Thursday, November 29. 2007
Wichita Eagle editorial cartoonist Richard Crowson weighed in on Bush at Annapolis today:
I don't really get the "Wanted: Abominable snow monster" title, but one thing is becoming clear: Bush has entered his endgame now. He is thinking not just about how history will view him, which is a sort of vanity many public figures share, but how to lock in and make permanent the changes he has attained. He has, for instance, announced that he is working on an "enduring relationship" deal with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, even though most of the Democrat contenders likely to replace him, and a big majority of the American people, want nothing of the sort. The announced schedule for his Annapolis initiative envisions an Israeli-Palestinian pact by the end of his term -- another little present to bestow on whoever wins the opportunity to clean up his messes. He's long campaigned for making his tax cuts permanent. His numerous executive orders are often intended to outlive his administration, and we can expect many more in his waning days -- not to mention a raft of pardons for all involved in an administration that wallows in criminality.
It's been clear all along that whoever followed Bush would have to wind up reversing almost everything he's done. There's certainly never been an administration that's so consistently, so persistently, taken wrong turns into blind alleys. Still, the waning months of his administration present still more terrifying opportunities for further misadventure -- not least because Bush appears to be going down to defeat, he's likely to see this as the last chance for quite a while to make use of presidential power.
The Crowson cartoon is a propos not only in that Bush's legacy has been one of belligerence run amok but also in the sense that he only ever conceives of peace as the fruit of victory. For him, peace only occurs when your enemies submit to your overwhelming force. That may be what he intends for Annapolis, but Israel has always enjoyed overwhelming force against Palestinians and never gotten their desired measure of submission and acquiescence from it. The dominance Bush seeks may achieve a truce here or there, but it's no substitute for justice, which can only be achieved by acknowledging equal rights for all. That is the one thing the hard core right can never concede, and that is why Bush always finds himself dumbfounded, staring up blind alleys.
But the other thing about Crowson's cartoon is how puny and inept Bush looks in comparison to the mountain of belligerence he has created. Even if he manages to cut his deals with Maliki in Iraq and Olmert and Abbas in Israel/Palestine he will have bargained with people who barely represent their constituencies, who have limited flexibility in what they can agree to and most of all in what they can deliver. Bush is in no better shape: he is not only a lame duck, he has lost Congress and has the worst popular approval ratings in history. That's not enough to keep him from being dangerous, but it's a weak hand for dealing with his problems.