When people were getting a bit ahead of themselves and becoming understandably exercised about this annoying collapse-of-the-world-economy thing, President-elect Obama felt it necessary to remind the American people that “we only have one President at a time.”
I suppose you could argue that he was correct on the technical merits. But every other analysis would suggest that we’ve run into one of those vagaries they didn’t provide for in the 25th Amendment. We really don’t have a President at the moment.
Well, we do–certainly more than we have in the last few years–but Barack Obama hasn’t been inaugurated yet, and the Constitution is demanding the moving van keep circling the block for another eight weeks. George Bush is letting the hired help do the packing and sneaking out after Laura goes to bed to do shots with the White House greenskeepers. Morning comes, he’ll get up when he gets up, and if any papers come in that need signing, toss it in a box for the new kid. I’m off the clock, folks! Unless the country asplodes, I ain’t interested, and if it does, make sure they forward my pension checks to our place in Paraguay (heh, heh!).
Everyone except John Hinderaker realizes that if George Bush weren’t term-limited, the country would have had to fire him. I suppose if John Zogby and the Gallup Organization monitored the real world, there would be no shortage of Kinko’s employees with 20% approval ratings, and they still get to come back to work day after day. But there’s a certain point where sympathy and charity come into the picture, and in any case, the laws of free market selection limit these people to the realm of photocopies and away from nation-building and hurricane relief.
But even at Kinko’s, every now and then you get one imbecile who puts his junk on the copier after hours or inserts Asian rough trade 8 x 10s into a difficult customer’s proposal for investors in his South Korean apparel brokerage, and you just have to draw the line.
In the average workplace, though, when it’s been decided that an employee has queered the patch good, he’s usually not kept around as a curiosity to see what a clockpuncher does once his future employment has been voided and what kind of damage he can do when he simply doesn’t give a shit anymore. But that’s one of the perks that our system of government guarantees its lame-duck Presidents.
By nearly every objective measure, the George Bush Presidency couldn’t have been a bigger disaster if Bush were teaching eight-year-olds Home Ec drunk with a machete.
For months, the netroots on the left have been nearly apoplectic about the kind of havoc George Bush would wreak as the sand ran from the hour glass of his empire. Given the track record of this Administration, it wasn’t entirely implausible.
Time passes differently in politics. It’s easy to forget that just four years ago, fresh from their drubbing of John Kerry, Karl Rove was leading Team Bush in a call for a “permanent Republican majority.”
Well, if you were hanging your hat on that, you can thank Bill Frist and Mother Nature for knocking that train off the rails.
The Congressional intervention with Terri Schiavo was embarrassing enough (that it gave Bo Gritz a reason to come back on the public radar was only part of it), but the moment that Senator Frist diagnosed Schiavo from a piece of video that he watched from the floor of the Senate, it was game over for the GOP. They’d officially overreached and were stunned when they drew back a bloody, quivering stump. Within eighteen months, Frist, Rick Santorum, and George Allen–all much-ballyhooed Presidential timber just months earlier–were out of work, taking righteous wing blowhards Mike DeWine, Jim Talent, and Conrad Burns with them. Over in the House, Arizona’s loudmouth buffoon J.D. Hayworth led the pink-slip brigade, followed by California’s Richard Pombo (who made Rolling Stone’s October 2006 list of America’s 10 Worst Congressmen), and future guest of the Federal Penal System, Bob Ney of Ohio, and 28 other vanquished souls.
Similary, when George Bush flew back from John McCain’s birthday party in September 2005 and lamely gazed out the plane window as New Orleans drowned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that was the beginning of the end of any thoughts of a Bush Republican Dynasty.
A train-wreck of a war that many would argue shouldn’t have been waged in the first place, ignored subpoenas, industry lobbyists charged with overseeing the departments they’ve made a career of opposing, corruption pervading his Cabinet like an STD in an island prison, and a torrent of signing statements declaring, “Awright, I hereby acknowledge you passed this here law, but, by the empowerment invested in me, fuck all y’all.” There are tens of millions of doormats in mudrooms across America that are treated with more respect than the George W. Bush Administration has afforded the Constitution.
But we’re far past the point that this man cares, and Karl Rove has moved onto FOXNews. No one really cares how many office supplies he steals as long as they don’t involve environmental or banking regulations. He’s at least done the decent thing and ordered that none of his employees pry the “O” keys off their keyboards (BTW, that was a myth: Clinton’s lame-ducks never popped the “W” keys off).
Our current President isn’t engaged in the privileges of his office in any way, aside from the aforementioned pardons and diddling with regulatory authority here and there–the latter that the incoming President can and certainly will undo with a quick stroke of his pen.
True to his much-cited initial, the second Bush Administration is going to end with a loud, sad whimper.