What a Town Without Pity Can Do
Will Barney join the neocons jumping off the sinking
by Leon Hadar
of the conclusions that former US president Harry Truman reached
after spending several decades in the US capital, first as a lawmaker
and then as a vice-president who inherited the White House following
the death of president Franklin D Roosevelt, was: "If you want
to have a friend in Washington, buy a dog."
during Mr. Truman's time, in the middle of the 20th century, long
before the rise of investigative journalism, the launching of the
24/7 cable news programs and the appointment of special prosecutors
to look after crimes in high places, Washington was already known
for its brutal political arena and mean social environment.
here are not unconditional and if you're down and out, well, don't
expect the guy that only yesterday gave you the high-five to return
your e-mail, not to mention inviting you to a dinner party.
is why I hope that Karl Rove who, when this piece was written, was
still serving as President George W Bush's chief political adviser,
does have a dog. He will probably need it in the coming days and
weeks as special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald wraps up his inquiry
into the alleged disclosure of an undercover Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) officer's identity.
to a report on CNN, the investigation "has taken a toll on
White House aides," many of whom now fear that the special
counsel, Mr. Fitzgerald, "is intent on issuing indictments."
One White House adviser told CNN that "Fitzgerald's office,
although very professional, has been very aggressive in pursuing
people," adding that "these guys are bullies, and they
threaten you." And according to most political "insiders,"
Mr. Rove has become a major target for Mr. Fitzgerald's probe and
could end up being indicted by him.
last Friday, Mr. Rove, whose official title is the White House's
"deputy chief of staff for policy and special adviser,"
was forced to testify for the fourth time before the grand jury
investigating the case. It centers on whether Bush administration
officials illegally disclosed the identity of the CIA operator,
Valerie Wilson, as part of a scheme to discredit her husband, Joseph
Wilson, a critic of the way the administration had used pre-intelligence
about Iraq's weapons program to justify an invasion of that country.
Mr. Rove is indicted, he will probably resign from the White House
to fight the charges against him. If that happens, one wouldn't
be surprised if Mr. Rove, one of Washington's leading political
celebrities who has been portrayed by the media as a "Boy Genius"
and as "Bush's Brain," would suddenly be depicted in the
press as the city's chief villain.
King will be pronounced dead and his name will be wiped off from
all the important invitation lists in Washington. "Rove who?
You mean the guy who is now on trial? Oh, that Rove."
that I share any sense of pity for Mr. Rove who, after all, has
been the instigator of nasty political tricks against the rivals
of his many clients, including Mr. Bush. One recalls the "rumors"
that then-candidate John McCain had fathered "black kids"
that were spread during the 2000 Republican presidential primaries
or the bashing of Democratic presidential candidate and Vietnam
War veteran John Kerry as "unpatriotic" during the 2004
presidential race. Nevertheless, the guy has a nice family and wife
and kids to support, so I hope he doesn't get rolled over by the
American justice system which can be very expensive (for the US
taxpayer, that is).
fact, considering the rising anti-Bush climate in Washington and
around the country these days, Mr. Rove's client in the White House
may soon find out that without his "Brain" by his side
at the Oval Office, he will only be able to count on his pet dog
Barney for friendship and support.
with the latest polls indicating that only 2 per cent of African-Americans
approve of Mr. Bush's performance and at a time when even Christian
Evangelists who are angry at Mr. Bush's nomination of his personal
lawyer, Harriet Miers, as Supreme Court judge nominee are deserting
him, Barney could turn out to be one of the president's last political
it wasn't long ago – in the aftermath of 9/11; during the Shock
and Awe bombing of Baghdad and Mr. Bush's (in)famous Mission Accomplished
address; after the 2004 presidential election victory, at the time
of the January election in Iraq and the many other we-are-turning-the-corner
media events in Mesopotamia – that Mr. Bush was embraced by Republican
lawmakers and conservative intellectuals – neo and not-so-neo. He
was The Man, the Gunslinging Cowboy, hailed by them as the Victorious
War President, compared to Britain's Winston Churchill, the two
Roosevelts, Kennedy and Reagan, the historic figure who was expected
to spread Freedom across the Universe and beyond and set the process
of political realignment in American politics that would even bring
African-Americans and Hispanics into the Republican party.
not only the 98 per cent of African-Americans who have given up
on Mr. Bush, it's the fact that many of his staunchest supporters
in the Christian Right movement and among the ranks of neoconservative
foreign policy ideologues that are now abandoning him that should
worry the president.
cultural conservatives have rejected Mr. Bush's call to trust him
over the nomination of Ms. Miers to the Supreme Court. Indeed, they
don't seem to trust him at all and are bashing the White House for
choosing a "crony" and an "unqualified" nominee for the highest
judicial office in the US (as though Condoleezza Rice who was appointed
as Secretary of State wasn't a crony and unqualified for the position
of America's Top Diplomat).
the neocons that were once upon a time united as a powerful intellectual
force behind Mr. Bush are starting to split like an amoebae. Not
unlike the old socialists they are being divided into many sub-sects,
each with its own little think tank, foreign policy magazine and
new brand-name. They have all become the neo-neo-cons.
of these neo-neo-cons is Francis Fukuyama who, since 1991, has been
calling on Washington to finish the job in Iraq and oust Saddam
Hussein from office. Now that Mr. Bush has done just that, and things
don't look so great in the Broader Middle East, Mr. Fukuyama and
other neo-neo-cons are explaining that the mess in Iraq that resulted
from the US-led regime change there should be blamed on the "incompetence"
of the Pentagon, the lack of effective presidential "leadership,"
a bungled process of "nation building" and a failure to
use "public diplomacy" and "get the message across."
the Iraq script Fukuyama and the other neocons had written was great
and was bound to win an Oscar if it wasn't for the amateurish directors
and the inept producer in the White House. So they are looking now
for new producers to implement their National Greatness and American
Hegemony scripts. Is John McCain or Rudy Giuliani available for
the job? Someone needs a new sugar daddy.
perhaps all the criticisms and cries about policy and principles
mask the efforts by Republicans and neocons to prepare for the post-Bush
era. Is it possible that both the Evangelical Christian activists
and the architects of the War in Iraq are reading the public opinion
polls – in which Mr. Bush continues to slip to the bottom as the
American people become more and more critical of his handling of
Iraq and Hurricane Katrina – and are more and more dismayed over
the cronyism and corruption in his administration?
have all those who were regarded as allies and friends of Mr. Bush
decided that they don't want to tie their political fortunes to
a failed presidency? Sorry of this sounds a bit harsh and cynical.
But this is Washington. Where is the dog whistle? "Barney,
Barney, where are you?"
Hadar [send him mail] is
Washington correspondent for the Business
Times of Singapore and the author of the forthcoming Sandstorm:
Policy Failure in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan).
© 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted
with permission of the author.