Guest Editorial by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
The bailout of Wall Street is the rancid pickle on an economic crap sandwich that is a result of 30 years of conservative deregulation/trickle-down ideology. The fact that the Bush appointees who devised the original bailout plan are from the same gene pool as the neo-cons, cronies and heckuva-jobbers who turned America into a torture state, spied on Americans, drowned New Orleans, stole two national elections, corrupted the Department of Justice and took the country to war on the false pretext of bringing democracy to Iraq but then screwed up their true intent --- to steal its oil --- should have been reason enough to kill the plan on sight.
But that's not going to happen. As inept and ineffectual as they are at everything else, the Bush team is highly practiced at forcing Congress to act in haste. Six years ago this month, Karl Rove and the White House political shop "created a reality," as one of them has described it, that there was an urgent need to push the Iraq war resolution through Congress just days before the midterm elections. Now we know that the only urgency was Rove's need to get Senate Democrats who were potential Bush rivals in the 2004 presidential election on the record about the war before the election. Iraq post-invasion has been a disaster, but the vote on the resolution was stunningly successful in hobbling the campaigns of both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
Now, in what is either a horrendous coincidence or the most elaborate (and apparently botched) October Surprise in presidential campaign history, as Bush prepares to slouch off to Crawford for good, he is pushing one last crisis down our throats. As with his invasion of Iraq, it will probably be years before we know if this latest crisis is "real," or if it was fumbled attempt by the White House to change the game in John McCain's favor.
It certainly feels like we're being played again...
The White House, with the able assistance of the corporate media, has created a very plausible semblance of a crisis. What's troubling is the fact that in a crisis, ironically, there is no time for critical thinking, and the Bush team has a pattern of creating crises that are useful to them. If there were time for investigation and analysis, it's possible, though by no means certain, that a rational solution tailored to specific challenges could be developed --- or at least there might be time to ask questions and consider alternatives.
Here, for example, is a question George Bush has not been asked: If the economic crisis we're facing is the potentially devastating debacle he says it is, how can we continue to afford the extravagance of the $3.3 billion a week it costs to occupy Iraq?
In his pursuit of Bush's third term, John McCain has been lecturing us for months about how well things are going in Iraq. The metrics certainly seem to indicate that U.S. and Iraqi forces have brought down the level of violence, either through the Surge or by use of a new top-secret weapon. Just yesterday there was a report from Baghdad that U.S. commanders were transferring control of the 100,000-strong Sons of Iraq militia to the Iraqi military.
At a cost of $10 billion a month, withdrawing now --- by New Year's 2009, for example --- would prevent us from having to borrow another $120 billion from the Chinese and other governments next year.
It is likely that Iraq will collapse after we leave. If this is true now, after five years, then it's likely to be true no matter how long we stay. Given that fact, it makes no sense to continue needlessly spending money on the occupation.
Withdraw on Bush's Watch
There's another, more karmic reason to withdraw immediately. Two years ago, Bush slipped up and accidentally told the truth about his "exit plan" for Iraq. "We're not leaving," he said at a news conference in August 2006, "so long as I'm the President."
Shunting the all but certain collapse of Iraq after we leave onto the next president would fit George Bush's lifelong pattern of screwing things up and leaving his messes for others to fix.
In the run-up to the war, in a rare display of principle, then Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Bush about the risk of screwing up Iraq by saying, "If you break it, you buy it." Of course, Bush did screw up, but he did not buy it. The American taxpayers are picking up the trillion dollars tab. And, much more profoundly, it's the hundreds of thousands of dead U.S. soldiers and Iraqi men, women and children who have truly paid the price for Bush's folly.
Eight months ago, NBC's Ann Curry asked George Bush if he thought there was a connection between the drag on the economy and the $3 billion per month the United States is borrowing to pay for his occupation of Iraq. His answer will not surprise you (see the video above right):
BUSH: Yeah, well…
CURRY: They say we’re suffering because of this.
BUSH: … I don’t agree with that.
CURRY: You don’t agree with that? It has nothing do with the economy, the war — spending on the war?
BUSH: I don’t think so. I think actually the spending in the war might help with jobs.
CURRY: Oh, yeah?
BUSH: Yeah, because we’re buying equipment, and people are working. I think this economy is down because we built too many houses and the economy’s adjusting.
(Shorter Bush: The cash I'm giving my fatcat war-profiteer buddies trickles down on the little people. That's why we call 'em "peons.")
As the time ticks away toward January, it is obvious that not only are George Bush and Dick Cheney not going to be impeached, they are not going to be held accountable for the damage they have done to our democracy, the military, the economy or our standing in the world. As has been noted before, they will only receive the same mild rebuke given to Cheney's old boss, Richard Nixon: They will grow old in disgrace.
Unfortunately, unlike Nixon, neither Bush nor Cheney will be at all bothered by the fact that they are embarrassments to themselves and the nation.
At the moment, it appears that McCain and Sarah Palin are flaming out. Barack Obama has said he will withdraw troops soon after he takes office. So why wait? Why not force George Bush to some responsibility for two of his messes --- Iraq and the economy --- on his watch?