Rum Run From Office
News travels slower in the country than in the city, and when post-election day is as sodden as it was yesterday in these parts, then there’s no gossip to be passed on street corners and nobody braving flood conditions to venture to the diner. But we had the radio on first thing in the morning to learn that the Democrats had won back the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s mid-term elections and looked good to win back the Senate too, we had picked up the daily paper, and we had gone online to see the shock headline of Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation only days after Bush had vowed to keep him as Defense Secretary through the end of his Presidential term. Wonderful though it would have been to have taken Rumsfeld’s departure then as news that Bush was keeping to his word and would also be resigning, we instead drew on the analogy of the football manager whose job is never less secure than when given the chairman’s full public backing.
Driving over to Woodstock at lunchtime, we had WAMC accompanying us and were able to enjoy, in real time, the sound of President Bush squirming, ducking and diving at a press conference in which he tried hard, but ultimately failed, to avoid laying blame for the mid-term drubbings at his own feet, for his own policies, and particularly with regard to his pig-headed policy in Iraq. Unfortunately, President Bush has an incredibly frustrating habit of saying the right things and then going about the exact opposite, and so I can not take seriously what the NY Times calls in its banner headline as his “pledge to work with a Democratic Majority.”
What I can take seriously is the prospect of two years in which the lesser evil of the two American political parties can reign in Bush’s imperial power, can bring attention to issues that really matter (e.g. climate change), and can enforce a sufficient shift in our Iraq policy so as to figure out an ‘exit strategy’ that does not simply leave the country in the midst of a civil war. To this end, the appointment of Robert M. Gates as the new Defense Secretary is to prove crucial. George W. Bush, a man who believes that to admit an error is to admit to mortal weakness, has finally blinked. And the rest of the world, at least those who are similarly pig-headed as our President, may finally believe that Americans remain capable of voting with their eyes open. Peace.