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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The fall of the house of Bush

    Justyn Dillingham columnist
    Justyn Dillingham
    columnist

    With the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez on Monday, it’s no longer possible to deny that the Bush administration has reached the point of no return.

    The crisis of the administration has reached the point where one clichǸ no longer suffices to describe the magnitude of its dismalness. Not only are the rats deserting the sinking ship, but the sharks are circling the wreck and the captain is not dealing with a full deck. Not since the administration of Warren G. Harding has there been a White House this pummeled by unrelenting scandal in its dying days.

    In two days, Karl Rove, Bush’s right-hand man since the beginning of his campaign, will make his resignation official. A political boss of the most menacing kind, Rove was credited by many with all but creating Bush’s career.

    Looking back on the history of the Bush administration since its moment of triumph in Iraq, it’s clear that the seeds of the current crisis were present even then.

    The first major player to leave the Bush White House was its official voice, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, in July 2003. It was only a harbinger of the bloodbath to come.

    Right after the November 2004 elections, Bush lost his unhappy secretary of state, Colin Powell, and his ruthless first attorney general, John Ashcroft. Ashcroft apparently resigned for health reasons; presumably his efforts to promote the Patriot Act and other domestic intrusions into citizens’ private lives had exhausted him.

    Powell was another story entirely. A man of essentially good intentions, he had been dragged further and further into his president’s disastrous policies. Only a few months ago Powell revealed that he had spent two and a half hours trying to persuade Bush not to invade Iraq.

    Powell had a powerful political ancestor – William Jennings Bryan, who resigned his post as secretary of state in protest against the policies of President Woodrow Wilson, whom he believed was dragging the nation into war. Historians have remembered Bryan’s act as an honorable one; if Powell had resigned on the eve of the war instead of defending it before the U.N., we might have looked more kindly on him.

    Still, he is the only figure in this miserable story who seems at all honorable, even tragic.

    Next to go was Paul Wolfowitz, the neocon intellectual whose radical vision proved invaluable to the president in seeking more sophisticated justifications for the Iraq war. He resigned in March 2005 from his position as Deputy Secretary of Defense.

    According to Bob Woodward’s “”Bush at War,”” Wolfowitz and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were vocal in their calls for war on Iraq at the first National Security Council meeting on Sept. 11, 2001. When Powell and others objected, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld began holding secret meetings to plan the war.

    The next insider to drop wasn’t close to Bush, but he proved to be as big an embarrassment as anyone. Lewis “”Scooter”” Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, proved to be chest-deep in the Valerie Plame scandal. As the scandal screamed out one headline after another, Cheney’s own influence was said to be waning in the Oval Office.

    After his party got pummeled in last November’s elections, Bush threw a major concession: He allowed Rumsfeld to resign (or ordered him to, depending on how much faith you have in Bush’s political savvy). Shortly afterward, Harriet Miers, Bush’s underqualified choice for White House council, was forced to give up her nomination.

    Finally, there was Gonzalez. One can only imagine the president’s fury as the attorney general, a close ally from his Texas days, was beset by his enemies. In the last days, according to The Associated Press, Gonzalez had become an embarrassment; everyone in the administration wanted the clueless bumbler out. Everyone, that is, except the president.

    President Bush has no one left to rely on (or, to borrow attorney David Schippers’ angry denunciation of Bill Clinton during the now-ancient Lewinsky scandal, “”no one left to lie to””). He will spend his last year in the White House as a virtually isolated man. His glory days, if that’s what you want to call them,
    are gone.

    Ashcroft, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Rove, Gonzalez. One day their names will be known only to history buffs and weary students desperately cramming for their Early 21st Century American History finals. But now they stand as a living testament to the follies of a president whose reign surely marks a low point in the troubled history of our republic.

    Justyn Dillingham is a senior majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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