Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Has Bush had Enough?

I have no direct evidence to support this theory (but hey, after the invasion of Iraq, who needs evidence anymore), but I wonder if Bush is sick of being president.

Even someone like Bill Clinton, who wanted to be president practically from birth, would find the present circumstances challenging, to say the least. We have what looks like a hopeless situation in Iraq (even Great Britain is signaling that it has had enough and may be pulling soldiers out by the end of 2007). There is trouble in Lebanon and Israel. North Korea and Iran are thumbing their noses at us. Vladimir Putin seems to be auditioning to be a character in the next James Bond movie. The US dollar is sinking like a stone. The opposition party just took both houses of Congress, and a leading news magazine just ran a cover that mocks Bush for having to be taken under his father's wing.

It would take someobody who is truly committed to being president, truly committed to grappling with hard problems, to take on these circumstances. That doesn't seem like Bush.

Maybe I'm wrong. maybe Bush will be energized by these obstacles. Maybe he will draw on some hidden reserve of strength. But I can't help but wonder if he isn't thinking, at least sometimes: how did I get myself into this mess, and how will I get through the next two-plus years?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Uniter, Not a Divider?

The press has been spending a lot of time wondering about whether the Democrats will work with Republicans now that they have won majorities in both houses of Congress. The better question is whether President Bush will decide that now is the time to finally fulfill his six year old pledge to unite, not divide, Americans.

It may be interesting to remember President Bush's bipartisan efforts after he won re-election in 2004. Or, as Borat might say, Not!!!

President Bush crowed about "political capital" he had earned, and intended to spend. He promptly embarked on a quixotic attempt to privatize Social Security that didn't win support within his own party, let alone the opposition.

In the days since the 2006 election, President Bush has signalled he still believes in going it alone, announcing he will try to push controversial measures (like retroactively approving warrantless wiretapping and confirming John Bolton as ambassador to the UN) through a lame duck session of Congress before the newly elected Congress begins its work in January.

This is probably a no-go. As in 2004, both Republicans and Democrats reject Bush's agenda. Outgoing Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) has said he will not permit the Bolton nomination to be pushed through. Senator Leahy (D-VT) has raised serious concerns about an attempt to reroactively ok warrantless wiretapping.

Of course, political realities can change quickly. But as of now, if President Bush continues to choose unilateralism, he will become an irrelevancy.

The Media as Echo Chamber for Propaganda?

The media has been reporting that Al Qaeda has issued statements mocking President Bush and praising American voters for making a "reasonable" choice in this week's election.

I hope no one will think this is "evidence" that terrorists are on the Democrats' side. Let's use our heads here. The terrorists' statements are propaganda. They would love to help divide Americans.

Media reports have failed to make this observation. Instead, they uncritically report the terrorists' statement, helping spread the propaganda.

The reality is all Americans want to bring terrorists to justice. Some of us are frustrated, to say the least, that troops were diverted from Afghanistan (where Al Qaeda and Bin Laden were located) to Iraq (where Al Qaeda and Bin Laden were not).

I'm not saying the media shouldn't report on terrorist propaganda. I am hoping that next time they will infuse their reports with some skepticism, or thoughtful commentary, or both.

Serving as a echo chamber for terrorist propaganda is beneath our media. They can do better.