In one of his usual remarkably crafted and thought-out pieces, Blumenthal writes today for The Guardian:
In his second inaugural address, George Bush four times summoned the image of fire – “a day of fire”, “we have lit a fire”, “fire in the minds of men”, and “untamed fire”. Over the course of the first year of his second term, all four of the ancient Greek elements have wreaked havoc: the fire of war, the air and water of Hurricane Katrina, the earth ravaged by whirlwinds raging from Iraq to Florida, from Louisiana to Washington. Through obsession or obliviousness, rigidity or laziness, Bush got himself singed, tossed about, engulfed, and nearly buried. …
Blumenthal catalogues the “havoc”:
- “his unprecedented intervention in the case of Terry Schiavo”
- “… Bush’s plan to privatise social security was moribund”
- “He languished over his long summer vacation besieged by Cindy Sheehan”
- Then there was Katrina, Brownie, and the Harriet Miers nomination
And, finally, writes Blumenthal
Since the election of the Shia slate that will hold power for four years, dedicated to an Islamic state allied with Iran, the president and his advisers have fallen eerily silent. As his annus horribilis draws to a close, Bush appears to have expended the turning points. Welcome to victory.
is any of it enough? Will people remember? If so, what will they remember? (Katrina may linger longest in the collective memory.)
Blumenthal does not mention the latest, the NSA spy scandal. But, in his piece, “The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade,” Peter Daou argues that not even a “federal crime” (Jonathan Turley) by the president will be his undoing:
The third button on the Daou Report’s navigation bar links to the U.S. Constitution, a Constitution many Americans believe is on life support – if not already dead. The cause of its demise is the corrosive interplay between the Bush administration, a bevy of blind apologists, a politically apathetic public, a well-oiled rightwing message machine, lapdog reporters, and a disorganized opposition. … continued below
The domestic spying case perfectly illuminates the workings of that system. And the unfolding of this story augurs poorly for those who expect it to yield different results from other administration scandals.
Daou offers up the usual arc of such a “scandal” — bloggers ranting, lots of news stories, etc. — with the last being:
10. The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his ‘resolve’ and toughness. Congressional hearings might revive the issue momentarily, and bloggers will hammer away at it, but the initial hype is all the Democratic leadership and the media can muster, and anyway, it’s never as juicy the second time around…
Then, Daou concludes:
It’s a battle of attrition that Bush and his team have mastered. Short of a major Dem initiative to alter the cycle, to throw a wrench into the system, to go after the media institutionally, this cycle will continue for the foreseeable future.
What it all boils down to, from my small window on the world, is that Democrats must win back the House and/or Senate in ’06 and definitely by ’08. Without control of those branches of government, Bush will just stumble on through problem after problem, failure after failure, but unsinged in the end.