Wednesday, June 14, 2006

good news?

Peter Baker in the Post today talks about the spate of "good news"for the White House recently. Let's look at that.
In a White House that had virtually forgotten what good news looks like, the past few weeks have been refreshing. A Republican won a much-watched special congressional election.(1) President Bush recruited a Wall Street heavy hitter as Treasury secretary.(2) U.S. forces killed the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.(3) And now the architect of the Bush presidency has avoided criminal charges.(4)
(1) Yep, the GOP held Duke Cunningham's seat in San Diego. Despite the national Republican Party pouring $5 million into this special election, the GOP candidate won by an unimpressive 49%-45% margin in a heavily Republican district. Yes, it is MUCH better news than losing the seat would have been. But it's hardly an all-clear signal.

(2) Silk from a sow's ear. Why did de facto President Bush even NEED a new Treasury Secretary? Because of increasing dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and the utter lack of presence of the current Treasury chief (name him, I dare you) meant Bush really had to try hard for a big "name", which Paulson is. This was a defensive move. Not a bad one, but purely defensive, and one made out of political weakness.

(3) Killing Zarqawi IS good news. That was one guy who deserved his fate. But it happened three years after Bush declared "Mission Accomplished". It happened after over 2500 US deaths and who knows how many Iraqi deaths. It happened in a country still wracked by violence, instability, sectarian killing, and uncertainty. It happened in a country which did NOT in fact have weapons of mass destruction. Basically, killing Zarqawi in today's Iraq situation is good news, the way having your second basemen hit two home runs in game six of the world series which you lost 10-2 is good news. Good, but not the whole picture.

(4) Rove isn't indicted. Gosh, if they are celebrating the lack of criminal charges for Karl Rove as GOOD NEWS, why stop there? Every day the White House could issue a press release announcing that nobody was indicted for revealing the name of a CIA agent, or for illegal spying, or for torture, or for shoplifting, or for snorting cocaine, or for selling nuclear weapons to Quebec. Good news, guaranteed.

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