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Bush’s X-Files

From the X-files of political conspiracy theory, here’s a nasty thought: What if Bush and Karl Rove aren’t really expecting to win on Social Security?

What if this whole campaign and road show is a grand diversion designed to keep Democrats, and especially progressives and the labor movement, all worked up and focused on saving Social Security, while the White House and congressional Republicans (and their quizling Democratic supporters like Joe Lieberman) do major damage in myriad other areas.

Notice how little effective opposition there was in Congress, and especially out in the street and in communities, over the bankruptcy bill, over the latest round of $82 billion in funding for the War against Iraq, over the restrictions on class action lawsuits.

Look at how the voting integrity issue, the question of fraud in the 2004 election, and drilling in the Artic Refuge, have all died away.

Look at how little attention is being paid to the Congressional assault on liberal judges.

When you consider that this president is among the least popular chief executives to have won a second term in the history of the White House (if he indeed won at all), and that his party’s majority in both houses of Congress is thin, it’s nothing short of astonishing that he’s been having such an easy time of it, legislatively.

One might even argue that there’s method to the madness of putting rabid dogs like John Bolton up for a nothing job like UN ambassador–a post that has traditionally been the equivalent of being put out to pasture. Like the campaign against Social Security, it gets the more progressive Democrats all riled up, but ends up having them waste time and energy opposing something that, in the grand scheme of things, is really rather meaningless.

The Democrats, who at this point stand for nothing, are particularly vulnerable to such a strategy of diversion, because, with nothing to campaign or stand for, they are looking for sound-bite friendly issues to bluster on about, without having to really do anything of substance.

The administration has handed them several of these non-issue issues to play with already.

Viewed this way, there is really no downside for the White House. If the president loses on Social Security, he can just say he tried. If the Democrats ultimately beat back the idea of private accounts in place of the current system for younger workers, and a compromise is found that involves offering private accounts on top of Social Security, the president will claim that as a victory (and he’ll be correct).

As for Bolton, if his nomination is defeated with the help of one or two Republican votes, it will be a defeat for Bush but so what? The Democrats in Congress, being the wusses that they are, will not be emboldened by that victory to start blocking other more important appointments. More likely, they’ll figure that they’d better avoid looking like obstructionists, and will support the next batch of right-wing hacks and charlatans the White House puts up for federal posts.

Bolton could, in other words, be like the helmet on a stick that gets held up during a trench war, so that a platoon can make a charge while the enemy is concentrating its fire on the empty hat.

As long as the Democratic Party continues to play defense, and refuses to challenge the underlying pro-corporate, anti-worker, imperial agenda of the Bush administration, Bush and Rove will be able to keep Congressional Democrats, mainstream Democratic voters and even the left running around from issue to issue like ants disoriented after the rock covering their home has been lifted.

Meanwhile, while they scurry around ineffectively, the U.S. economy is being hollowed out, health insurance is being terminated by even large corporate employers, the environment is being destroyed, schools are being turned into test centers, the country is getting dragged ever deeper into an endless war, cities are falling back into decay, the Constitution is being trashed, and corporations and the rich are getting ever richer.

It’s all devilishly clever.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of This Can’t Be Happening. He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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