All Bush is saying, is give war a chance

All you need to know about George W. Bush's recent State of the Union address is that after making the central point of his speech a plea to balky senators to give his escalation of the war in Iraq "a chance," the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted the very next day to pass a resolution calling his plan "not in the national interest."

And that many of the Republicans voting against the Senate measure said they, too, had reservations about the escalation.

By the end of the week, Bush's somewhat pathetic plea was all but forgotten, drowned out in the headlines by some 3,000 boisterous anti-war demonstrators here in Seattle and what organizers claimed were a half-million congregating within view of the White House.

Next week, our area will see another major anti-war event as the court-martial of Army Lt. Ehren Watada, the first officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, takes place at nearby Fort Lewis.

A diminished presence

The overwhelming sense of this year's State of the Union was that Bush has become not irrelevant exactly, but diminished - far more so than his lame-duck status alone would suggest.

Except for the wary respect for the executive power he still wields, nobody would take Dubya seriously any longer. Nobody.

Not Sen. John McCain, not Vice President Dick Cheney, not his wife Laura, not his dog Barney.

Bush has lost all credibility with the public, and once that's gone for a politician, there's no recovering it.

Those Republicans not directly working for Bush are distancing themselves from him as fast as they can.

Democrats, meanwhile - the same tepid bunch who almost all meekly went along with Bush's misadventures for years - have declared open season on the president.

Looking down the

Nobody really cared what Bush said last week.

Nobody cared about the various pieces of his domestic agenda invoked to distract us from his failures.

The assembled spectators were polite enough not to openly laugh when Bush, in discussing Iraq, repeatedly cited 9/11 (again) or conflated Sunni al-Qaeda and Shiite Hezbollah with the all-purpose "terrorist" tag.

What Bush said didn't matter because he's lied so many times that nobody is willing to give his words - let alone his war - yet another chance.

The only reason he matters now is because of his actions, actions mostly facing the staunch opposition of a majority of Congress and a super-majority of Americans, including most Seattleites.

In that vein, it's hard to avoid the conclusion, based simply on media coverage and public buzz, that Americans would just as soon fast-forward through the next two years.

It was telling that in the run-up to Bush's speech, the previous media week was spent not speculating on his words, but lavishing attention and coverage on the presidential campaign announcements of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Much of the public seems more than ready for Barack, Hillary or anyone else to be our president.

With approval ratings in the sewer, the consensus seems to be, Bush has had his chances on the war and on everything else. Give someone else a chance. Please. Now.

It's not going to happen, of course. Bush will be president for two more long years, barring the completely unforeseen.

What, practically, can be done to stop the Bush cabal from escalating the current wars and starting new ones? Nonbinding resolutions won't do it.

The only true power Congress has, short of impeachment, is to cut funding for Bush's wars. Nothing less will do it.

Facing political suicide

The next two years will in all likelihood be a rolling Constitutional crisis: the White House refusing Congressional subpoenas, and Congress cut out from any influence over Bush's foreign policy.

At present, there aren't the votes to cut funding, and the Beltway consensus is that using the power of the purse to demand that the current escalation be stopped - an escalation that, depending on the poll, somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of Americans oppose - is somehow "political suicide."

It wouldn't be, of course; it would be hugely popular, as well as essential evidence that Democrats are not just saying the right things, but are now willing to use their new power to act forcefully.

But they won't do it on their own. It will take more than a few thousand marching through the Central Area (and smaller rallies in other Puget Sound cities) to get the attention of our Congressional delegation. It will take letters, calls, visits and many, many more people in the streets

For any legislators who will see it, the cautionary tale stood before them last week: After four years of botching Iraq, that is what political suicide looks like. George W. Bush has exhausted his chances.

As ducks go, he is more dead than lame. What is left is to find a way to keep his body from destructively twitching.

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