The answer is so obvious I can't believe many in the media are mystified. The 2008 election is starting a year early because the entire country is so thorougly disgusted with Bush/Cheney -- liberals and conservatives alike -- and afraid of what the Dynamic Duo might do in their remaining 1 1/2 years in office. "The worst president in history" is on many lips, and that says a lot coming from my generation whose first political memory is Watergate. "How can one president so thorougly destroy everything the US has achieved since WWII?" Well, not everything, but the amount we've retreated is stunning. It's hard to remember the US was once a founding member of the UN, pushed for the establishment of international law, etc.
The reason everything Bush does turns into a controversy -- from his about-face on the Hamilton-Baker commission to the troop surge to the firing of nine federal prosecutors -- is that few people trust the administration. Bush/Cheney have been so secretive and power-grabbing (viz. executive privilege), and refusing to admit mistakes, and continuing to tell lies even when the public knows they're lies, that people have lost their trust. If the people trusted the president, none of these recent controversies would be a big deal. Bush nominated Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, even though she had no credentials, just his "feeling" that she would do a good job. "Trust me." The Senate refused, and now it turns out they were really correct: Miers was directly involved in the purge of federal prosecutors, just as she earlier fired a Texas contract lottery director so Governor Bush could award a no-bid contract (sound familiar?) to GTech, to keep quiet a certain GTech lobbyist who knew Bush had lied during his 1994 gubernatorial campaign about using family connections to keep out of Vietnam. This also gets into the bizarre downfall of Dan Rather and how all of this is reported outside the US but not inside, but I don't want to digress too far.
Anyway, as Machiavelli would say, "The Prince is weak and vulnerable." The reason Iraq remains the issue for the public even when politicians try to downplay it, is, as my friend Bob puts it best:
I tell people that Bush is really Anti-American. The Bush White House is essentially urinating on the faces of men who have the character and courage to fight and die for their country--while he, himself, is essentially nothing more than a profiteering coward, along with his Vice President. Basically the war in Iraq is a gross and disgusting abuse of power by the Executive Branch of our government. I think Congress knows that but won't impeach W Bush for fear of what we'd end up with if Deferment Dick then were to become President...
As Orwell says (and Bob keeps quoting), "The purpose of war is to keep it going." I don't believe everybody in power is motivated by this, or even most people. But Cheney's former employer benefits directly from the war, and Bush's family has close ties to the Saudis. The media keeps forgetting this conflict of interest. In any other situation it would be scrutinized closely, not by Michael Moore but by the Justice Department. Oops, Bush just fired a bunch of federal prosecutors for investigating Republicans too closely, hmm. No wonder he wanted loyal Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court. My mom, who voted Republican her entire life until 2000, says, "The reason Bush wants to appoint Supreme Court members is so he can stack the court so they won't send him to prison when he gets out of office." I laughed the first time I heard that three years ago, but Bush has done nothing since then to disprove it.
The reason to hold Bush/Cheney accountable for all this is not for retribution. It's to send a message to future presidents that honesty, openness, and putting the nation above personal interests are important. That secrecy and funny deals will not be tolerated. Currently there are so many individuals and corporations looking out only for themselves. No wonder, when they're following the president's example.
What scares me most was hearing one pollster say that even though Bush has a 30% approval rating among Americans, his approval among Republicans is 70%. Still. I can't believe this is accurate, and I've only heard it from one source. But if so, I worry about the next four years. So many Americans think being patriotic means putting a "Support the Troops" bumper sticker on their SUV while shopping at the mall, listening to Fox News, and building 5000 square foot mansions. If they really wanted to be patriotic and support the troops, they'd buy a smaller car and move closer to work. Small car, less gas, lower oil prices, less money for terrorists, get it? In the 40s patriotism meant victory gardens and rubber collections, not shopping. And certainly not building a kitchen as big as a tennis court.
Sluggo is Mike Orr, a helluva friendly guy in Seattle. Email me if you have feedback.