Belaboring the Obvious

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Poll Here, A Poll There...

... and pretty soon, it adds up to real trouble (apologies to Everett Dirksen, wherever you are). If this keeps up, Bush is going to find himself in a dumpster back of the White House and unable to climb out.

When Fox is reporting a 33% approval rating for Bush in their own poll, you know that it won't be long at all before Sean Hannity starts making pointed suggestions that Cheney come forward and really take charge. With luck, Cheney will refuse to leave his undisclosed location. Or, will go hunting again, instead.

John Dean, with probably more time reflecting on failed presidencies, both in and out of jail, than any living person today, says here that we can expect some sort of "October surprise" because of Bush's political desperation as the elections approach. Bush, thank goodness, isn't running again, but his enablers are, and if they're tossed out by an irascible public, Bush will be positively disposed to develop a strong empathetic relationship with his morning toast.

The question, of course, is what sort of surprise we're going to get. If the past five years are any indication, the choices are limited only by one's imagination. Because of the attacks of 9/11, which continue to attract the attention of all manner of skeptics and rude unbelievers in the official narrative, we've had two wars (both of which, it should be added, are still ongoing), the establishment of a worldwide gulag, institutionalized torture and a domestic spying program that makes J. Edgar Hoover's COINTELPRO look like an eight-year-old trying to get a glimpse of his big sister through the bathroom keyhole.

And that's just the really big stuff. No point in trying to catalogue all the other indignities foisted upon the nation and the Constitution (Plame/Wilson, free speech zones, etc., etc., etc.). They are legion.

So, what manner of political ploy is coming, if one is? If one goes by the intangible evidence, an attack on Iran seems the front-runner at the moment. The greater uncertainty in that possibility is whether or not Bush will order the use of tactical nuclear weapons. I don't think it's any accident that the pundits and the White House have been pushing the notion that Bush resembles Truman. Ostensibly, they're suggesting that Truman rebounded in the analysis of history after exceptionally low approval ratings, but there may be something else at work here, since Truman is the only President to have ordered the use of nuclear weapons. This may be a way of influencing public opinion before the fact.

Yet, since the administration was so wrong in its estimation of the outcome in so many instances (the Iraq invasion being only the most prominent), would the American public, in fact, respond with flag-waving and showering Bush with red, white and blue confetti? The hard-core in Bush's base would, without question, and the media might aid in that effort, for a while, but as news seeped out about the continuing horror resulting from such an attack, one would hope that the public response would be revulsion and repudiation of Bush's actions.

Therefore, timing is important. While the Bush neo-cons have been hard at work trying to complete their agenda of very long standing, the timing of their actions has been largely determined for political effect, whether it be the bullhorn moment, or "Mission Accomplished" (the latter, certainly, being the kick-off of Bush's re-election campaign). If an attack does occur, the most politically effective and expedient time would be just a few days before the November elections--early enough to affect votes, but not so soon as to have TV screens and front pages overflowing with stories of children dying from radiation sickness.

Utterly manipulative? Yes, of course--that's the trademark of this administration. By this time in history, it's not cynical to say that this administration measures and times every action and statement for short-term political effect. It's one of the reasons why they've gotten so many things horribly wrong. But, above all else, it's worth keeping in mind that while Bush is the front man guided politically by Karl Rove, the policy implementation is arranged by Cheney alone, and there's never been such a ruthless character in or around the White House, nor has there been such an inept one.

Whether an attack on Iran, or the manufacture of a brand-new external (or internal) threat, a new revelation of "treason" by the opposition or the seizure of bin Laden, there will be something to help ensure the retention of a Republican majority in Congress. For without that, Bush's term in office will be over, if not in literal fact, then politically. The knowledge that it is coming ought to alert the public to the degree to which it has been manipulated thus far, but as with most things Bush, the public has been slow to reach genuine understanding.

With a little luck, though, Bush may soon be reeling through the White House, unable to contemplate anything for the political noise around him, his hands cupped on his ears like Quasimodo, wailing, "the polls, the polls."

(image from Prof. Pollkatz, who can be found at: )


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