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Hullabaloo


Sunday, September 14, 2008

 
The Tiberius Gambit

by digby

I received an interesting comment today from a reader:

A lot of ink was spilled just a few weeks ago about the deep divides in the Democratic Party (strategic where they weren't fabrications and less noticeable, methinks, post-Palin, despite the GOP's "Hillary Voter" bullshit.) and yet there is almost no notice taken of the very real internal war going on within the Republican Party.

I do not believe there has ever been a more direct repudiation of an incumbent two-term president by the nominee of his own party than the one John McCain administered to George Bush in his convention speech. Ironically, despite a few pro forma attempts to lay the blame on "both parties," McCain was at his most specific in an otherwise vague and rambling speech when he cataloged the many ills that Republican rule has inflicted on the nation. How can this unprecedented attempt to focus the blame on his predecessor pass with so little reflection? Why is there no reporting, or even speculation, about George Bush's private response to this brutal public sleight?

I believe the reasons are primarily three-fold. One, since the media must have instantly known that McCain's claim to be an agent of change, given his lockstep, pro-Bush voting record and the structure of his campaign staff, was so flimsy you couldn't wipe your ass with it, they've just ignored any political or policy split with Bush since they know it doesn't really exist. Two, the Palin distraction has so far been such an all-purpose black hole, sucking down any vestige of substance from her election, that no one has time for Bush anymore - he's so Old GOP. Three, for once George Bush has decided to get even, rather than get mad.

Which brings me to my central point. McCain may still be grateful for the fact that the Bush- flunky Rove disciples he has running his campaign have rescued it from oblivion and brought him within striking distance of the prize he's sold his soul for, but I doubt he'll feel the same way after the election. Because win or lose, make no mistake about it, brand McCain has been destroyed. And therein we see the long arm of George Bush and the hand of Karl Rove. It may well be that a scorched earth campaign was his only shot, but consider how every attack and every lie, while they serve to smear Obama, also serve to undermine he credibility, honor and self-image of John McCain. I can hear George cackling as Karl explained how cool it would be: We might just pull out a win for the folks who own the country, but at the same time we totally fuck over McCain by getting him to destroy the only thing he really had going for him.

And how does the notoriously short-tempered McCain really feel about the fact that he had to crawl to the religious extremists now vying with the neo-cons for control of the party and employ the very Bushies who smeared him eight years ago and are now using him as a tool to do the same to Obama? I don't think it's much of a stretch to assume that these two petulant narcissists absolutely hate and despise each other. And who is writing about the devastating effects these personal and political wars may have on our future? From where I'm sitting, it looks like Bush has gotten the best of it - and as a bonus he gets to say F.U. to the country as well by using his slime machine to ensure his dreadful policies will be continued.

It can be useful to look at what happened to he succession of power once ancient Rome made the transition from republic to empire under Julius Caesar. I think of it as the Tiberius Gambit. Each emperor did his best to ensure that the one who followed him could never rival his achievements. And it was a short step indeed for Tiberius to inflict he egregious Caligula on the empire, secure in the knowledge that he would make the populace yearn for the comparatively golden days of his own rule. So Augustus gave us Tiberius, Tiberius gave us Caligula and the accidental Claudius gave us Nero. Nero almost destroyed the Roman economy by his personal greed and burned part of Rome intending, perhaps, to remove the blight of a quarter congested with the urban poor. When it got way out of hand and he began to feel universal public opprobrium, he blamed it on a fringe group of alien terrorists, the early Christians.

So Bush would give us McCain and McCain would give us Palin and Palin will ignite the fire and fiddle while the planet burns. The joke is on us. Hail!

sleon
Cambridge, MA


I have always felt that Karl and Junior's primary consideration in anything at this point is rehabilitating the Bush legacy. It is what all failed presidents do and this one is very very failed. Being conservatives (and Bush being essentially lazy) rather than starting a Habitat For Humanity or embracing a useful cause, this would be the likely way they would do it.

I don't think Rove had ever thought McCain could win this. (Not very many people did...) Sure, they'd give it the old college try, but I suspect their plan all along was to lay the groundwork for a Bush reputation comeback.

Oddly, it's the left's revulsion for Palin that is already ushering in this new era of Bush appreciation. Here's Steve Clemons, in a post which asks if Sarah Palin reads books:

No matter where one may sit on the political spectrum and whether one believes or not that George W. Bush served his nation and our system of checks and balances and civil society well, the notion that he is entirely anti-intellectual and that his only pals were baseball franchise owners and oil men is contrived mystique.

Underneath the fake rough veneer made flamboyantly rougher with his less frequent brush clearing sojourns in the hot August heat in Crawford, Texas -- George W. Bush is an incredibly well read national leader.

To be clear, I don't think Bush's deeds have made the nation safer or more prosperous -- but I go into great detail here to establish a benchmark for knowledge about America's and mankind's great challenges, a point of comparison for anyone who aspires to the highest office in the land.

Bush ranks low on many contemporary rankings comparing the success of presidencies. He has been called anti-intellectual and incurious by many. I don't buy it -- but he serves well as a model that conservatives would be willing to consider as a standard for the presidency.


I'm sorry. I just don't believe that Bush actually read any of those books. Rove created a myth around his being a "great wartime leader" and put some books in his hands and gave him some talking points. He is not an intellectual, it shows in everything he does, the way he speaks, the decisions he makes, the people he trusts.

He is a failed president partially because he never had any control over his own government due to his natural ineptitude and lack of intelligence, whether "book learnin'" or native. And we knew this going in. He had six years experience as a figure head of a state that is run by the Lieutenant Governor Prior to that he'd been a front man for the New York Texas Rangers and a failed business man at everything else. The only difference between Bush and Palin is that Bush comes from a powerful family, went to ivy league schools as a rich legacy student and traded on his famous father's name his whole life, which makes him marginally more believable as president because of the example of idiot heirs in royal dynasties. They are both anti-intellectual dolts.

These Republicans are installing successively more absurd people in the presidency and Sleon's reasoning makes as much sense as anything I've heard. If these people actually are the best this country can come up with we've gone far beyond ancient Rome and are in the realm of Alice in Wonderland.


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