Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Disturbing Story about Bush's State of Mind

This story is actually the mixing of four different sources. Americablog starts it off by reporting that President Bush is in the midst of a meltdown. The source of Americablog's story is the extremely conservative Washington Times Insight story titled Bush rarely speaks to father, 'family is split.' Here is the opening paragraph for the Insight story:

President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

The rest of the Insight story is subscriber-based, meaning I cannot access it without paying money to the Washington Times. However the Drudge Report includes more little details regarding the Times story. Here's what the Drudge Report says:

President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, INSIGHT magazine claims in a new report.

The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

"The atmosphere in the Oval Office has become unbearable," a source said. "Even the family is split."

INSIGHT: Sources close to the White House say that Mr. Bush has become isolated and feels betrayed by key officials in the wake of plunging domestic support, the continued insurgency in Iraq and the CIA-leak investigation that has resulted in the indictment and resignation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.

The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions. [Italics are mine]

Now the Daily Kos. The Daily Kos also reports, through the Washington Times article, that Bush is only maintaining contact with Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, Rice, and Hughes. But Kos adds another interesting little piece of information regarding the split between George Bush and his father. This is another part of the subscriber article from the Washington Times, as cited by the Daily Kos:

For the president, what triggered the break with his father was the interview given to the New Yorker magazine in October by Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security advisor in the first Bush presidency. In the interview, Mr. Scowcroft criticized the administration's handling of Iraq. The sources said the president is convinced that Mr. Scowcroft consulted with Mr. Bush's father prior to delivering the devastating critique of the president's Iraq policy. [...]

Relations between Mr. Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, had also become tense in the build-up to the indictment of Mr. Libby. This is due to the fact the president believed his chief aide when Mr. Rove said that he had nothing to do with the leak of Mrs. Plame's identity. The prospect that Mr. Libby will turn state evidence in the Plame case is even more alarming for the White House.

Now I'm not sure what to make of all this. First, the Washington Times is owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his Moonies. It is an extremely conservative paper--sometimes considered the mouthpiece of the Republican Party. So I wouldn't consider it as reputable as other mainstream press organizations. But then there's these anonymous administration sources for this Times story. Since the Washington Times is a conservative paper, its reporters could certainly have cultivated some serious connections inside the White House, considering the Times may have written a number of stories favorable to the White House. These administration sources could certainly have said something to the Times reporters regarding the environment in the Oval Office. And any journalist who can get this type of information from several administration sources knows he/she has a scoop on their hands. So there could be a grain of truth to these Times stories. Or the Times reporters are simply lying, making this stuff up, or insulating President Bush from possible impeachment or indictment by making him seem like he's losing it. I cannot say.

But there's another interesting aspect to this story. And that's the information inside the story itself. If the Times article is accurate, then President Bush has insulated himself even further by listening to the advice of four women--his wife, his mother, and twconfidantsnfidents of Rice and Huges. As president, you need advisors with the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience on a wide-range of policy issues. And sometimes, you need dissenting views on policy issues to foster and encourage debate within your staff to think outside the box and come up with unique alternatives. President Bush has never really had that type of staff--he's always been surrounded by "yes men," who've developed their own policy issues around Bush's broad ideals, then have slickly marketed them to the president. Look at how the PNAC neocons have gotten Bush to adopt his policy, since Bush had always felt his father was wrong for stopping short the First Gulf War. So to have these four women giving President Bush advice regarding complex foreign, defense, and domestic policy issues, while Bush is shutting out the advice of more experience policy analysts (Career analysts and not the neocons or Bush-appointed cronies), is rather disturbing.

The second aspect of this Times story is both Karl Rove, the Bush's supposed falling out with his father. According to the Times, relations between Rove and Bush have become tense when President Bush believed Rove's claim that he had nothing to do with the Valerie Plame leak. And the investigation may still point towards Rove. If this is true, then Rove lied to President Bush. The problem here is that Bush can't really fire Rove--Bush needs Rove more than Rove needs Bush. Karl Rove is the chief political strategist and brains behind the Bush White House. With Karl Rove gone from the White House, the Bush administration becomes even more lost, more aimless, and more helpless in trying to sort out these complex issues. I'm not saying Karl Rove is good or bad for the Bush White House. I'm saying that Karl Rove is one of two of the most powerful men in the Bush White House (the other being VP Dick Cheney). With Rove gone, the Bush White House would become even more disjointed, confused and contradictory in its political strategy and policy issues.

Now the Bush falling out with his father, George H.W. Bush. The Times article said that George Bush is convinced that Bush Senior gave Brent Scowcroft advise for Scowcroft's critique of current President Bush's Iraq policy in the October issue of New Yorker magazine. Never mind the fact that Scowcroft was the national security advisor for Bush Senior's administration, and was certainly closely involved, with Bush Senior, in the First Gulf War. So the president is angry at both Scowcroft and his father--Scowcroft for criticising Bush's current Iraq strategy, and Bush Senior for allegidly advising Scowcroft on the critique. If anything, these are two people the president needs in his inner circle of advisors--if he is to find a way out of Iraq. The neocons are running the "stay the course" PR message, while happily turning the U.S. into an imperial power in the Middle East, with disasterous results. And the only close advisors that President Bush is listening to are four women, who have almost no experience regarding this issue? But this brings up another problem with President Bush, and that is his extreme stubborness and hubris. Bush has never experienced a major failure in his life. He's always had Daddy Bush to bail him out, whenever he needed help. Regarding Iraq, George Bush has always felt that his father was wrong for not marching into Baghdad and taking out Saddam. So the Iraq invasion was George Bush's way to right the mistakes of his father's administration. The problem is that this second Iraq invasion was a terrible mistake on the son's part, and the son will refuse to admit it to the father--or ask for the father's help in correcting this mistake.

So what does this mean? If the Times story is true, then Bush is living in a bubble--further disconnected from reality than we could even realize. The pressures are certainly not going to abate. Iraq is still deteriorating. Bush's poll numbers are still falling--and we've got three more years to go of his presidency. I'm not sure how long these four women of Bush's life can provide policy advise as this country descends into a Twilight Zone of madness. What would happen if this country faces another crisis, similar to 9/11 or Katrina? I'm not sure what's going to happen in the next three years, but it doesn't look good.


Dark Wraith said...

Good morning, Mr. Hopp.

A brief comment is in order on the Washington Times angle. It is not much of a secret the Sun Myung Moon has a seething, long-term vendetta on George W. Bush. The origins of this might be in the minister's conviction and imprisonment on tax-related charges years ago, but it probably goes deeper, into stories that will be heard only years from now.

That Bush has alienated what is arguably an extraordinarily powerful, if seriously demented, man like Moon is bad enough; but major rumors, some of them fed by The New York Observer, point to a growing disdain for Mr. Bush by Rupert Murdoch. He has been sending all kinds of subtle and perhaps not-so-subtle signals that he is re-aligning himself with none other than Bill and Hillary Clinton, most definitely the latter, who is reciprocating by moving troublingly to the Right in some of her public statements and positions. Just a couple of days ago, on her visit to Israel (not coincidentally concurrent with the visit of Condoleeza Rice), Ms. Clinton voiced her unequivocal support for the barrier the Jewish State has erected between it and Gaza, a position with which the United Nations and quite a few other states disagree. Ms. Clinton's sweeping criticism of everything from the Palestinian Authority to the Palestinian "people" would be music to Rupert Murdoch's ears, who must soon begin the process of transitioning the support of his media empire from Bush to her.

Now, we need to put all of that into the background of a more general sense Bush and his neo-con supporters have of impending "betrayal" by the mainstream news media. Although by any reasonable standard, most newspapers, and television and radio news outlets remain stunningly incapable of speaking directly to the disasters this Administration has wrought upon the Republic, its treasure, and its world reputation, from the perspective of Mr. Bush and those remaining around him, the timid, emerging voices of criticism in the media constitute something approaching an outrage. It is not so much that Mr. Bush has failed (he has failed at many endeavors he has undertaken); it is that he is having a far harder time than ever before keeping himself from being exposed to the damnation of him as a leader and, by Texas extension, as a man.

This will get worse until he carries out his version of a blood purge at the end of the year. This will be a wholly cosmetic exercise, but it will give him a sense that he has done something that merits his return to grace in the eyes of the media, which he sees as working with the Democrats in Congress to drive the negative sentiments of the public right now.

It remains to be seen whether or not the media will swallow this rehabilitation gambit as signaling real change in the way the Bush Administration conducts himself. My prediction is that, unlike what happened in the second Reagan term when the greybeards of the Republican Party took Ronald Reagan by the scruff of the neck and put a belt across his butt to get his Administration to straighten up, the changes to occur within this Bush Administration will be entirely superficial. That means, among other things, that Mr. Bush and his tight circle of evangelical and secular neo-cons will continue to drag the nation down a ruinous road from which there might not be an exit, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office come January of 2009. Even a fully neo-conned Clinton in tasteful pumps probably won't be able to extricate the Republic from the death spiral Mr. Bush has initiated.

This is the perspective of the Dark Wraith.

Eric A Hopp said...

Hello Dark Wraith:

First, let me thank you for posting your comments here. It is certainly a pleasure and an honor to hear from you.

I did a brief google on Sun Myung Moon and Bush, and there are certainly some close ties between both families, and between both Bush presidencies. Both Bush Senior and our current president have given speeches on behalf of Moon, and have received payments from Moon for those speeches. I would also imagine that our current President Bush would give Moon, and his Unification Church, plenty of our tax dollars through the Faith-Based Charity initiative. I'm not sure what this vendetta is between Moon and Bush, nor am I sure we're going to get the entire story of it--if it ever comes out years from now.

If there is a vendetta between Sun Myung Moon and President Bush, then Moon certainly has the capability to go after Bush with his Washington Times. I would doubt that Moon, or the editors of the Washington Times, would criticise the Bush administration on policy issues. Moon needs the Republican Party to expand his political and media influence within Washington DC, and the last thing he wants to do is anger the top Republican Party leaders and "wise old men." But a character assassination of Bush the president is certainly fair game. It would be an attack on Bush the individual, while distancing the Republican Party, and its ideals, away from the president. This gives Moon the best of both worlds. He can continue attacking Bush in whatever vendetta he has, while at the same time providing the Republicans a means to distance themselves away from the president, and the potentially damaging effects that may occur against the Republicans in the 2006 midterm elections. Granted, this is all off-the-wall speculation here. But it is interesting.

I also find your comments regarding Bush and Fox media mogule Rupert Murdoch especially fascinating. I'd say that Murdoch has been looking at the political landscape of the near future, and doesn't like what he sees for the Republican Party. There are only so many GOP talking points that Fox News can regurgitate, before the American public may start to grow tired of listening to. And if that happens, the last thing Murdoch would want to hear is for Fox News ratings to be dropping. So Murdoch's alignment with Hillary Clinton is a means for Murdoch to CYA for the next couple of years, if the Republican Party self-destructs. I doubt that Murdoch would openly endorse a Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2008. But I wouldn't be surprised if Murdoch refuses to unleash Fox News' dogs of smear whenever Hillary announces a run for the White House in 2008. And of course, Hillary is certainly positioning herself for a possible run in 2008, considering she has moved more center-right on the political spectrum.

But your comments regarding the mainstream media are well said. The mainstream media should certainly be held accountable and responsible for their failure in accurately reporting the disasters the Bush White House has wrought upon this Republic. The Bush White House their Republican spin-meisters have so effectively muzzled any critical dissent on a number of issues from the press--especially the issues leading up to the administration's war in Iraq, where critical debate on the war was attacked as being unpatriotic and supporting the terrorists. Now with the Bush White House sinking in the polls, is it okay for the corporate news media to reassume their role as a government watchdog? Perhaps, but the press should never be forgiven for the damage they themselves have wrought upon the Republic due to their own negligence and incompetence.

A final point. You're right about whatever purge the Bush administration does over the next couple years will be superficial. The neocons and evangelists are too far entrenched into the White House, and their policies of the last five years will have lasting consequences to the U.S. for decades to come. Not only would Bush be incapable of pushing these crooks out of the White House, but he may also be incapable of asking for help from his father, or the greybeards of the Republican Party. And even if President Bush somehow finds it within himself to kick Cheney, Rove, Wolfowitz, Pearle, and the rest of the neocons out of the White House, you can bet that the neocons will do everything they can to utterly bring down and destroy both the Bush presidency, and whatever's left of Bush's reputation, in a spiteful act of retribution and revenge.

It is going to be a long three years.