Reversion To Form (Or: Showing Us The Gates)
It's been an ugly week in Washington as the Administration, exploiting the holiday period, has returned to the delusional "Stay The Course/Victory" scenario that brought on their repudiation in the mid-term election last month. Bush's undisguised preoccupation with a troop surge, and his near total regression in his annual year-end press conference yesterday demonstrates the truly fantastic depth of pathology at play.
If the first hint of political recovery following the election was the firing of Don Rumsfeld, followed by the blunt, realist assessment of the quagmire by replacement, Bob Gates, the new Defense Secretary is also a focal point in the reversion to form. With Bush ordering a troop increase before Gates has left a fingerprint at the Defense Department, Bobby is already looking more like another Colin Powell than the Rumsfeld antidote.
It's been hard to look at the political pictures this week without disgust and sadness. It's possible that the latest incarnation of "Bush Gone Wild" is strictly temporary, and that "Let's Roll" reruns will disappear quickly once the Congressional season begins.
Still, I can't look at the Gates swearing in pics without plenty of anxiety. In the shot above, marrying the camera angle to Bush's political agenda, I just keep seeing Gates with his other hand up also. I mean, It's one thing to shoot down Poppa's recommendation team, but to take hostages?
Of course, there is no zero sum game when it comes to morale. Talk about pulverizing the mental state of an organization. Besides the cost and demoralization of the war itself, Bush's latest attempt to tie down the military -- for the next thirty years, or so -- can't help but elicit some pretty long faces.
And then, regarding Gates, again, there's also the "third grade class picture" feeling here: "Now Bobby, just stay in your seat until we call on you."
Here's the worst of it, though -- and it points up my naivete when it comes to man's true capacity for depravity: Just two days ago, I thought the smirks were history.
Hopefully, it'll all turn out to be a bad hangover, but from now through the holidays, the denial punch bowl is slosh-full of kool-aid, and its back to the ever-lovin' war.
(image 1 & 2: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters. December 18, 2006. Pentagon. Via YahooNews. image 3: Mandel Ngan/AFP. December 18, 2006. Pentagon. Via YahooNews.)