming
B. R. Gowani
Was Gandhi Averse to Climax? A Psycho-Sexual Assessment of the Mahatma
Tom H. Hastings
Another Mass Murder
Anne Petermann
Activists Arrested at ArborGen GE Trees World Headquarters
Ben Debney
Zombies on a Runaway Train
Franklin Lamb
Confronting ‘Looting to Order’ and ‘Cultural Racketeering’ in Syria
Carl Finamore
Coming to San Francisco? Cra$h at My Pad
Ron Jacobs
Standing Naked: Bob Dylan and Jesus
Missy Comley Beattie
What Might Does To Right
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi Jayanti, Gandhi’s Dream
Raouf Halaby
A Week of Juxtapositions
Louis Proyect
Scenes from the Class Struggle in Iran
Christopher Washburn
Skeptik’s Lexicon
Charles R. Larson
Indonesia: Robbed, Raped, Abused
David Yearsley
Death Songs