Some political pundits are making connections between the tragic presidencies of Richard Milhous Nixon and George Walker Bush.
Those political wunderkinds earn their livings as purveyors of analysis-for-profit and they are now finding similarities in the corruption of the Nixon and Bush administrations — and they openly question aloud with building ferocity — why Nixon was prosecuted and why Bush takes no leave and offers no sword upon which to impale himself for his own misdeeds.
Frank Rich of the New York Times perhaps best explains the human disconnect between Nixon’s crimes and Bush’s incompetence:
Unlike Nixon, President Bush is less an overreaching
Machiavelli than an epic blunderer surrounded by Machiavellis. He lacks
the crucial element of acute self-awareness that gave Nixon his tragic
depth. Nixon came from nothing, loathed himself and was all too keenly
aware when he was up to dirty tricks. Mr. Bush has a charmed biography,
is full of himself and is far too blinded by self-righteousness to even
fleetingly recognize the havoc he’s inflicted at home and abroad.
Though historians may judge him a worse president than Nixon — some already have — at the personal level his is not a grand Shakespearean failure.
This is in part why persistent cries for impeachment
have gone nowhere in the Democratic Party hierarchy. Arguably the most
accurate gut check on what the country feels about Mr. Bush was a January Newsweek poll
finding that a sizable American majority just wished that his
“presidency was over.” This flat-lining administration inspires
contempt and dismay more than the deep-seated, long-term revulsion
whipped up by Nixon; voters just can’t wait for Mr. Bush to leave
Washington so that someone, anyone, can turn the page and start
rectifying the damage.
Yet if he lacks Nixon’s larger-than-life
villainy, he will nonetheless leave Americans feeling much the way they
did after Nixon fled: in a state of anger about the state of the
The rage is already omnipresent, and it’s bipartisan. The last New York
Times/CBS News poll found that a whopping 72 percent of Americans felt
their country was “seriously off on the wrong track,”
the highest figure since that question was first asked, in 1983.
Equally revealing (and bipartisan) is the hypertension of the parties’
two angry bases. Democrats and Republicans alike are engaged in
internecine battles that seem to be escalating in vitriol by the hour.
In our collective memories,
we yearn for logic.
We crave steps that lead us beyond mere wonderment and into conclusion.
We are required now, as moral Americans, to be overwhelmed by
corruption, while still stating a social, emotional, disgust with both
Nixon and Bush.
In that dissent against the majority rule, we are re-formed and re-born
against the national norms of the convenient present and we demand to
be warranted with the promise of a cleaner and clearer tomorrow.
Then we awaken
without singing — as we witness our elected leaders crashing into each
other over a bungled war policy — and the rest of us, the most of us,
are left to meander in our own misery,
looking to the horizon, hoping to bet on a winner, but facing the odd
reality we are still only surrounded by the corrupt and the prepaid;
while history, buffeted our repeated mistakes, laughs.
More impeachment rumblings:
From yesterday’s Meet The Press:
When I was younger and I read Doonesbury comics that dealt with the Nixon administration I used to think, “I’m glad I don’t have to live with that kind of president.”
We’ve managed to sink lower than that.
I am astonished by how bad things have gotten in the last six years. I only half-laughed at a bumper sticker I saw recently : “Bush-Cheney ’08 – Who cares about the law?”
I sense that people are tired of both sides. The poll numbers show that clearly.
The far right is upset with Bush over immigration policies. The far left is upset that the Democrats won’t leave Iraq immediately.
Everyone in the middle is numb because of all the fighting and probably wants everyone to go home except for the independent who tried, but failed, to get a bill to lower credit card interest passed.
Locally, people are complaining to their leaders about ever increasing tax burdens. The issue cuts across political boundaries because pols from both sides don’t seem to have any solution that will make anyone happy. Making the situation even more desperate is the news that 9,300 properties went up for tax auction recently because their owners couldn’t or wouldn’t pay their ever increasing tax bills.
It makes for interesting political times because one can’t necessarily look for direction just by voting for a party label because it seems that both parties — while the make a lot of noise about being different — end up supporting each others schemes either by commission or omission.
Akismet zapped me!
Hi Chris —
I think the center of the national 2008 election will be the Middle East and, especially, how to get out from under Iraq. That nation is our mess and we are required to find a way to clean it up even if we aren’t the ones doing the bidding on the ground any longer.
All politics is local, but young local kids are getting mowed down in Iraq every day and colors and influences the outrage of a community. It’s becoming harder and harder to find someone who DOESN’T know a family forever changed by the loss of a life in that war:
There’s a groundswell of outrage that is growing louder and more ferocious every day.
I have no idea why Akismet a-Zapped you, Chris!
I also sense that people around here don’t want us to pull out just to have us go back into Iraq again to clean up the mess. If we had a way to disengage ourselves from the Middle East, I’m sure everyone would be in favor of calling it a win and leaving that forsaken place forever.
But, even the Democrats — for all of the dancing around the issue they do — don’t seem inclined to want to pull out too quickly just yet. (History suggests that they will win the Presidential election because it is hard for a party to keep power for longer than 8 years).
The Democrats say they want to leave, but they know that they’ll be going back in to Iraq in 2009 or 2010 if they do, so they’d rather keep this Gulf War as Bush’s fault and not interrupt the time line. The ultimate horror would be to have the whole Middle East spin out of control while they stood by watching. At least now, they can say the continuation of the war means that any failures are the fault of Bush and the “Neocons.” If the timeline is broken, people will forget and will blame the Democrats for any failures that happen during their administration(s).
Things could get sticky very quickly if we pull out too quickly:
However, there is a glimmer of light. If the Democrats can reach out to the Iranians, pull out of Iraq, let them take over Iraq and roll onward to Saudi Arabia, we might knock out some of the craziness since the Wahhabies are as opposed to the Iranians as they are the U.S. We’ll probably have to do some offshore drilling while oil production is disrupted.
Cindy Sheehan — who was arrested in Washington D.C. today — has called the Democrats out for being all talk and no action, so it is likely that even if they impeach Bush, they won’t do much different since they haven’t done anything to stand out so far.
The problem with the Democrats, Chris, is they don’t have enough of them in the Senate to get anything done — so that is a problem they are stuck with but can’t do anything about.
Without 60 votes nothing can happen. People are blaming the Democrats for inaction in Iraq when it’s really Republic Senators who refuse to cross the line to join the other side in doing the right thing.
I wonder if the solution to the problems in the Middle East is to realign with Iran and let the House of Saud fall?
I bet there is no will for anyone of any political stripe to do that. If we pull out of Iraq, I’m sure we’re pulling right into Saudi Arabia.
I certainly think if we pull out of Iraq we will be deep in the surrounding nations for decades to come providing our version of the American Dream of a White Picket Fence made with rifles and infantry.
We sealed our fate early on by invading a sovereign nation without having our facts in place and the price we pay is the price we will all be forced to pay for generations to come in more treasure and blood.
There would have been problems in the Middle East because the radical factions were upset that we were in their holy land, even if we had limited our focus to Afghanistan. All of the Wahhabies were upset with us being in Saudi Arabia and made that clear with their terrorism directed at the west, notably the first and the second attacks on the WTC.
We might have been wiser to have put pressure on the House of Saud to stop their support for the Wahhabies than attacking Saddam.
But, we can’t forget that Al Gore was saying bad things about Saddam in 1992, including Saddam’s support of terrorists and the development of nuclear weapons.
The lesson of the Iraq War is that next time we better be prepared to win the peace for the long term if we invade, a la Germany, South Korea or even Eastern Europe.
Hi Chris —
Oh, there’s no doubt that Saddam was a bad guy in 1992. He just didn’t have Weapons of Mass Destruction as we claimed he did when we decided to forcibly take over his country in 2003.
If we’d had proper checks and balances in place — say a Democrat congress and a Republican president — we never wouldn’t tendered a foot into Iraq.
I was watching “A Bridge Too Far” for the second time with my friend and realized the significance of strange political dynamics in a war –
you never know who is satisfying what – personal agenda or political favor.
That’s a wonderful insight, Katha, and one we must always remind ourselves to ask: Who is profiting from this war financially?
But the mass judgement is sometimes clouded by the false sense of patriotism.
Exactly right, Katha. Too often jingoism pretends to be patriotism with fatal endings.