I have to admit I've been trying to see behind the screen that is the Administration's Social Security so-called reform. I've come to expect such a high level of political killer instinct from the Bush Rovers that the apparent flop of the social security initiative, after its announcement from the bullpit of the State of the Union speech, makes me twitchy. What is Rove's strategy within this strategy? Its hard for me not to expect him to pull a silk purse out of such a wretched pig's ear.
Could it be that they really misread their own voodoo on this? Perhaps they thought only the old crusts who inhabit AARP remember the story of the boy who cried wolf (though it appears these geezers are in need of a good dose of Joe McCarthy themselves). The whacked logic we've already learned goes
1. alleged terminal threat
2. huge expenditure of blood and riches on my friends
In the case left over from the first term, we are alas unable to wreak adequate political vengeance because to do so would not be supportive of the troops. (Here the whack logic is a syllogism: 1. the troops are valorously putting their lives on the line; 1b. the troops are fighting in Iraq; 2. Iraq is a valorous effort.)
Spending lives is a permanent get-out-of-political-lies-jail-free card for W. Like a strange twangy spider, he seems to have gotten fat and smarmily self-satisfied on such pickings. From his mouth comes a sticky web of misdirection and cant, but the magic words of war make him invulnerable to criticism. That smirk is also part of it---I can well imagine that the stories of it being difficult to deliver the bad news in the oval office might be true.
An example of this sense of presidential infallibility comes from a news conference after meeting EU leaders on 22 Feb, during W's recent tour to see his buddies Tony, Jacques and Gerhart. A European reporter asked, in part, about whether W would attack Iran. Here's the full question (transcript here):
Q A question for President Bush. President, you came to Europe with a very constructive speech. And, indeed, you said very few things the Europeans couldn't agree with. But actions speak louder, so do you actually commit to taking more into account the European position on international matters? And do you actually commit to, for instance, prevent from launching action, strikes against a sovereign member state, state like Iran, without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council?
After rambling on a bit about European negotiations with the Ayatollahs, the two state solution, and other free association, W delivered the punch line:
And finally, this notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter.)
I originally heard this last clip on the radio. W's voice is raised in mock vehemence about how ridiculous it is---then there is a beat---then the "all options" tag. ( The "(Laughter)" is in the official transcript.)
Only an overwhelming sense of rectitude equips a man to threaten an entire nation with invasion, in the form of a joke, based on the actual reality of thousands and thousands of previous casualties (including the slaughter of 1500 of his own troops).
What I am wondering now and watching closely to see is the moment that Nixon emerges from behind the Reagan mask. W sounded a bit edgy today in New Jersey, even among his chosen people. If somehow the machine has run uniquely and strangely off a high cliff, I think we will get to see the W of the second presidential debate a lot more often.