Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Lots to talk about, very little time. I'll be brief.

Ashcroft/Gonzales

This is actually a pretty frightening development. Many people seem understandably relieved that Ashcroft is gone. But Ashcroft was his own man, and had a certain crazy right-wing vampire logic to his approach to law enforcement. Gonzales' strength is that he's a Bush loyalist; thus his appointment suggests that his main duties are going to be 1) quashing investigations into Republican criminality and 2) using the power of the federal government to investigate Bush's enemies.

Bottom line, with Ashcroft you had ideology without competence. With Gonzales, you have competence without conscience. The first has dangers mostly due to omission (Ashcroft's terrorist conviction count - 0), the second is actively malevolent.

Powell/Rice

Moderate Democrats LOVE Powell, which was why he was used to sell them the shit on a shingle that is the Iraq war. The fact that moderate Dems STILL love Powell even after he played the key role - THE key role - in convincing moderate Democrats to support an invasion that was so crucially stupid tells you something about your average moderate Democrat. Namely that he is a professional doormat (and that he can be sold shit on a shingle). But back to Powell/Rice.

Of all the many, many pieces of evidence that have emerged to support the idea that this White House has completely fallen into the right-wing void, the fact that Colin Powell has become known as a "moderate" or even "dovish" member of the Bush administration foreign policy team is probably the clearest.

The "Powell Doctrine," which this administration dismissed out of hand as far too mincing and lily-livered for their purposes, states that when the United States identifies a threat to its national interest (the question of the definition of that term we leave to the side) from a small, poor country, it should saddle up a posse of several other powerful nations, gain the blessing of the Security Council (historically, a trivial matter), and strike that country with such overwhelming force that resistance is impossible.

That principle, which was first articulated by Grand Moff Tarkin a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, is the dovish position of pantywaist Colin Powell, the heresy for which he was essentially ejected from any serious participation in foreign policy strategy meetings. He's being replaced by Condoleeza Rice, whose standing in the world, where she has any at all, is primarily as an object of ridicule for her disastrous performance (almost universally regarded as such in every country but this one) in the 9/11 Commission hearings, after refusing for months to testify under oath.

The Rice appointment smacks of a common Bush MO - appointing someone terrible for a job that Bush wants done badly. The Rice appointment is, above all, an indication that the Bush administration wants the State Department to do as much as possible to alienate other nations and isolate the United States internationally so that diplomacy is completely impossible, leaving military force, as Bush revealingly put it in an interview with U.S. News and World Report in 2003, "our first resort and our last resort." Bush believes, probably correctly, that heightened international tensions, particularly between the U.S. and Europe, are good for him politically.

The Rice appointment is probably the worst Bush has made in his presidency, perhaps trailing the Goss appointment very slightly. It is hard to imagine what of the traditional machinery of the State Department will remain after Rice is through turning it into the PR arm of the Bush war machine.

Hadley/Rice

The only thing really bad about this appointment is the audacity of it. Most people have forgotten this by now (including 100% of reporters who have written stories about this appointment) but Hadley was the guy who finally came forward and took responsibility for clearing the Bush speech that had the bogus claim about Saddam seeking uranium from Africa.

So a guy whose main claim to fame is propagating bogus intelligence in support of an illegal invasion is now the National Security Advisor. Sadly, he will probably by a much more competent NSA than Rice.

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