Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bush's Iron Maiden

(updated below)

The media often talks of how George Bush lives in a bubble. Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" hints that Bush himself created this bubble, not the people around him. It's more like a reverse iron maiden than a bubble, however. Bush only hears what he wants to hear. His staffers won't say anything that contradicts his opinion or hints that his policies aren't working, not because they don't want to, but because they suffer from battered-wife syndrome: he verbally assaults anyone who challenges his worldview.

Two recent events bring his obstinance into high definition technicolor view that should cause even the most hardcore Bush supporters to roll their eyes. The first was Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 20th. Everyone who witnessed his virtuoso rendition of "Theme and Variations on 'I don't recall'" was stunned by how poorly he addressed the critical issues at hand.

CNN’s Dana Bash:

Loyal Republican after loyal Republican in this hearing room, and more specifically, in private to CNN today have made it clear that they are frankly flabbergasted by how poorly they think the attorney general has done in this hearing. … During the lunch break, in private, several very loyal Republicans made it clear to CNN that they were really dripping with disappointment.
CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux:
[White House officials] believe Gonzales is in trouble. … Two senior White House aides here describing the situation, Gonzales’ testimony, as “going down in flames.” That he was “not doing himself any favors.” One prominent Republican describing watching his testimony as “clubbing a baby seal.”
Everyone, that is, except for the one person who mattered: George Bush.

Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino:
President Bush was pleased with the Attorney General’s testimony today. After hours of testimony in which he answered all of the Senators’ questions and provided thousands of pages of documents, he again showed that nothing improper occurred. He admitted the matter could have been handled much better, and he apologized for the disruption to the lives of the U.S. Attorneys involved, as well as for the lack of clarity in his initial responses. The Attorney General has the full confidence of the President, and he appreciates the work he is doing at the Department of Justice to help keep our citizens safe from terrorists, our children safe from predators, our government safe from corruption, and our streets free from gang violence.
I want some of what he's smoking.

The second event was the major controversy surrounding former Deputy Secretary of Defense and Bush-appointed World Bank current President Paul Wolfowitz, neocon extraordinaire. For anyone not familiar with this one, Wolfie arranged to provide his non-citizen girlfriend with a security clearance and secondment to the U.S. State Department, where she was given a tax-free salary of $193,000 and change so she could go work for a Republican think tank. She is now the highest paid employee at the State Department exceeding even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. It is virtually unheard of for a foreigner to receive a security clearance, but Wolfie decided to really go for the gusto by using his DoD connections to obtain the clearance without going through the required FBI background checks.

Now Wolfowitz wasn't exactly loved by career World Bank directors and employees when he was thrust upon them. So when his little scheme became public knowledge, a near mutiny occurred. In the weeks since this was first reported, nearly everyone associated with the World Bank has called for his resignation. Even the European Union is out for his head.
MPs asked European Union leaders to press the White House over the subject at a EU-US summit in Washington on Monday.

They voted 333-251 with 31 abstentions to include a paragraph in a resolution on trans-Atlantic relations calling on Germany, holder of the 27-nation bloc's rotating presidency, and the US to ask Mr Wolfowitz to stand down.

They should "signal to the president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, that his withdrawal from the post would be a welcome step towards preventing the bank's anti-corruption policy from being undermined," the paragraph reads.
Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

A reasonable person would expect that revelations of Wolfie's unethical if not downright illegal activities would be of concern to George Bush, the man who appointed him, since it does say something of Bush's credibility and judgment. Who am I kidding? This is George Bush we're talking about here:
I appreciate very much the fact that the World Bank is taking the lead in eradicating poverty in places like Africa, and Paul Wolfowitz, thank you for your leadership of the World Bank.
He either truly does believe what he says, or he believes that he still has credibility when he says something. It really doesn't matter what the true answer is because the conclusion is the same: George Bush is delusional and is a danger to the world as long as he remains in office.

Update: More pressure on Wolfowitz from within the World Bank.

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