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The Midterm Meltdown

Rogue President

by MICHAEL CARMICHAEL

The president seems confused. After making a curious remark observing that the war in Iraq was placing a strain on the psyche of America, President Bush has become the primary focus of concerns about a strained psyche.

Last week, the president uttered more than one oracular pronouncement. First he acquiesced to the analogy that has been on everyone’s lips since well before the launch of the Iraq War–Does Iraq resemble Vietnam? In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, President Bush agreed that the Ramadan offensive in Iraq smacks of the Tet offensive of 1968.

Later in another interview–President Bush stunned America with his pronouncement that he had never said that the US would, "Stay the course," in Iraq. After recovering several verbatim transcripts of the president’s use of the exact phraseology that he now believes he never uttered, American pundits are puzzled by this expanding enigma enveloping the president’s personal discourse. What will he say next?

That question was answered today, when President Bush addressed a small group at the White House with fifteen minutes of remarks during which he admitted he was now, "dissatisfied," with American progress in Iraq. Apparently, the President is dissatisfied that no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) were discovered in Iraq. The loss of nearly 3,000 American lives and the disturbing growth in the insurgency now appear to be factors adding to the president’s dissatisfaction.

From that point in his White House talk, the President veered off into a rambling statement that quite simply defies definition. President Bush said that he would stay in Iraq until the, "job is done," and, "we cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war," followed by an order aimed at the American people to disbelieve what he described as, "enemy propaganda." From that mystifying turn of phrase, President Bush assured his audience in the White House, "I know the American people understand the stakes in Iraq. They want to win. They will support the war as long as they see a clear path to victory."

From this melange of mystification, it is now perfectly clear that President Bush has not read the newspapers for the past seven days–neither is he aware of the latest polls from America’s heartland. The American people have lost confidence in his rogue presidency. Now, two out of three Americans believe that his presidency is a rapidly mushrooming disaster. By a two to one margin, American voters believe that the Democrats are better suited to deal with national security issues and terrorism than the Republicans. Why has nobody in the White House told the President that his policies in general – and his war in particular – are now unacceptable to the American people? Why is the president allowed to blather on and on about facts that fly in the face of reality?

America is a young nation, but an aging democracy. While America has suffered through rogue presidencies in its past: Pierce; Polk; Buchanan; Grant; McKinley; Harding; Coolidge; Hoover; Nixon and Reagan–it has never suffered quite as horribly; quite as tragically; quite as fatefully or quite as expensively as it is now suffering under the presidency of George W. Bush.

This conundrum affects President Bush most of all. From the president’s perspective, the world appears to be distorted as if he is witnessing events through a macabre prism twisting and contorting reality into a nightmarish illusion that defies his admittedly meagre powers to discern the true state of things.

Other commentators have written that President Bush and his family have taken every wrong fork in the path of American history since they came to power through the career of his grandfather, Prescott Bush. The wrong-headed attack on American history continued in a stark line through the career of President Bush’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush. But, in a sort of exponential surge of destiny, the honour of distorting American history into a lamentable caricature of its worst nightmares fell to the current President Bush.

Viewing this unravelling travesty, the elder generation of Bush loyalists have taken the extreme measure of stepping into the breech to seize the helm of the American ship of state to pilot her to safer, saner and hopefully more placid waters. Last week, the Bush family consigliore, James Baker, leaked a story about the findings of the Iraq Study Group. In their opinion, the war in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster, and a new policy is needed to extricate America from the quagmire. The presidential state of denial diagnosed by Robert Woodward, must be broken by the facing of certain home truths–America must leave Iraq.

That this story was leaked when it was–ie. two weeks before a crucial election – reveals the deep concerns of the Republican seniority over what appeared to be nothing less than a Bush-Cheney plan to launch World War W–by attacking Iran in the final days prior to the dreaded midterm elections in America.

When North Korea exploded her atomic device, that option–a new world war – could no longer be categorized as a rational alternative. While Bush and Cheney were prepared to wage one of their pre-emptive wars on Iran, they could not be allowed to take that step in the aftermath of North Korea going nuclear.

The equations of political algebra and diplomatic calculus had to be re-calibrated with the new factor of a nuclear regime in Pyongyang–and the embarrassing fact of the sweaty and itchy index finger of Kim Jong-Il now twitching and jerking on a nuclear trigger of his very own.

When Kim Jong-Il hit the streets of Dodge City to face off against George W. Bush, George W. Bush and his backers decided it was time to get out of Dodge.

Thanks to the policy of President Bush, post-Saddam Iraq is now being described as the, "most hellish place on earth." Thanks to the policy of President Bush, nearly three-thousand American soldiers have lost their lives in the sands of Iraq. Thanks to the policy of President Bush, the American people have invested the better part of one trillion dollars into creating the hell of Zalmay Khalilzad’s Iraq. Thanks to the policy of President Bush we now know that the Interim Government of Ayad Allawi embezzled over eight-hundred million dollars during their relatively short time in office.

The polls in America predict a stunning change of power in the halls of Congress. Democrats are poised to return to the majority in the House of Representatives and to make gains in the Senate.

With Karl Rove’s hand poised over the election-stealing electronic voting machines fabricated by Republican corporations, the Office for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe, now the world’s pre-eminent authority on the fairness of elections, have announced their mission to supervise the American midterm elections. According to reports in Europe, the OSCE is keenly interested in the allegations of e-voting and election fraud in Bush’s America.

To distract the voters, Rove has launched a campaign to sell America on the vibrancy reported to have broken out in the US economy. Now that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now hovering circa 10% above its level when Bush took office, Rove is calling it an economic miracle. Now that 6.6 million jobs have been created in the same period of time as it took Bill Clinton’s administration to create over 9 million jobs, Rove is attempting to sell the US economy to the voters as a triumph for Bush and the Republicans. Pity him, for Rove has little choice, now that Iraq has gone pear-shaped.

Bad as the situation in Iraq actually is, that does not mean that Bush and Rove will not try to brand their retreat as a victory. In their terms, a military defeat is always a victory as long as they were in command.

The walls are closing in on the presidency of George Walker Bush. His old enemy, Gerhard Schroder, has just launched his book decrying the Bush presidency. Schroder reported that meetings with President Bush bordered on the impossible as his sanctimonious staff repeatedly assured his guests that the president was a, "god-fearing" man. Needless to say, Shroder records that it was difficult to do business, to meet or to negotiate with such a head of state, one that clearly fancied himself to be a divine right monarch straight out of the pages of medieval history rather than the head of the world’s sole superpower.

Given the rapidly multiplying constellation of crises and criticisms hitting his presidency in its metaphorical face, President Bush has taken the extraordinary step of investing in a tract of private real estate. For the past week, the international press has been spellbound by reports that Jenna Bush, the president’s daughter, has negotiated a real estate transaction in upper Paraguay for a huge ranch even by Texas standards. Now international speculation presumes that the Bushes have taken the advice of their family’s consigliores to maintain a bolt-hole hideaway just in case of the eruption of problematic or discomforting political developments in their homeland.

From my undergraduate history of the Cold War, I seem to recall that after the Allied victory in World War Two, the northern reaches of Paraguay provided a refuge for Nazi war criminals–including Dr. Josef Mengele. A rogue Nazi, a rogue president–a refuge for rogues in the mists of Paraguay – is that a coincidence–or not?

MICHAEL CARMICHAEL has been a professional public affairs consultant, author and broadcaster since 1968. In 2003, he founded The Planetary Movement Limited, a global public affairs organization based in the United Kingdom. He has appeared as a public affairs expert on the BBC’s Today Programme, Hardtalk, PM, as well as numerous appearances on ITN, NPR and many European broadcasts examining politics and culture. He can be reached through his website: www.planetarymovement.org