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 As November Approaches 

April 11, 2006 
President Bush has brought character back to the White House. And how. He is so inner-directed that he doesn’t care what the polls say.

Good thing, too. Today's column is "As November Approaches" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.The latest Washington Post–ABC News poll says 60 per cent of respondents give him a negative rating, while 38 per cent think he’s doing a darn good job. That’s real character. Always let your conscience be your guide.

With November coming, not all Republicans are quite so carried away by the imperatives of conscience. The ones in Congress, facing the off-year elections, would like to get more than just the Jiminy Cricket vote.

The good news for Bush, such as it is, is that so far only 33 per cent actually want him impeached — a number even smaller than his base. Take heart, ye Republicans! Here is a winning theme for this fall: “Let’s not impeach President Bush!”

Bush has protected his base with a vengeance. Now his base is about all he has left — the patriots who still insist he was right to attack Iraq and, in some cases, would be glad to see him nuke Iran and even Mecca. One such patriot recently wrote to me (in terms I hope his mother didn’t teach him) accusing me of ignoring the documents “proving” that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama “Bin Laudin.”

It’s always gratifying to hear from a Bush supporter who realizes that Saddam and Osama aren’t the same person, but I doubt that this year’s elections will be decided by these documents. Bush and his base are doing their utmost to deliver the broad middle, who reelected Bush and the GOP in 2004, to the Democrats in 2006 and 2008. And maybe beyond.

Anything can happen in politics, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bush becomes the new Herbert Hoover — another conscientious Republican president whose name became a lasting synonym for disaster. Hoover didn’t actually cause the Great Depression, but he might as well have. His memory ensured Democratic hegemony for more than half a century, until Ronald Reagan exorcised it (largely by playing a sunny FDR to Jimmy Carter’s inept Hoover).

[Breaker quote for 
As November Approaches: Bush's base]Bush asked to be judged by his conduct of the War on Terror, and he is getting his wish. If he has made an unholy mess of that war, and wants to keep doing it in Iran, the public (minus 38 per cent) has lost faith in his competence, and this applies to other matters too, such as immigration reform. Even Republicans are asking what kind of “conservative” would spend money and expand Federal powers and programs to the tune of trillions of dollars as he has.

If his party isn’t ruined, it’s not his fault. The most diabolical Democrat — and the Democrats are nothing if not diabolical — couldn’t have dreamed up an opponent so destructive to their foes. Bill Clinton held his own, but he didn’t weaken the Republicans permanently. It has taken Bush to achieve the reversal of the Republican Revolution.

Not that he did it alone. He had the eager assistance of his conservative courtiers in the media — the ones who always rail against “the media,” thinking this doesn’t include themselves. They shouldn’t be so modest. They have served their country well, albeit inadvertently, by cheering Bush on as, drunk with power, he did everything he could to discredit the GOP.

So apart from the tremendous material damage this administration has done, Bush’s little helpers have made conservative mean, to the average voter, reckless lunacy.

But even Bush has felt constrained to dismiss, as “wild speculation,” Seymour Hersh’s report in The New Yorker that he is preparing for an attack on Iran, and that even a nuclear attack isn’t “off the table.” Maybe Bush is telling the truth, but he should be asking himself why people find the story so plausible.

Seymour Hersh is a truly great and courageous reporter, who has broken important stories from My Lai to Abu Ghraib. Hersh isn’t known for making up his facts. Bush is. Hersh has made his name exposing things men in power try to hide in the cupboard. A generation after he exposed the My Lai massacre, men in power still try to deny or discredit his discoveries.

One thing is clear enough: Hersh doesn’t get his scoops from the White House.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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