Friday, October 28, 2005

Politics in America.



Ms. Miers has now stepped aside to avoid further embarassment for the Administration. She will be denied the opportunity to be considered for the Supreme Court because she had no support from the President's "base" and none from the Democrats, of course, who should have been pleased.

It was pointless for the President to insist on this nomination once it became clear that there was no chance to establish support for the embattled nominee with anyone -- not with Republicans or Democrats. There was no way G.W. could win a fight for Ms. Miers's confirmation. This is something the White House should have anticipated. Hence, to avoid further embarassment to the President, Ms. Miers got the message to step down.

This nomination -- perhaps unfairly -- makes the Administration look idiotic and cowardly, which is not good for any future political battles. And there will be some. My guess is that Mr. Bush is furious at some of the unfair criticisms directed at his nominee. This was the response to his effort to find a conciliatory "middle-of-the-road" Conservative for the Court. I would be angry too.

The result of this nomination catastrophe is: 1) that Mr. Bush, allegedly, now "feels no need to give special consideration to a woman for this office"; and 2) the next nominee will be acceptable to the far Right, leading to a contentious battle in the Senate, where the Republicans have the votes -- a contentious battle leaving much rancor and animosity in its wake. Great, just what we need. More controversy. More division. More mutual sniping from politicians.

American politics has become a contest in personal destruction, where what matters is what goes on behind the scenes which does not appear in any transcript. The deals are cut when no one's looking, which is exactly what voters should not want in a democracy. The role of "therapists" and other consultants (meaning "spies"?) in these personal destruction campaigns is not clear. My guess is that both sides use them.

It is particularly regrettable that Ms. Miers has now been smeared as incompetent or incapable of performing the duties of a Supreme Court Justice, without being afforded the opportunity to be heard on the issues, or to have a 30 year career as a successful attorney assessed on the merits. American politics has now descended to this level of vitriol and backstabbing, or worse.

Many of our finest Supreme Court justices had no judicial experience and were quite obscure before coming to the Court. I think that Ms. Miers would have made a good Supreme Court justice because she is not an ideologue. Her political and negotiation skills are much needed among those "nine scorpions in a bottle" (Holmes), wearing designer black robes. I wonder if Chief Justice Roberts is going to keep those stripes on his robes? I hope so, because it gives the "Supremes" a Gilbert & Sullivan look.

This may be the lowest point in G.W.'s term in office. He is being attacked from all sides of the political spectrum and insulted in the press. Thus, it is the perfect moment for an independent, who disagrees with 97% of what he says and does -- but who does not like to see people beating up on someone who is outnumbered -- to come to his aid, expressing sympathy for G.W.'s plight and a continuing willingness to support the White House, if only the Administration could come up with a suggestion worth supporting. The suggestions on immigration are not terrible and deserve a second look, even from a pro-amnesty advocate. Iraq is an unmitigated disaster. We should get the hell out of Iraq as soon as a safe means of doing so is apparent.

I say, on behalf of Mr. Bush: "Onward ride the six hundred." It occurs to me that this phrase will mean nothing to people today. It is from a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson (who?) about the "Charge of the Light Brigade" during the Crimean War. Any resemblance to current events, by the way, is very much intended. It is a poem celebrating heroism even in a foolish or idiotic cause. (See my earlier comment in this blog entitled "An Act of Grace.") I remember a fun movie based on this poem which starred Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn. Wouldn't it be great if you were called "Errol"?

I know, I know ... A poem? Are you kidding? Yes, folks, poetry. There is poetry for every occasion.

A little reminder, boys and girls: the President of the United States is in a difficult geopolitical struggle against global terrorism as well as contending with opponents at home, a hostile media, the ill-will of Hollywood, mounting economic pressures, indictments of close associates, and he can always count on the hostility of the "More-Left-Than-Thou" crowd, which loathes anyone who does not live in the East Village or who has a kind word for globalization. He is embattled. President Bush, Vice President Chenney, Ms. Rice, and possibly Karl Rove must now be regarded as "The Light Brigade of American Politics." I say we join them. Where is your spirit of adventure? (Am I serious?)

The intellectuals are horrified at G.W.'s fractured syntax ("we live in a theocracy!," says Harold Bloom) and the Christian fundamentalists wonder whether G.W. is only twice- or thrice-born, and whether he is a sufficiently "God fearing" man. Some even wonder if -- and they only whisper this accusation -- G.W. is a "liberal." Are you kidding? He lives in Crawford,Texas.

True, there are fewer accusations that G.W. is "dumb." Perhaps Mr. Bush has finally put such charges to rest with his recent perceptive comments, such as his shrewd observation that "most of our imports now come from other countries." It's hard to argue with that claim. The President has the kind of intelligence that most political leaders have and that is not testable on a multiple choice questionaire. After all, it was President Bush who recently pointed out -- echoing Mr. Nixon -- "answers are not the solution."

Yes, this is the perfect moment for me to express support for Mr. Bush, if only to annoy the sanctimonious, "more-politically-correct-than-thou" crowd that hovers for warmth around the Nation magazine, while still irritating the all-white Christian conservatives at National Review, who demonstrate their commitment to diversity by including in their all-white, male, Ivy league and trust fund ranks, at least one guy who parts his hair in the middle and wears a bow tie.

I am with you, Mr. President. It's you and me in this bar fight, sir, against the forces of darkness. Hey, do you think you can get Arnold or Bruce Willis to join us? Maybe?

These divisions in the national psyche and festering hostilities will make it very difficult for the nation to deal with tough issues facing us: such as, coping with the economic challenge posed by the rise of China and India; the growing gap in economic realities in the country; the gender-based, ethnic and racial divisions in a nation that is no longer unified, culturally or politically; rampant nihilism and despair among young people; an increasingly pointless war in Iraq from which we cannot extricate ourselves; isolation in the world; a human rights catatrophe that makes us the opposite of a moral example when it comes to issues like torture.

Let us not forget blatant corruption in American government and organized crime's involvement in politics (but enough about New Jersey), coinciding with the increased importance of money in elections. Corporate greed, excused by politicians, who are sometimes "bought and paid for" by big money. Denial of access to universities or of publishing opportunities for minorities and poor people should also be recognized, and our complaints should be heard.

In light of these crises and the global need for articulation of America's values and concerns at this critical moment in history, it is shocking that the nation with the largest number of political pundits in the world finds its Washington spokespeople forming a mutual masturbation society, while ignoring the global community that, I repeat, needs to hear from us NOW.

Who are we now? What do we believe? Where do we stand as a people, above and beyond party lines? Little things like that require public discussion.

You hang in there, Mr. President, and let's see if we can fight our way to the door. Incidentally, I'd do the same for Senator Clinton. And my guess is that she's just as good a fighter as the President. Maybe a little fancier, she's got that political Kung-Fu stuff down. The President uses the old Texas style, which still works. I guess. Have you seen his boots?

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