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Forget, if you can, the sad fact that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is an incompetent political hack.
And forget, if possible, the equally sad fact that President George W. Bush – Gonzales’ boss and patron – is a lackluster leader who has lost the faith of the American people and the confidence of even his own party.
Put that aside because in a political world where perception is reality and illusion rules the roost, Bush and Gonzales still win.
Bush is a stubborn man. That is an irrefutable fact that both friends and foes accept as gospel. When he is pushed, he pushes back. Like any political animal he is most dangerous when cornered.
The Democratic opposition in Congress, however, is about as stalwart and brave as a lemming on the run. When Bush pushes them, they giveâ€¦and then give some more. Oh sure, they talk a good game but when push comes to shove they back down.
Bush, for all his failings, is not stupid when it comes to street rules in a political fight and he senses weakness in the Democratic Congress. They can posture all they want but – in the end – they lack the courage or the unity to make the hard decisions.
Bush will win the battle over funding for his dirty little war in Iraq. He will veto the bill which sets a timetable and Democrats don’t have the votes to override. He will get his money and American troops will still be dying in Iraq when he leaves office on January 20, 2009.
Bush doesn’t care what the American people think or want. He will do whatever he wants because, in his mind, he has absolute authority to do so. It doesn’t matter that, as President, he fails to carry out the will of the voters.
But the Democrats fail as well. They swept into power in 2006 on a promise to change the way things are done in Congress. Like most political promises, the winds of change died when the polls closed.
Sure, the Democrats talk a lot. They posture even more. They hold hearings and press conferences and town meetings but still fail to deliver when it counts. Bush knows this. The Democrats don’t have the guts to impeach him or even force his hand on Iraq. He holds all the cards and any good gambler knows you can’t win when you bet against the house.
The same is true for Gonzales and his future as attorney general. He may be the most unqualified occupant of the office in history, which is saying something when you follow John Ashcroft in the job, but he is the President’s man and Bush has decided that his man will stayâ€¦no matter what.
A lot of Bush’s appointees have left office in scandal but none have left because of Congressional pressure. Some ran afoul of the law and others left because the President had no more use for them.
Yet the architects of Bush’s incredible march to power and control remain: Karl Rove still calls the political shots, Dick Cheney still delivers a war machine and Alberto Gonzales continues to dismantle the Constitution.
All the Democrats can do is whine, bitch and moan – and they do a great job of all three. It’s good, I suppose, that they can at least be good at something.