Illness this week, from which I am now completely but slowly recovering, will make it impossible for me to do the week's events justice, but with hits running at over 1000 a week I wanted to check in with my readers, and also very quickly to summarize what may well be a pivotal moment in our history.
We are now past the point, it seems to me, where this Administration can go down in history as anything but a disaster on a wide variety of fronts. Just this week we have had the repudiation of almost 800 years of Anglo-American history, as the Bush Administration has attempted indefinitely to eliminate habeas corpus for anyone accused of aiding terrorists. (Senator Arlen Spector pointed out that we are not in the midst of a rebellion or invasion--see last week's post--but voted for the bill anway.) We also, after many months, have the release of irrefutable evidence that Jack Abramoff was in constant contact with the highest levels of the White House, starting with Karl Rove. Representative Foley of Florida, who in the past has sponsored legislation against child sexual predators, has resigned after the release of an instant messaging session he had with a former capitol hill page--an episode which once again raises the question of exactly how much Republican homophobia actually reflects guilt over its purveyors' own impulses. And Bob Woodward's book will apparently show how determinedly the President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense have ignored all real information about what has been happening in Iraq for the last three years. Certainly much of this will penetrate into public consciousnes in the next five weeks, and I think there is a good chance--but far from a certainty--that the Democrats will win at least one house of Congress. Then they can at least introduce legislation to restore the U.S. Constitution, even if they cannot force the President to sign it.
We clearly remain in danger, however, of having the Iraq disaster actually benefit the right wing. President Bush's complete refusal to re-evaluate policy in Iraq--which I do not expect to change no matter what happens--means that no withdrawal will take place until after he is out of office. Conservative Republicans will then be able to attempt the same kind of public relations coup that German General Erich Ludendorff pulled off in 1918-19. Having realized in September 1918 that he had lost the war, Ludendorff demanded the appointment of a centrist government to ask President Wilson for an armistice. When he realized what the terms would be he spoke out against accepting them, forcing his dismissal. When the German Emperor refused to give up his throne, as Wilson had more or less demanded, revolution broke out in Germany and a new leftish (though not leftist) government accepted the terms. It never recovered from doing so--Ludendorff accused it of stabbing Germany in the back, and Hitler picked up the same legend. It is already happening here--and not for the first time.
I was appalled to read that Henry Kissinger has been urging the President to stay the course. Recently released taped conversations from the fall of 1972 show that Kissinger assured President Nixon that if South Vietnam fell within a couple of years after a peace agreement, he could simply blame the incompetence of the South Vietnamese. But when South Vietnam did fall in 1975, Kissinger decided to blame the American people and the Congress instead, and he has been doing so ever since. It does not seem to be going too far to say that this has become a cornerstone of Republican strategy. Launch a foreign adventure. If it works, celebrate it. If it is obviously failing, blame the Democrats who are pointing out the truth.
I shall post at greater length sometime this week.