All the President’s Enablers

I’ve been watching PBS’s Newshour every weekday night since the early days of MacNeil-Lehrer, and have been especially faithful to the Friday night conversation with two pundits, one from the right, the other ostensibly from the left, though actually a mainstream centrist. Though they’ve never had anyone close to my own views, I watch because they talk instead of shouting, and it all gives a reliable look into the mind of the ruling class.

The past couple years, however, the segment often provokes shouting — from me — as I listen to the designated rightie, David Brooks, defend the varied mistakes, incompetencies, frauds, and outright crimes of the Bush years. Last night was no exception, as Brooks repeated a familiar tirade, blaming the current state of bitterly-divided partisan politics on Harry Reid and the Democrats.

As if the 8 years of the Right’s war on Clinton never happened. As if such proudly partisan legislators such as Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Dick Armey, and Trent Lott weren’t in charge of Congress for 12 years. As if the compromise- and negotiation-averse Bush didn’t flush the hopeful post-9/11 national unity down his reelection toilet.

Brooks’ complaint of the moment is that the partisan dems are pushing for a fast withdraw from Iraq, when, in the interest of bipartisan comity, they should be supporting the Iraq Study Group recommendations.

Which, of course, they did, almost unanimously, last fall when the ISG report was released. And rejected with nary a comment by Bush.

So Bush and the neo-cons bamboozle us into a war, totally botch its execution, refuse the advise of a politically neutral group of experts, label any criticisms as treason, announce that a President-At-War is constitutionally impervious to any oversight by Congress, and when the opposition party finally scrapes up enough courage to push an alternative that a majority of the American people want — they’re being overly partisan.

First the Right destroyed the national conversation, with its proliferation of radio squawk-shows and cable TV screaming pundits. Then it went after our political system, undermining the legislative process and then inflicting the worst president in history on the nation.

And now, without admitting to a single error in all that time, they blame the mess on anyone but themselves. As Paul Krugman puts it:

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.