I must confess I am enjoying Bush’s decline. Finally the American people are waking up from their lethargy. Now that we are awake we are realizing that this Bush presidency has been a disaster on pretty much every level. The press is starting to analyze critically what this president is saying. Finally even Bush’s conservative base is waking up and discovering they put into office a man who is not the least bit fiscally conservative. In fact, he’s increased discretionary spending more than any president in recent history. As a nation we seem to have finally sobered up. Now we can see that our house has been trashed, the neighbors are pissed, the air smells bad, the roof is leaking and our charge card has been maxed out.
It’s been a long time coming. Only now is the glow of the post 9/11 commander in chief truly fading. For the first time Bush is polling at or below 50% approval ratings. Most Americans would rather elect an unnamed Democrat this year than Bush. Bush’s likely opponent John Kerry is polling six percentage points above Bush in a hypothetical election match up.
We can now pinpoint the day when the deck of cards finally fell: January 28th, 2004. This was the day that our former chief arms inspector David Kay (having spent months in Iraq searching for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist) told the Senate Armed Services Committee that our emperor had no clothes. It was one thing for a politician to criticize the president; a politician could always be portrayed as partisan. It’s another thing when Bush’s right hand man on the issue candidly admitted that he and everyone in the Bush Administration had been spectacularly wrong. The American people reacted strongly. It was as if as a nation we were all saying, “But you said there were weapons of mass destruction there! We were lied to!” Within days Bush’s poll numbers sank six to eight percent. Bush’s strong leadership on national security was shown to be so much spin and hot air. The American public is pissed.
With the blinders off we can now see lots of truths that we swept under the rug. For example, during Bush’s tenure we’ve lost (mostly for good) two and a half million jobs. We realize now that Ross Perot was right on NAFTA. The great sucking sound we hear is now our high tech jobs being outsourced in India. We are realizing that we can look forward to a future of being a nation of Wal-Mart greeters, one of the few jobs that can’t be outsourced. We realize that instead of job growth, the unemployed are playing a very large game of musical chairs. We realize from callous remarks from Bush’s own chief economic advisor that this administration holds the American worker in contempt.
In addition we’ve looked at our general ledger and it looks really bad. We went from the biggest budget surpluses in history to the largest deficits. We realize one of the primary culprits was the obscene and repeated tax breaks we lavished on our richest citizens who didn’t need them. The economy rebounds but jobs do not. The oligarchy swells in wealth; and the gap between rich and poor accelerates. Health insurance for seniors gets passed only when Republicans insist on minimal competition for the drug companies.
Meanwhile the numbers of Americans without health insurance continues to grow. Those of us who still have health insurance pay increasingly astronomical costs. The Bush Administration’s response is to try to set up Medical Savings Accounts. If only the average American has the disposable cash to put in these accounts in the first place. This is particularly hard to do when you’ve been reduced from IT Worker to Wal-Mart greeter or 7-Eleven clerk.
As Rod Serling might say: “Portrait of an Administration out of touch with reality.”
Last year I suggested Bush was a one term president. I argued that the long term trends just didn’t favor him. I am glad the American public is beginning to agree with me. Bush cannot erase two and a half million jobs before the November elections. He can’t turn Iraq into a success story. He can’t win back by November all the friends we lost internationally in our reckless pursuit of a preemptive war. He can’t turn around $530B annual deficits. And he can’t provide more citizens with health insurance by giving those who can already afford it Medical Savings Accounts.
The chickens have come home to roost. The law of karma has not been repealed. Bush will lose this election. My fondest hope is that it causes the American public to do a wholesale reevaluation of Republicans in general. People who manage this badly do not deserve to represent us. Let us hope against the odds that we not only get a Democratic president again but a Democratic congress as well.