Magazine article The New Yorker

HELL WEEK; COMMENT Series: 1/5

Magazine article The New Yorker

HELL WEEK; COMMENT Series: 1/5

Article excerpt

Last Monday, at the very start of George W. Bush's week of misery, Thomas M. DeFrank, the Washington bureau chief of the Daily News, published a story that portrayed the President as frustrated and enraged, a "peevish and melancholy" tenant of the Oval Office lashing out at everyone around him for the calamities of the recent past and the ones sure to follow. No one, not even the most loyal satrap, was safe from Bush's rages--not his close adviser Karl Rove, or Vice-President Dick Cheney, or Andrew Card, the chief of staff. "The only person escaping blame," one source explained, "is the President himself."

Naturally. A prominent feature of the last Presidential debates was Bush's refusal to own up to a single mistake. Self-searching is still not a part of his political or personal repertory. And yet the Administration's misery index has soared along with the price of gas. His ill-conceived Social Security reform bill is effectively dead; the insurgency in Iraq has undermined every moment of progress there and keeps alive the memory of all the wasted opportunities and arrogant decisions of the postwar period; and a hundred trips to the Gulf Coast will not erase the images, and the human cost, of Presidential fecklessness in the first days of Hurricane Katrina. As if by magic, Party regulars were suddenly decrying the emptiness at the core of things. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, publicly unloaded (three years too late) on the Bush Administration for "cowboyism" in its foreign policy, for the duplicitous marshalling and manipulation of intelligence to sell the invasion of Iraq, and, because the President is "not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them, either," a chilling dependency on the "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal." Then, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in these pages, Brent Scowcroft, the national-security adviser under George H. W. Bush, described one architect of the war, Paul Wolfowitz, as a utopian fantasist, and another, his old colleague Cheney, as changed beyond recognition.

As Hell Week commenced in earnest, the military announced the two-thousandth U.S. combat death in Iraq (more than eighteen hundred since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished"). Harriet Miers, who had declared the President the most brilliant man she had ever met, leaped loyally onto the trash heap of history as she recast her humiliation as a stalwart defense of executive privilege. And, on Friday afternoon, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald stolidly laid out a five-count indictment of "Cheney's Cheney," the Vice-President's chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, for making false statements to an F.B.I. agent, perjury before a grand jury, and obstruction of justice.

As the diminishment of Bush's political power has become plain, as his poll numbers have shrivelled, his Democratic detractors could be forgiven a moment of thinking, At last! Bush had been unmasked in all his insularity, hubris, and executive incompetence. While Fitzgerald described the utterly brazen way that Libby had constructed his lies about leaking Valerie Wilson's identity to the press, it was hard to forget the even more brazen way that Libby, Cheney, and the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans constructed lies and exaggerations about the state of Saddam Hussein's arsenal and his "links" to Al Qaeda. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.