Thursday, October 13, 2005

Third Basemen
Many thanks yet again to Tom Herbst for keeping the flame lit while I was away. He'll be back. I'm back myself, from a brief working vacation to the Lake Michigan side of Wisconsin. If it doesn't look like autumn where you are yet, fear not, for the season is on its way. The fall colors in Door County are as magnificent as ever.

I was able to keep up on the news from my lakeside vantage point somewhat, and have been quite amused by the kids-before-Christmas anticipation of various bloggers over the pending indictments in the Valerie Plame case. The biggest gift under the tree would be if Dick Cheney were mentioned. I'd settle for his inclusion as an "unindicted co-conspirator"--if only so we could hear that phrase a few thousand times in the next year or two, remembering how it was the stake through the heart of Richard Nixon a generation ago.

Several bigtime blogs mentioned it while I was gone, but I don't know if you caught it: Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News is guessing that Cheney's absence this summer has little to do with his fabled "undisclosed location," and much more to do either with his health, or that he's tired of playing chaperone to Junior and is letting Bush be president all by himself. Which would explain "Brownie, you're doing a great job," and Harriet Miers.

We are not the first country in history to be led by someone demonstrably too dim for the job. To read the history of medieval Europe, to take just one example, is to read a history plagued by leaders whose power vastly exceeded their capability to exercise it well. Our supposedly democratic, supposedly classless society was designed so it would not suffer the same fate, plagued by brainless aristocrats who rise to power by virtue of birth. Except now, it clearly is. A friend sent along a column by journalism professor Robert Jensen, originally published at Counterpunch, in which he suggests that Bush's biggest problem isn't what he believes in his heart, but who he is as a son of the privileged class.
In our president all we see is an extreme version of a more general problem in an affluent but highly unequal society, in which people on the top have convinced themselves they are special and therefore deserve their positions. . . .

That’s probably the most pressing race problem in the United States today -- a de facto affirmative-action program for mediocre middle- and upper-class white men that places a lot of undeserving people in positions of power, where their delusions of grandeur can have profound implications for others.
It's not just Bush, of course. Legislatures from the U.S. House and Senate on down are full of people who were, as Ann Richards once said of Daddy Bush, were born on third base and think they hit a triple. More than a few of them would have trouble figuring out which end of the bat to swing, if the playing field were truly level.

More Recommended Reading: Salon's interview with Russ Feingold from earlier this week. It's mostly about an exit strategy for Iraq, but also contains Feingold's explanation of why he voted for John Roberts. Was Roberts the best we were likely to get from a president like Bush, who is constitutionally entitled to his pick, even if it's from a galaxy of loons? (My phrase, not Feingold's.) Feingold thinks so, although to his credit, he also admits he could be wrong. Also, over at The American Prospect, Jack Hitt makes a proposal: Democrats in the Senate shouldn't fight the Miers nomination, they should just stay home, and let her be comfirmed 55-0 with 45 abstentions. While I agree with Hitt that such a vote would have powerful symbolic value, I'm not sure how valuable it would be in the long run. Who really remembers that Clarence Thomas was approved 52-47? And what difference does that make, really?

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