Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bush's Blues....maybe

Reading the BBC’s analysis of the current political climate in Washington (President Bush faces second term blues) suggests to me that things must not be all that bad for Bush at the moment. For if they were, there would be little reason for the BBC to engage in such distortion in trying to convince us of how dire the situation is for Bush.

Reporter James Coomarasamy (henceforth to be called JC, thankfully) begins by reading George Bush’s mind and asserting he is delusional.
When President George Bush famously said on the day after his re-election that he had earned political capital and was now going to spend it, he was already succumbing to that classic second-term delusion of infallibility.
Not he “seemed to be” succumbing, or he “might have been” succumbing, mind you. No. JC knows W, and W was succumbing to it. But what about this “classic” delusion, anyway? This must be one of those “classics” that’s cropped up in the 13 years I’ve been out of the country, because I’ve never heard of it before. I would have thought, though, that if it was so much a “classic”, Google wouldn’t have such a difficult time finding a reference to it.

JC continues:
With approval ratings at their lowest level of the presidency - over the situation in Iraq and an unpopular domestic agenda - it may be that Mr Bush had earned less capital than he thought.
Now that sounds more likely than the delusional theme. But I’m sure that I remember talk of Bush’s approval ratings plumbing new depths last year. Is it really true that he’s sunk even lower? Alas, no. It appears that JC got that one wrong, too.
He has encountered unexpected cross-party resistance over some controversial nominations, such as John Bolton's for UN ambassador, in a Republican-held Congress unwilling to roll over.
I sometimes wonder whether I share the same language with BBC reporters. I mean, “cross party resistance” is hardly the term I would use to characterize a situation in which a single Republican senator joins forces with 37 Democrats to obstruct the passage of a nomination. But then again neither would I hold out a filibuster organized and implemented almost exclusively by Democrats as an example of a Republican congress “unwilling to roll over”. Is it me?

More JC:
When the Republican leadership tried to force through the appointment of judges by threatening to end the Senate tradition of filibustering, seven Republican senators struck a deal with seven democrats.
Ah yes. That long held Senate tradition of filibustering federal judicial appointments that has been implemented all of once in the approximately 220 year history prior to Bush’s term in office. Again, we seem to have a language problem. By “Senate tradition” JC obviously means “nearly unprecedented action”. Interesting, isn't it, that Republicans attempts to have a vote are "forcing" but Democratic obstructionism is an exercise in "tradition".

And who does JC go to get a bead on what Republican’s in the Senate are thinking? Why, none other than Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chaffee, the man who refused to vote for Bush in the last Presidential election and around whom speculation has swirled since 2001 regarding a possible switch in parties . He must be kidding, right?

To be sure, Bush’s ratings have seen better days, and he faces big political challenges in the coming months. But if things are as dire as Coomarasamy tries to present them, you have to wonder why he goes about telling it to us in such a misrepresented way.


Anonymous tired & excitable said...

JC is handy shorthand. In my household, we also use I-ASS, as in Ignorant Arrogant Smug and Stupid, as in "just another Briddish I-ASS."

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Re: the filibustering of judges issue

Yes, the Democrats tried many times to say convincingly that they were acting on "tradition" of the filibuster. Yes, there's a filibuster tradition, but not on judges. When one came back with that, the Democrats acted like they were wondering what the difference was. In the past, judicial nominations had been held back or scuttled altogether via. the Judicial Committee's refusal to refer judicial nominations to a floor vote. So their argument was "the minority has blocked judicial nominations in the past". The difference was in every case, this was in an environment where the people running the committees were in the same party as the party that was in the majority in congress. That's the rule in congress, in fact. Committee chairmen are always affiliated with the majority party in their legislative body (House or Senate). So yes, there have been many instances where presidential nominations have been blocked by a technical minority (in terms of the number of representatives involved in blocking it), but this "minority" was in fact affiliated with the majority party in congress.

In this case, it was truly a rare instance where the minority party attempted to scuttle a president's judicial nominations. The real tradition was that no matter which party held the presidency, once the Judicial Committee referred the nomination to the legislative body, there was floor debate, there was cloture, and then there was a floor vote on the nominee(s). The Democrats chose to forget about that last part.

10:31 AM  

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