After five years of Bush Administration, I come to these conclusions:
1. The Bush team is very good at playing politics.
2. Loyalty means everything to President Bush.
3. The Bush Administration is very bad at governing.
If you take a look at the latest move by Bush in appointing Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, you will see that Bush has pitched a perfect game with his pick and it encompasses all of my conclusions about the Bush Administration.
1. The Bush team is very good at playing politics:
President Bush is in a weakened state, politically speaking. Hurricane Katrina, failure to get a Social Security bill and tax reform through Congress and the waning support for the war are all taxing Bushes poll numbers. Bush also knew that the Democrats were prepping for a fight after allowing the John Roberts nomination to fly through with nominal opposition. Bush does not have the stomach or the political capitol to fight Democrats on a known Conservative so he chose Harriet Miers.
Let me explain why she is a good political move. First, she has no paper trail. This is not a good thing for America but it is good politics. Second, what paper trail she does have is unavailable do to attorney-client privilege. So we will know less about Harriet Miers than we do about John Roberts. Another point is that Conservatives will have a fit with this pick but they will get behind the President eventually and he will lose very little support from his base. Then there is the fact that the Democrats may not like her but there is no evidence that she is a neo-con. Therefore, the Democrats have very little ammunition to oppose her.
President Bush lost nothing with selecting Ms. Miers. By the end of the week I predict that most conservatives that are riding Bush's back will be on board and ready to fight for Ms. Miers.
2. Loyalty Mean Everything to Bush:
Cronyism is a fact of life in politics. But the Bush Administration has taken it to a level not seen since the Daley Machine that ran Chicago in the 60's. Loyalist and “yes” men surround Bush and he rewards them well for their patronage. Of course, if anything ever goes wrong they are expect to play the good soldier and fall on their sword for the emperor. (See Mike Brown)
Harriet Miers was a part of the Bush team when Rove first embarked on the creation of George Bush's political career. By all accounts, she is an advocate for President Bush and has even been quoted as saying that George Bush is the most brilliant man she's ever met. I'm not sure if that speaks to her intellect, the men that she knows or her truthfulness, but it is clear that she is someone that President Bush trusts and is loyal to him. Its clear that if you need a position where your credentials don't justify having the position, then knowing President Bush is the best way of getting around the burdensome task of being qualified.
3. The Bush Administration is very bad at governing:
Having a political philosophy is one thing. Having that philosophy reflect in good sound policy is another. And time and time again the Bush Administration has shown that it cannot execute policy. The war in Iraq is a prime example of a philosophy gone astray when it is time to execute the policy. Establishing Democracy in the Middle East, ridding the world of a tyrant, building up a new Iraq that would not be a threat to its neighbors and an ally in the war on terror... it all sounds good and for the most part is a good idea. But then they had to execute their plan (which was lacking) and they flopped badly. The cost for that flop is $200 billion, the lives of almost 2000 soldiers and countless Iraqi lives.
They flopped when it came to implementing their "ownership society" and being fiscally responsible. Yeah, it sounds good to give us more control of our money when it came to Social Security, getting government out of our lives, being fiscal responsible, creating a smaller government. But now we have structural deficits the result in trillions of dollars in debt. The Social Security bill was DOA and we now have the largest increase in government spending since WWII. The Bush Administration is a failure at being fiscal conservatives... the mantra on which they hang their philosophical hats.
Harriet Miers is another example of their failure to implement policy based on their philosophy. When Bush was running for President, he used Clarence Thomas and Anthony Scalia as examples of Justices he would select for the Supreme Court. There is no evidence that Harriet Miers share the same judicial philosophy as Thomas and Scalia. She may very well turn out to be clones of those two justices, but President Bush passed over known conservatives with a lot more experience to come up with Miers. The failure here is that Republicans control every branch of government and now have the opportunity to change the balance of the Supreme Court. They have waited over 40 years for this chance and it may be another 40 years before a chance like this arise... and President Bush punted. I can understand why Conservatives are upset.
I think Bush accelerated himself to lame-duck status with this pick. He had no support on the left and eroding support on the right. Now, he has to contend with a base that will grudgingly support him for the rest of his term. It should get very interesting especially with the cloud of ethic violations hovering over Congress.
But politics being what they are, we'll have to wait about a decade or two to see what impact Bush's decisions really had on our lives. Hell, I guess if we survive this presidency without him starting a nuclear war, we should count ourselves lucky.