FEAR AND LOATHING
March 21, 2006
The arrogance that accompanies merit offends us even more than the arrogance of people who are lacking in merit: since merit itself offends us. --Friedrich Nietzsche
Partisanship is bumping heads with political reality and it hurts.
The Washington Post recently ran a story, 'GOP Irritation At Bush Was Long Brewing' ...festering would have been a better description.
There has been a political 'catch-22' for some time over a want/need to accommodate the party's 'leadership' and the empirical realities of right vs. wrong.
The Bush administration (which has done a lot of 'right' stuff and demonstrated uncommon 'courage') is suffering self-inflicted wounds, which are a direct function of hubris and success morphed with denial and failure. The danger is that in a myopic effort to defend the indefensible and justify the jerky, they now face some very real negative consequences.
The Post writes, " President Bush's troubles with congressional Republicans, which erupted during the backlash to the Dubai seaport deal, are rooted in policy frustrations and personal resentments that GOP lawmakers say stretch back to the opening days of the administration."
However, there were Scribean foreshadows preceding the Dubai debacle.
There has been an underpinning of ‘my way or the highway’…grousing about an ‘Imperial Executive Branch’ and the conflict of supporting the ‘team’ despite the unilateral, insulated arrogance of the team captain.
Bob Novak made some interesting observations on this conflict that merit attention. When guys like Henry Hyde and Jerry Lewis on the Rules committee are comfortable flipping off the President, something is seriously broken.
There are inherent advantages and disadvantages of being a second term presidency. The upside (which may engender avoidable arrogance) is the knowledge you don’t have to suffer through another election cycle. The need to accommodate or even pander to the electorate is gone…kinda. This is (or should/could be) the time to get busy and get stuff done.
However, the very ‘freedom’ enjoyed by second term presidents is mitigated by the reality and angst of the congressional caucus that DOES have to run for reelection.
Payback and blowback are very real dangers, and the realities are now acknowledging the elephant in the living room. The Post observes, “…many lawmakers felt under appreciated, ignored and sometimes bullied by what they regarded as a White House intent on running government with little input from them…” In other words, the administration has corrupted the ‘Golden Rule’: the guy with the gold makes the rules.
The International Herald Tribune’s William Pfaff comments on the new Bush ‘National Security Strategy’ statement by calling it “a lumpy stew of discredited neoconservative idea with some neo-Kissingerian geopolitics now mixed in.” The Herald’s harping is significant for the parallels with GOP angst over ‘their guy’.
GOP Senator Lindsey Graham (who is guilty of his own sins of hubris) has articulated the ubiquitous gripe about the current administration of being “non-responsive and arrogant,”. That is an interesting turn of phrase given many feel Congress (and specifically the Senate) is guilty of being “non-responsive and arrogant”. But Graham is right to acknowledge that the Bush/GOP tension is not an event but a process. “There are a thousand small cuts,” he said, that are ignored when things are cool, but “rear their heads when things are not going well.” And right now…things are not going well.
Karl Rove has to smell the coffee…when Sen. Norm Coleman (a hard core, knuckle dragging Bush supporter) disses the administration for having what he called a political ‘tin ear’, that has to hurt….ouch!
There has been some mumbling about bringing in some new high-end staffers but the ‘problem’ isn’t with overworked insanely dedicated true believers. The problem (and problems) is a direct function of the executive leadership.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and the situation can (and should) be fixed.
FM22-100 (Army Leadership manual) used to say, “Leaders are responsible for the welfare, discipline and tactical deployment of the troops”. It appears this administration has been so focused on discipline and tactical deployment that they have neglected to care for the “welfare” of the troops (Congress), and the negative consequences are obvious.
Reportedly, Bush has already held more nose-to-nose meetings with legislators that previously. He has recently (even before the Dubai port disaster) been meeting with House and Senate members individually (even Democrats).
Bush may not ever have to run for any office again, but those GOP ‘troops’ he has used (and misused) do have to face an increasingly ticked off electorate.
An old Chinese proverb says, “Arrogance invites ruin; humility receives benefits.”
© 2006 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved
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