Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Is Bush Judgment Proof?

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will remain in his post until President George W. Bush leaves office. Such a prognostication is always risky--though far less so than it would have been a month ago--but the reasoning behind it is simple: Bush has decided to get stubborn about Gonzales. Bush knows this Senate will never impeach anyone in his administration unless they are actually convicted of a felony... so why should Bush budge?

Similar logic holds for the Democratic attempts to attach strings to Bush's supplemental funding request for OIF. Bush knows that Congress will fund the soldiers in the field no matter what... so why should Bush even bother to negotiate? Furthermore, Bush can rest assured that nearly any veto he makes will be sustained in at least one chamber, so the Democrats are hamstrung there as well. People speak of keeping "pressure" on Bush, but Bush has been living with basement-level approval ratings for over a year now and doesn't give a damn anymore. What does he care what the Washington Post writes?

My question for the blog is: how can the Democrats get some leverage on Bush? They can try to swamp the White House with subpoenas, but already many officials in the Bush administration have refused to give testimony on record (much less under oath!) in the Gonzales case. The Democrats could shut down the government like Gingrich did in 1995, but it will probably fail similarly--and even so, Bush cares little for any part of the government except the military, and he knows the Democrats will never starve the Pentagon in the current climate. The Democrats could refuse to pass any of Bush's legislation... but I am scratching my head to guess what legislation that might be: does anyone know of anything Bush wants to do now except keep the Democrats from repealing his tax cuts?

Is there anything the Democrats can do? Is it really possible for Bush and his war to become so unpopular that a third of the Republicans will break ranks and override a veto? As far as I can see, the Democrats best hope is that Bush or Cheney will personally insult enough Republicans that they are willing to break with him. In other words, other than hoping the Bush administration will shoot itself in the foot again, there is little hope of ending this war anytime soon. Otherwise, I think Bush can keep doing what he is doing because, politically speaking, he is judgment proof.


Anonymous said...

By forcing Bush to use his veto and, more importantly, forcing the Republcians to go on record defending it, the Democrats are ensuring accountability in the only way we'll get it - by winning the 2008 elections.

Every Republican who stands up and says with their vote, "I support the President" loses support for November 2008.


Bush is insane if he thinks his party will be happy with a 2008 election in which Iraq is the main issue AGAIN.

The Democrats should do exactly what they've been doing. Proposing things Americans want and forcing the Republicans to veto them on the record. Before the Democrats had control of the House and Senate the Republicans could avoid making it so obvious how out of touch they really are.

USWest said...

I said a month ago that this is the danger when no one in the White House is looking for election. This is one reason why Cheney was deemed a good VP pick. They could do what they wanted without having to worry about the VP's presidential electability. Under the circumstances, I think the Democrats are doing the best they can. They have to walk a fine line of doing just enough without over doing it.

All of this is a giant game of chicken. And believe you me, it is going on at all levels of government. I know first hand, from the smallest issues (like waiting to approve payment for work related travel until hours before your flight to see if you will pay it yourself) to the largest (who will blink first over the Pentagon’s budget), it is just a game of chicken. It is going on in every agency at every level. As a student of politics and organizational management, it is amazing to see just how deep the attitude at the top permeates the entire system. It is a big waiting game. No one wants to make needed adjustments or changes to anything! In fact, the government has increased its bureaucratic maze 3 fold in the last year simply as a butt covering and stalling technique.

If the American people want to see change over the next 18 months, then the American people have to get politically active in a meaningful way. They have to stop traffic in the streets by protesting en mass, stop spending in the stores, start having sit ins at gas stations until the prices are brought down, etc. But this won't happen because we as a public are so busy trying to make ends meet with our dollars being stretched thinner that taking time to get active beyond the ballot box isn't an option. We sit back and say, "Well, we'll waiting out Bush and his cronies because they will be gone in 2008.” So we have delegated governing to a point that is, I think, unhealthy for a democracy. None of us really knows what to do or how to get enough people together to do it.

There is no collective sacrifice in this country. If I could be president tomorrow with no holds bar, I'd institute a draft and a system of mandatory military or civil service, no exceptions but for age. That would show the world how serious we really are about Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. We are not a unified nation because the very institutions that unify us have broken down. The socio-economic gaps are larger than ever. Our public school system is now broken in to rich and poor areas, private and charter schools vs. plain jane schools. Our communities are hardly integrated ethnically. We, despite all the claims about social networking internet sites and the like, are more isolated as individuals and more distrustful of our neighbors and fellow citizens. When Mexicans can wave Mexican flags on the streets of LA while claiming that they want American citizenship, then we are no longer a nation joined by democracy or patriotism. We are joined only by the markets and the desire for wealth. Gee, sounds a little like what Carl Marx predicted for capitalism, no?

Until we can create greater solidarity in this country around the democratic values we claim to hold dear, then we are doomed. It means our representatives can’t represent us because they can’t get a bead on what it is we really want. When only 30% of the voters participate, then how can they claim to speak for the people? I’m sorry, but if the people of this nation aren’t going to take more responsibility for its direction, then I can’t expect Congress to have much power to check an imperial presidency.

Dr. Strangelove said...

"The government has increased its bureaucratic maze 3 fold in the last year..." could you explain what you mean, USWest? That sounds fascinating.

USWest said...

Dr. S, I will answer that offline. I don't want to get into the details of that here. Suffice to say that we require a lot more levels of approval to make purchases. Things get buried or lost. The tracking mechanism for documents are poor or non existent. So a lot of people are developing work arounds, such as calling in old favors or pulling a M*A*S*H type tactics- being creative with regulations to get around them, ignoring them totally, or bending the rules.

What you have is paralysis period. A lot of people are being given responsibility without authority or authority without responsibility.

Thus, this morning, the White House announced that they wanted a War Czar who would "ride roughshod over the bureaucracy". Bureaucracy equals inefficiency and unaccountability.

USWest said...

Oh, and I by no means uspport this "War Czar" thing. I think it is stupid. I think it undermines the military, which is already hostile toward civilians because of what has happened in Iraq.