« Margins of Victory? | Main | "Gender Roles and Technological Progress" »

Friday, July 20, 2007

Paul Krugman: All the President’s Enablers

Paul Krugman takes a look at both the passive and the active enablers of President Bush:

All the President’s Enablers, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: In a coordinated public relations offensive, the White House is using reliably friendly pundits — amazingly, they still exist — to put out the word that President Bush is as upbeat and confident as ever. It might even be true.

What I don’t understand is why we’re supposed to consider Mr. Bush’s continuing confidence a good thing.

Remember, Mr. Bush was confident six years ago when he promised to bring in Osama, dead or alive. He was confident four years ago, when he told the insurgents to bring it on. He was confident two years ago, when he told Brownie that he was doing a heckuva job.

Now Iraq is a bloody quagmire, Afghanistan is deteriorating and the Bush administration’s own National Intelligence Estimate admits, in effect, that thanks to Mr. Bush’s poor leadership America is losing the struggle with Al Qaeda. Yet Mr. Bush remains confident.

Sorry, but that’s not reassuring; it’s terrifying. It doesn’t demonstrate Mr. Bush’s strength of character; it shows that he has lost touch with reality. ...

Mr. Bush ... still has plenty of enablers — people who understand the folly of his actions, but refuse to do anything to stop him.

This week’s prime example is Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who made headlines a few weeks ago with a speech declaring that “our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests.” Mr. Lugar is a smart, sensible man. He once acted courageously..., persuading a reluctant Ronald Reagan to stop supporting Ferdinand Marcos ... after a stolen election.

Yet that political courage was nowhere in evidence when Senate Democrats tried to get a vote on a measure that would have forced a course change in Iraq... Mr. Lugar, along with several other Republicans who have expressed doubts about the war, voted against cutting off debate...

Thanks to that vote, nothing will happen until Gen. David Petraeus ... delivers his report in September. But don’t expect too much.., the general’s history suggests that he’s another smart, sensible enabler.

I don’t know why the op-ed article that General Petraeus published in The Washington Post on Sept. 26, 2004, hasn’t gotten more attention. After all, it puts to rest any notion that the general stands above politics: I don’t think it’s standard practice for serving military officers to publish opinion pieces that are strikingly helpful to an incumbent, six weeks before a national election.

In the article, General Petraeus told us that “Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously.” And those security forces were doing just fine: their leaders “are displaying courage and resilience” and “momentum has gathered in recent months.”

In other words, General Petraeus, without saying anything falsifiable, conveyed the totally misleading impression, highly convenient for his political masters, that victory was just around the corner. And the best guess has to be that he’ll do the same thing three years later.

You know, at this point I think we need to stop blaming Mr. Bush for the mess we’re in. He is what he always was, and everyone except a hard core of equally delusional loyalists knows it.

Yet Mr. Bush keeps doing damage because many people who understand how his folly is endangering the nation’s security still refuse, out of political caution and careerism, to do anything about it.

_________________________
Previous (7/16) column: Paul Krugman: The Waiting Game
Next (7/23) column: Paul Krugman: The French Connections

    Posted by on Friday, July 20, 2007 at 12:33 AM in Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (71)

    TrackBack

    TrackBack URL for this entry:
    https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b33869e200e009969aee8833

    Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Paul Krugman: All the President’s Enablers:


    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.