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President Bush, Confidence Man

April 21, 2007

With the exploding scandals at the Justice Department and the World Bank enveloping his administration, President Bush voiced "full confidence" in Alberto Gonzales and Paul Wolfowitz this week. But as history has shown, there is no more certain confirmation of the criminality, ethical-wrong doing or imminent departure of a Bush team player than the President's expression of confidence in him.
By that standard, the prospects are not bright for Attorney General Gonzales and World Bank president Wolfowitz. On April 19, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino announced the Bush kiss of death to each. In the wake of Gonzales' disastrous appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the U.S. attorneys scandal, Perino declared, "As I've said many times, the President has full confidence in the Attorney General." President Bush similarly stood by his man following the Attorney General's calamitous March 13 press conference, proclaiming "I do have confidence in Attorney General Al Gonzales."
World Bank head and Bush Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz also received the President's reverse Midas touch this week in the wake of revelations he arranged for promotions and high-priced consulting gigs for his girlfriend. On Thursday, Perino held the line, "As we've said before, the President has confidence in Paul Wolfowitz." Just three days earlier, she similarly stated that "the President does have full confidence in Paul Wolfowitz."
As former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld can attest, however, such expressions of support can accompany a knife in the back from this President. Despite calls in April 2006 from six retired generals that he sack Rumsfeld, President Bush emphatically voiced his support, "I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld." (Bush also famously added that "I'm the decider, and I decide what is best.") In the run-up to November's mid-term elections, President Bush offered strong support for the embattled defense chief in the face of criticism from worried Republicans. Just days before Americans went to the polls, Bush praised the "fantastic" job Rumsfeld was doing, and said of his work in Iraq, "I'm pleased with the progress we're making." As it turned out, President Bush was lying, and replaced Rumsfeld for the "fresh perspective" of Robert Gates literally the day after the Republican mid-term fiasco.
When it comes to stirring rhetorical support, President Bush is an equal opportunity employer, offering protection and air cover to the criminal, the unethical, the ineffectual and incompetent alike. Of the indicted House Majority leader, Bush said in March 2005, "I have confidence in Tom DeLay's leadership, and I have confidence in Tom DeLay." As rumors of Karl Rove's involvement swirled during Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the President offered "Turd Blossom" his protection. In June 2005, Bush said that "He adheres to the ethical rules of our government and he's done a great job on behalf of the American people," reiterating in August that "Karl's got my complete confidence. He's a valuable member of my team."
The list goes on and on, with the President vouching for the good character of his friends and allies even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In the spring of 2006, President Bush voiced support for Treasury Secretary John Snow, even as he was actively looking for his replacement. Residents of New Orleans, of course, will never forget his post-Katrina praise for now ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown, "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job." Of his disastrous Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, Bush said, "I know her heart." Bush reassured Americans about Russian born-again autocrat Vladimir Putin, "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul." The President similarly lauded his aborted choice to head Homeland Security, Bernard Kerik. Of Kerik, now facing likely prison time for tax fraud and ties to mob figures, Bush crowed "He has demonstrated a deep commitment to justice, a heart for the innocent, and a record of great success." (Just two weeks later, Bush said regretfully, "I was disappointed that the nomination of Bernard Kerik didn't go forward...I think he would have done a fine job as the secretary of homeland security.")
So as the death spiral continues for the public careers of Paul Wolfowitz and Alberto Gonzales, expect more expressions of confidence from President Bush. As the record shows, if President Bush proclaims them ethically beyond reproach, they almost surely are not. And if he tepidly claims he is committed to keeping them on, they are as good as gone.

3 comments on “President Bush, Confidence Man”

  1. I have full confidence in Prezident Bush. He is a valued team PLAYER. He will probly recieve beatification from the Pope, very soon. Yes, the Last Pope declared that if Bush attacked Iraq under the circumstances present at that time, then Bush would be a criminal. And sho 'nuf, Prezident Bush is a criminal. I call that being a team player. I have struggled with my faith since I was a child, and after hearing all the protestant protestations I was really convinced the Pope was not infallible. Well after experiencing this administration, and realizing the close ties to the protestant people, I sorta feel that maybe there was a reason for the Spanish Inquisition. Now that the last Pope said he was sorry for that, I wish they would have a Republican Inquisition. Even though I don't go to church anymore, I think that frying a few Repubs might be good penance for the Catholic Church. I might even join back up with em. If anyone takes offense at this idea, I will claim I don't remember this. If its good enough for the AG of the USA, its good enough for me. Isn't it? What?

  2. The would be king has the shit touch...always has, always will...everything he touches turns to shit. Always has, always will. What a criminal shame he and his family are...


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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