The Turning Point
The Turning Point
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By: Michael Carmichael
In a bevy of polls published in the last week, there is one over-arching trend: public support for George Bush and his neoconservative policies is now in free fall and heading downward at a high rate of knots.
Bush’s popularity peaked last year at or near the time of the election. Today, public acceptance of his policies is moving down all across the board.Led by skepticism about his plans to privatize Social Security, the American people have taken a more objective and more penetrating look at the neoconservative policies of George Bush. The verdict is now in. They do not like what they see.
According to the New York Times poll, public approval of Bush is down to a mere 42%, and it is trending lower. CBS reports a similar decline in public support for Bush, and there appears to have been a decisive down turn in recent weeks.
One factor not measured in the polls is the impact of the Downing Street Minutes. The Downing Street Minutes and new memoranda that are continuing to pour out of the British government prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Americans who supported the Iraq War were hoodwinked by the Bush White House. The most recent revelations appear in a memorandum that records details from a conference over lunch between Prime Minister Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice that took place scarcely six months after 9/11. The Prime Minister was bemused because Rice did not mention Afghanistan, Bin Laden or Al Qa’ida, but she seemed determined to affect “regime change” in Iraq. The Prime Minister’s disturbing conversation with Rice took place months before the Downing Street Minutes recorded the fact that US policy was being “fixed” around the guiding principle of war with Iraq as early as the summer of 2002, fully nine months before Bush announced his decision to launch the war to the American voting public.
In the interim, we, the American voting public, were entertained by the series of dog and pony shows that included sending Hans Blix and the UN weapons inspectors to Baghdad to scour Iraq for nonexistent WMDs. That painful farce was followed by the sad and troubling spectacle of Colin Powell attempting to scold the UN into believing that there were massive hoards of clandestine WMDs in Saddam’s Iraq. These bad movies were merely charades, and the documents that prove them to have been calculated fantasies of nightmarish proportions constitute a smoking gun that is now firing blasts of political indignation at the Bush White House.
Perhaps even more disturbing for the neoconservatives than the drastic decline in Bush’s approval rating is the fact that nearly two-thirds of the American electorate now believe that the nation is moving in the wrong direction. Crucially for Bush and his political opposition, over 50% of Americans now believe that Bush is mishandling US foreign policy. It is about time. As the Downing Street memos prove, the US public has sound reason to distrust this administration and its disastrous neoconservative foreign policy.
Neither are the American people happy about Bush’s handling of the economy. That, too, is understandable. When American voters were asked whether the economy is improving or getting worse, twice as many responded that they believe the economy is now getting worse. When Bush assumed the presidency, America had the strongest economy in its 230 year history.
The Clinton Era was the most prosperous economic boom since record keeping began. The Clinton economy was in overdrive, and the national debt was scheduled for termination in a mere five years time. Today, after four long years under Bush’s control, America’s deficits have soared beyond the wildest imaginings of anybody on earth at the time he became president. Under Bush and thanks to him and Cheney, we are now the most deeply indebted nation in world history. Sadly and, perhaps, madly, our debt is being financed by the nation that is deemed to be our most serious political, economic and strategic competitor, China.
It is probably worth remembering that Bush’s father served as America’s first Envoy to China. Richard Nixon appointed Bush, Sr. to the Chinese post, and he later became the highly paid Far East Expert for the Carlyle Group, a banking and venture capital organization that invests heavily into defense, arms and other industries that thrive on high-level contacts and heavyweight government influence.
Another crushing reality check for George Bush comes directly from Iraq. Today, less than one-third of American voters support his policy in Iraq. When asked whether things were going well or badly for the US in Iraq, 60% said, “Badly,” while only 40% said, “Well.” For Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice those statistics should be sources of deep depression. According to reports emanating from un-named sources in the White House, Bush does feel as if he has been personally abandoned by the American people specifically because of their views on his war in Iraq.
Apparently, Bush’s private feelings have been seriously hurt by the repudiation of what he deemed to be his longest lasting historical legacy. It is surely worth noting that this rejection of one of his core policies is coming less than six months into his second term. The point being that he still has a long way to go until January 2009, when he is officially scheduled to leave the White House. It should disturb him and Karl Rove that the trends are all pointing downward now, just as there are the first whispers of, “impeachment,” in the halls of Congress. If it looks a duck, and it sounds like a duck, but it is already crippled and hobbling, then what on earth is it?
In what amounted to Bush’s victory speech last year on election night, he stated that he had earned, “political capital,” and more – that he was determined to, “spend it.” Launching his second administration, Bush focused on Social Security and his grand plan to privatize pensions and thereby to eradicate FDR’s major domestic legacy, the New Deal. When the American people were asked whether they had confidence in Bush’s ability to manage Social Security, the situation should now be seen as amounting to a monumental political catastrophe for Bush. Only 27% support Bush while more than twice that amount; 61%, say they have no confidence in his vision for the reform of Social Security.
Bush envisioned the America of the future as an, “ownership society,’ which echoes the vision of the character, Gordon Gecko, from the Academy Award-winning film, Wall Street. Today, it is perfectly clear. American voters reject Bush’s vision of Gecko’s ownership society, and they repudiate it by an overwhelming margin.
A frequently overlooked statistic in these polls is the makeup of the people who participated in the survey. In the New York Times survey, fully 31% described themselves as Evangelical Christians. This fact alone is cause for alarm bells to start ringing in Karl Rove’s office for it is clear that there is deep-seated unrest even amongst the fundamentalists who have been the driving political force behind every nuance of the Bush revolution.
This past weekend, I attended the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner of Democrats Abroad. We were delighted that Professor Joseph Nye was able to join us and to deliver some astute after-dinner remarks. Professor Nye pointed out that while the trends for the policies that lie at the heart of the Bush administration are pointing downward, there are two types of events that could radically alter the political landscape overnight.
One type of event would be a major terrorist attack on American soil. In this 24esque scenario, a bomb or any other major terrorist disaster would trigger the meltdown of constitutional democracy as we have known it since 1776. Another type of disaster could be an international crisis that would alter the fundamental dynamics of the global economy, i.e. something like the, “Energy Crisis,” of the 1970s.
While either or both of those dire scenarios do appear to be likely, one fact is perfectly clear: the American people are already disillusioned with the Bush Era, and as a direct result they are now decisively turning away from his core policies. This is a turning point of immense political significance in the history of America. Opponents of Bush’s neo-conservatism are beginning to fight back, and at the same time he is being abandoned by some of his longest and most loyal supporters.
One such example is Republican NC Congressman Walter Jones, Jr., who has habitually supported the most neoconservative policies on offer, but who is now calling for an early and definitive exodus from Iraq.
From his public statements, it is now clear that Congressman Jones believes that America was a victim, because the people were lied to by the Bush White House and their coterie of fawning neoconservatives. For the past four years, we have tried to tell the Congressman and others like him, but he did not listen at the time. Now that we have all reached a turning point, there can be no looking back. You will recall what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back upon the fraudulent utopia of Sodom. She was turned into a pillar of salt. Just think on that parable, Congressman Jones. Just you think on that one. Meditate on it and face your people with a new and steely resolve never to allow them to be lied to by the radicals and the reactionaries now infesting your party. Never again.
The time clock is ticking, and Bush’s Depression is deepening. This play still has many more acts to run before its final curtain call in 2009, and the atmosphere is darkening at the velocity of night.
Bush's Support on Major Issues Tumbles in Poll
Bush's Road Gets Rougher
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