The Spectacle Blog
Dave -- Good reporting on the press conference. One note: In the year before the one in which the highway bill was passed, Bush had set the target even lower: $256 billion. So he moved the target not twice, but thrice. Now, as for Bush bragging that he has a "stable" administration: That's precisely part of the problem, on two levels. First, in the meaning of "stable" that he intended, the problem is that the administration is so stable that it has calcified. There's no new blood, no fresh ideas, nobody to break the insularity, because they all seem to live in a hermetically sealed environment. If Maxwell Smart's "cone of silence" actually worked, the administration would be inside of it right now, hearing only its own words in an echo chamber. Which is why so much has gone wrong, even from a president whose basic instincts on most things (spending obviously aside, because his instincts on that front just stink) are conservative. That's what brings up the other meaning of stable, which is a place where horses are kept. Well, sometimes a stable needs to be aired out.
Bush says he hasn't vetoed a bill because "they met the benchmarks we set."
That's false by any common sense understanding of truth.
The back story of the highway bill is that the White House moved the goalposts. It set a benchmark for the highway bill at $270 billion. When it was clear Congress would overspend that, the White House moved the benchmark to $284 billion. Bush said he would veto any bill exceeding that cost. The highway bill exceeded even that higher spending ceiling, and President Bush signed it anyway.
"I'm spending it on the war." Has it cost Bush elsewhere? He says he just listed 12 points on his agenda. "Social Security -- it didn't get done. You'll notice it wasn't on the list." He seems mostly to blame Congress.
The war on terror, Patriot Act, tort reform, Supreme Court justices, slight cuts in discretionary spending, and the energy bill.
Would Bush benefit from staff changes? "I'm satisfied with the people I've surrounded myself with. We're a remarkably stable administration."
This is an ingenious strategy: let the kooks spout.
Well said, Jed. Counteracting op-eds like these is starting to feel like a chore. But it does bear mention that the fashionable characterization of the "feminine" attitude in politics deploys a stereotype that used to be its own worst nightmare. Those female talents of compromise, caring, and nurturing sound terribly like the inscriptions we once etched at a woman's feet, back when we put her on a pedestal.
The fatal irony is that the female sexual ethos pushed by the anti-partriarchy is as uncompromising and unmotherly as you can get. Those hip values of feminine politics turn out to be garbage where social justice is concerned. Suddenly, femininity is defined by a radical independence and radical sexuality that destroys the ability of any girl to become the sort of nurturer Ruth Marcus desires. Instead, she gets woman-children with broken sex and broken families -- for whom restraint and introspection become incomprehensible, and only self-doubt remains.
We'll have it for you here at 10 a.m. EST this morning.