Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Few 'Good Men' too Many

Trouble is brewing for yet another high-level Bush nominee. This time it's John Bolton, Bush's pick for ambassador to the United Nations. The nomination has been delayed in Senate committee amidst revelations that Bolton has essentially been caught planting a severed finger in the chili of foreign (not to mention interoffice) relations.

As usual, Bush is standing by his man. (Who would have imagined back in 1992 when Hillary Clinton made her emphatic denial that it would end up being George W. Bush who most resembles Tammy Wynette?) Speaking to a group of insurance agents on Thursday, Bush called Bolton "a good man." After all we've learned over the past several days, it's clear that the only people who are going to buy this were shopping for it in the first place.

Bush went on to say, "John's distinguished career and service to our nation demonstrates [sic] he is the right man at the right time." Should we trust the President's judgement of Bolton's character? I wonder how he has fared in the past.

How about a trip down memory lane:

  • Bush on torture enabler Alberto Gonzales, last week: "I've had this good man by my side for quite a while. When I was the governor of Texas, we worked together.... And now as the President of these United States, I'm proud to serve with Al Gonzales as our Attorney General."

  • On Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in December, 2004 after the Abu Ghraib abuses came to light: "He's doing a really fine job." And, "I know Secretary Rumsfeld's heart ... He's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow."

  • On lying, philandering Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik, in December, 2004: "His ... experience makes Bernie superbly qualified to lead the Department of Homeland Security." And in October, 2003: "Bernie, you're a good man."

  • And one for good measure—After CIA Director George Tenet's resignation in June, 2004 to "spend more time with his family": "He's done a superb job on behalf of the American people."
Jeez. Flannery O'Connor should have been so lucky.

What at first glance appears to be loyalty quickly reveals itself as mulishness. This is perfectly in keeping with a President who would rather French kiss Michael Moore than ever admit to making a mistake or having to revise a strategy. We have a huge surplus? Let's have tax cuts! The surplus has become a huge deficit? I know what might work, the same damn tax cuts! My choice for UN ambassador has a long history of physically and emotionally abusing underlings? Uh, sounds like just the kind of guy we need.

It seems that the Bush administration is always so gung-ho about Plan A because it is arrogant enough not to have bothered to come up with a Plan B. Look for Bolton to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the end of the week.
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