Saturday, March 10, 2007

This Week in Bushworld: The Wheels Come Off

Things are going from bad to worse in the waning months of the Bush Administration. The public is increasingly unhappy over the Iraq war and the President's popularity is at historic lows, even for a second-term president.

But for Bush, last week was exceptionally unpleasant. Let's review:

Item 1: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted Tuesday of perjury. The Libby trial showed that Cheney and Bush adviser Karl Rove were obsessed with striking back at those who criticized the administration's Iraq war plans.

Item 2: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was heavily criticized for the firing of eight federal prosecutors, several of whom testified before Congress. Some told of political pressure from Republican lawmakers. The situation was dire enough that Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican, made this prediction: "One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner than later." By week's end, Gonzales began backing down, agreeing to changes in the Patriot Act demanded by Democratic lawmakers.

Item 3: The FBI admitted late this week that the agency had overstepped its authority and spied on Americans, in violation of the Patriot Act. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine presented the findings in a 126-page report, which the AP described as "damning." Criminal charges against FBI agents and lawyers may result.

Item 4: The troop buildup in Iraq—the so-called surge—continues unabated and without apparent results. The bombings continue in Baghdad, and the civilian and military casualties continue to grow. The President has requested still more troops, probably not for the last time.

There's much more to the Bush disaster, of course, including the shameful conditions for outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital. No wonder the president spent the last several days in South America.

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