Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Running on Empty

Even the most powerful political leader on earth can't get very far without a tankful of political capital. That tank inevitably begins to run low during the final months of a lame duck president's term. In the case of George w. Bush, it's not low, it's empty.

Shrub's Middle East farewell tour proves the point. He got up and delivered inflammatory speeches that failed to spark any reaction save for apathy. He went begging for more oil and got snubbed and shown the door.

George's failure, from day one, has been his inability to understand the essential need to understand. This is a guy who's boasted that he follows his "gut instinct" on major issues.

Gut instinct isn't necessarily bad when it's preceded by an accurate understanding and thoughtful deliberation. It works as the best alternative when you've done your homework and still haven't come up with one clear solution. It's not, however, a substitute for understanding or deliberation. Without the groundwork, gut instinct is no more than a wild-ass guess (WAG) and often something worse, a silly, wild-ass guess (SWAG).

Invading Iraq with 160,000 troops was a WAG. Deciding to occupy the country without tripling the number of boots on the ground was a SWAG. No understanding, no deliberation.

It didn't take long for important people around the world to figure out how Bush worked which is a key reason why everything he's touched - be it America's economy, its environment, Iraq, New Orleans, its influence abroad, even its military adventures - has wound up on the heap in the biffy.

Bush went to the Middle East and claimed that he can solve the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma before he leaves office in January. With what, another SWAG? This guy is either trying to scam everyone or else he's just plain delusional.

Remember when Bush confided to certain world leaders, including Canada's own Paul Martin, that he was guided by God, in effect God's instrument in the White House? That meant his decisions were divinely inspired, making him, in effect, a demi-god. And, as we all know, demi-gods don't have to understand, don't have to contemplate. All they need do is go with their divine, gut instinct.

It's a sort of hucksterism rarely seen since the days of the old medicine shows but it's one that no one's buying any longer. Bush is empty, done, finished. No one believes him any more, no one seems to feel the need to humour him either.

In critical moments past, sitting presidents have sometimes called in their predecessors for advice. Think any future president will be running up long-distance phone bills to the trained chimp in Crawford?

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