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Family Feud - Little Bush Hits Back At Daddy

Chris Floyd | November 15, 2006

Bush Initiates Iraq Policy Review Separate From Baker Group's (Washington Post). Excerpt:

President Bush formally launched a sweeping internal review of Iraq policy yesterday, pulling together studies underway by various government agencies, according to U.S. officials. The initiative... parallels the effort by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to salvage U.S. policy in Iraq, develop an exit strategy and protect long-term U.S. interests in the region...The White House's decision changes the dynamics of what happens next to U.S. policy deliberations. The administration will have its own working document as well as recommendations from an independent bipartisan commission to consider as it struggles to prevent further deterioration in Iraq.
When I saw the Newsweek cover featuring Big Daddy Bush muscling toward the front with a diminished little Dubya skulking in the background, my first thought was: How is Junior going to react to this? Bush II's resentment toward his father is well-known -- a resentment no doubt compounded by his lifelong, abject dependence on Daddy's financial and political pull -- and I knew that Little Bush would not simply accept this media humiliation and move on.

Because for all his vaunted (and totally mendacious) "unconcern" with opinion polls and popularity ("Ah just do whut muh gut tells me is right"), Little Bush is actually one of the most vain and insecure men ever to sit in the White House; only Nixon can match him in this regard. Why else would he need to have his authority bolstered in such ludicrous ways -- such as all those little "Commander-in-Chief" and "President of the United States" tags embossed onto his fancy quasi-military jackets and his running gear and belt-buckles and boots -- and probably his toilet paper as well? At every turn, he feels the anxious need to remind others, and himself, that he really is the president, he's the decider, he's the commander: "See, it says so right here on muh jacket!" (Meanwhile, the exaggerated swagger he affects -- a labored caricature of stereotypical masculinity -- bespeaks other sorts of insecurities prowling in the presidential psyche, but we won't go into that here.)

Bush has also taken every opportunity during his tenure to diminish, downplay or even belittle his father's personal influence and political record. He evinces far more personal animosity toward his father than, say, Bill Clinton, his supposed political bête noire. Thus the Newsweek cover was probably a greater humiliation for Bush than the election results themselves. Indeed, the latter only confirmed his contempt for the American people, as he made clear in his post-election press conference with his casual put-down of voters: "I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security." The not-so-subtle implication here is that the American people were too stupid to understand how good they've got it under his glorious reign.

Little Bush's suddenly conceived internal Iraq policy review is just another salvo in this ongoing struggle. The Cheney militarists will certainly not give up without a fight, even after the "Gray Hawk Down" disaster of Rumsfeld's resignation. Bush Junior will certainly not keep swallowing Daddy's cod liver oil without throwing a fit now and then. American policy will continue to drift back and forth between Junior's hyper-aggressive corporatist militarism and Daddy's slightly less aggressive corporatist militarism (which is pretty much the default "bipartisan" foreign policy of the past 60 years).

The comforting storyline that the "grownups" are stepping in to set things to right is the usual dangerous, reductive nonsense of the corporate media worldview. Daddy's men and Junior's men are all part of the same political network (or crime family, if you prefer). There may be power struggles between them over certain issues, personality conflicts, policy disagreements, but they are all ultimately working for the same mutual interest: their own aggrandizement (in various forms ­ power, honors, riches, ideological triumph, etc.).

The "war in heaven" is real, but there will be no actual losers amongst the combatants. Loss of face is the worst punishment the vanquished will endure; even if they're booted from public office, like Donald Rumsfeld, they simply return to their private world of vast personal fortunes, corporate directorships, and backroom sway. Until the political winds shift again, and they're back in the saddle once more ­ like Robert Gates, returning to office 14 years after his shadowy service for Reagan and Bush; or indeed, like Rumsfeld himself, who went a quarter of a century without official title between his Nixon-Ford tenure and his restoration by Junior Bush. The profitable, bloodsoaked game goes on, regardless of elections and internal squabbles.

Where does that leave the rest of us? Not as citizens in control of our political fate, but more like Kremlinologists, trying to discern through opaque and oblique signs what is really going on with our masters. Or like the "birds i' the cage" of King Lear's vision, prisoners who:

...hear poor rogues

Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,

Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;

And take upon us the mystery of things,

As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,

In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,

That ebb and flow by the moon.

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