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 November, 2006


 Examining George Bush's dwindling support

Election Forecast? No Capital Left!

Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.
President George W. Bush
November 4th, 2004

By Al Owens
Thus spake Bush, two days after he’d won reelection in 2004. He was announcing to the world that he’d been right all along and nobody could stand in the way of his vision of Bush America! Ironically, he uttered those words about political capital at a news conference in which he also claimed, “I am fully prepared to work with both Republican and Democrat leadership to advance an agenda that I think makes a big difference for the country.” In other words, he was willing to heal the wounds caused by an especially bloody presidential campaign, as long as those pesky Democrats stood in line and admitted they deserved getting horsewhipped.

Yet, just 26 days after the President’s arrogant proclamation, he must have seen there was a signpost up ahead. More Americans died in Iraq by November 30th (137), than during any single month of the war.

3 days later, on December 3rd, Bush starting using his capital. He nominated Bernie Kerik to head The Department Homeland Security. By December 10th, Kerik withdrew his nomination. It seems he’d been alleged to have engaged in a variety of legal and ethical entanglements. Later he’d plead guilty to a couple of ethics violations and he got himself fined more than 200 thousand dollars. Kerik helped Bush’s capital shrink a bit. 72 Americans died in Iraq that month.

By the following February, (58 Americans died in Iraq that month) Bush decided he’d unfurl his plan to “save” social security with something called private investment accounts. Staunch congressional supporters like Pennsylvania’s Senator Rick Santorum sprung into action with charts, and PowerPoint presentations to support a president, who’d, himself, mount a 60 day, 60 stop campaign that would eventually lead to nothing remotely resembling the stated goal. No plan to save social security ever surfaced. No wonder former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich called it, “A really dumb idea”.

35 Americans died in Iraq in March of 2005. That’s the same month Terri Schiavo died after years of being in a “permanent vegetative state”. Republicans in congress used some of their perceived capital when they subpoenaed the dying Schiavo to testify in one of their hearings. A maneuver aimed at the Florida judge who’d ruled that her feeding tube could be pulled, thusly allowing Schiavo to die. If she couldn’t be flown to Washington to testify, that judge could have been held in contempt of Congress. Schiavo was never flown to Washington, but Bush flew back early from his vacation in Texas to sign a law that would wrest control of the Schiavo case away from the Florida courts and give it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Schiavo died a few days later. Bush used his capital to pressure the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court didn’t take the bait.

August 2005. 85 Americans die in Iraq. 1,836 Americans eventually die after Hurricane Katrina. The Bush capital used? A none too hasty trip to New Orleans and another proclamation. “Brownie, you’re doing a heckava job.” To borrow, and put a riff on a well-analyzed Bush phrase, his praise was a “misOVERestimate”. Eight days after commending his FEMA director, the FEMA director resigned.

On the month Bush used his dwindling capital to nominate Harriet Miers to the US Supreme Court, 96 Americans died in Iraq. Miers withdrew her nomination in days, after facing widespread questions about her competence. Republicans asked the most questions.

Bush backed the Dubai Ports deal while facing even stiffer Republican challenges in February and March of 2006. (86 American deaths in Iraq) A company from The United Arab Emirates would have provided support for some US ports, and according to many Republicans, that just wasn’t a good expenditure of the president’s capital.

Last month, with President Bush’s capital looking more like pocket-change made another announcement. “It’s never been about staying the course.” More than 100 Americans died in Iraq. It seems the president’s political capital has approached bankruptcy!