The Myth of Republican Competence
Joshua Mocah Marshall wrote recently for the Washington Monthly an article entitled Confidence Men about how the Republicans bluster their way through situations which they aren't prepared to handle or in which reality interferes with their plans:
This unfamiliarity and heightened expectation, matched with the trappings of competence, gave potency to what has turned out to be the Bush administration's signature political tactic: the confidence game. The confidence man is a stock figure in American culture, originating--perhaps not coincidentally--in the boomtowns of the Old Southwest. He's the snake-oil salesman, the wildcat land speculator who mixes boundless optimism with quick talk, bluff, and bluster. The administration is led by such men.and
Bush was supremely confident and appropriately indifferent to complexities that might have distracted a more thoughtful, but less resolute, individual. But mostly, what the Bushies call "leadership" is just a confidence game. And over time, that kind of leadership will get its butt kicked by reality every time.
There's no better example than the Bush administration's bungling in the Middle East. The White House considered the Clintonites fools for expending political capital on intractable issues like the peace process, opting instead for a cold-eyed disengagement. It seemed shrewd--until the West Bank exploded and scrambled the administration's plans for invading Iraq, something the new team apparently hadn't figured on.
What's struck me is the complete inability of the Bush administration to adapt to changing circumstances.
They came into office with a big budget surplus and jammed through a top-heavy tax cut (just ahead of projections that the surplus was vanishing). Now we're sunk in a deficit with billions in unanticipated expenditures, but don't expect the Bushies to acknowledge that things have changed.
They came into office with deposing Saddam Hussein as their main foreign policy goal, and it still is. The fact that we're now at war with international fundamentalist Islamic terrorists who still retain the ability to strike at us, that Israel and the Palestinians are essentially at war, and that North Korea may get the bomb any month now won't dissuade them. No way, no how. They'll just keep pushing us towards Baghdad while ignoring everything else that's become more important.
They may be CEO's, but they're shitty CEO's. People haven't seemed to have figured out that the Bushies are incompetent They remind me of the Detroit CEO's who kept churning out gas-guzzling crap while we started buying Toyotas and Hondas or the dot-com shysters who burned through investors' money while praying that a bigger fool would come along to bail them out. They may be CEO's, but they're sure as hell not Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. They're much more Ken Lay or Roger Smith.
Someone please tell these idiots that as circumstances change, your actions should adapt to the changes. You don't keep plugging along your predetermined path when it's leading into a sinkhole, or when a fire rages out of control along it. You change fucking paths. If the driver won't change paths, of course, you can always change drivers.