Bad Weekend for Bush
Thank God George W. Bush doesn't read the papers. A presidential suicide would be an ugly thing, especially on Flag Day.
Today's press is brutal for Bush, and it's a brutality his administration has earned through 3.5 years of bad politics and worse policy.
First, Elizabeth Bumiller in today's New York Times notes some of the more obvious distinctions between Ronald Reagan and George W.- Bush is worse on film, meaner in politics, more elitist:
Of course, Mr. Bush's effort to wrap himself in the Reagan legacy drew plenty of skeptics, including a number of top Reagan officials, who said, all anonymously, that the presidencies could not have been more different. Mr. Reagan was pragmatic, they said, but Mr. Bush is ideological. Mr. Reagan was a unifier, they argued, while Mr. Bush has polarized.Second, 26 "retired U.S. diplomats and military officers" came out against George W. Bush's re-election. They didn't explicitly endorse Kerry, but that only means they think Nader would do a better job than Bush.
"We agreed that we had just lost confidence in the ability of the Bush administration to advocate for American interests or to provide the kind of leadership that we think is essential," said William C. Harrop, the first President Bush's ambassador to Israel, and earlier to four African countries. [See also: LA Times]Third, the New York Times reports new evidence of unsavory ties between Halliburton the White House and the Office of the Vice President:
In the fall of 2002, in the preparations for possible war with Iraq, the Pentagon sought and received the assent of senior Bush administration officials, including the vice president's chief of staff, before hiring the Halliburton Company to develop secret plans for restoring Iraq's oil facilities, Pentagon officials have told Congressional investigators.Once again, Waxman is on the job [pdf].
The newly disclosed details about Pentagon contracting do not suggest improper political pressures to direct business to Halliburton, the Houston-based company that Vice President Dick Cheney once led.
But they raise questions about assertions by Mr. Cheney and other administration officials that he knew nothing in advance of the Halliburton contracts and that the decisions were made by career procurement specialists, without involvement by senior political appointees.
Fourth, Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN Special Envoy to Iraq, has resigned. On the heels of Bush's reputed outreach to the UN, this can't be good news. How soon before Brahimi spills the beans on the administrations obstruction? He's already called Bremer the "dictator of Iraq."
Fifth, the NYT reports on the failure of the "surgical" airstrikes designed to decapitate the Iraqi leadership. Apparently these were based on the administration's now patented brand of magical intelligence, yet resulted in the deaths of plenty of muggles.
Sixth, Afghan elections have been delayed, again. Meanwhile, the administration is basically complicit in the rebirth of the Afghan drug trade.
Seventh, the administration's heavy handed tactics in politicizing U.S. churches finally went over the line, with Bush personally asking the Pope to help his campaign. As a liberal Catholic, I don't often understand what pisses off my co-religionists, but I have a pretty strong reaction to this. Josh Marshall dissects the situation. Remember, this is on the tale of Bush trying to illegally politicize churches in Pennsylvania, and House Republicans trying to make it quasi-legal after the fact.
Eighth, the CIA has gotten itself into trouble by delaying declassification of a Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the agency's failures in the lead up to Iraq. With Tenet's resignation, Bush may think CIA problems are off his back, but anytime the press mentions "intelligence" in the same sentence as "Iraq," things are rough for Bush-Cheney.
Ninth, Bush is having trouble getting credit for the job growth that is supposedly taking place. Perhaps Bush is having trouble getting credit because not many voters work in the Defense industry?
War has usually been good for the economy in the short run, and this one appears no different. In the first three months of this year, defense work accounted for nearly 16 percent of the nation's economic growth, according to the Commerce Department. [Washington Post 6/10/04]Tenth, Bill Clinton will be distracting attention from Bush by touring the country, selling his book, campaigning for Kerry. How long, do you think, before he is accused of breaching campaign finance laws?
Finally, of course, is Abu Ghraib. A host of new disclosures, all of them bad for the administration. They deserve their own post, so I'll oblige. Coming soon.