The Bush-Malaise

Again the line of "Hamlet" comes to mind: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."

Three months after elections for a parliament that was to give Iraq a democratic government of national unity, the Shia cannot get their act together. Pressure from the U.S. ambassador to get off the dime produced denunciations of U.S. interference. That brought British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Condi Rice to Baghdad to instruct the Iraqis that Allied patience is wearing thin.

But what can the Americans and British do if the Iraqis dither and squabble? To threaten a pullout of troops hardly seems credible. That would risk a collapse of politics and the escalation of sectarian savagery into civil war, turning strategic blunder into a geostrategic debacle.

Bush and the neocons hit the tar baby when they took the Cakewalk Road. The neocons are now doing their Houdini thing. The invasion we supported was a triumph, they say, but we bear no responsibility for the foul-ups that followed. Rumsfeld did that. Now the neocons are moving on to their new class project, U.S. airstrikes on Iran.

While U.S. casualties have fallen, sectarian atrocities continue. No one seems to have an idea how we can extricate ourselves without risking a worse disaster. As for "winning," not even John McCain is still calling for more troops.

What is bleeding the Bush administration is the realization we are stuck on this bloody ground and cannot get off without risk of a calamity. Frustrated at its impotence, the nation is blaming Bush, though the nation went along enthusiastically with Bush’s war — as did many Democrats and Big Media, who are now happily piling on.

As for Bush’s democracy campaign, the big losers of last year’s Orange Revolution in Ukraine came roaring back in March’s elections. And the Bushites are now busy trying to torpedo a Hamas regime that came out of the elections the Bushites insisted the Israelis and Palestinians hold.

It is hard to see sunlight ahead. Before the year is over, the president could lose both of his most loyal allies, Silvio Berlusconi and Tony Blair. Caught in a scandal over peddling peerages to fat cats, Blair does not look like a survivor. His recent speeches about "a war for civilization" have about them the ring of farewell addresses.

In Latin America, anti-American populists could take over in Peru, Nicaragua and Mexico, joining Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. As for Bush’s Free Trade Association of the Americas, it is dead, and the Doha Round of global trade negotiations is limping toward failure.

Meanwhile, Bush’s party is ripping itself apart over immigration, a direct result of his own failure to secure the border against an invasion — pushed by a succession of Mexican regimes that have eased their social crisis by dumping their poor onto the stupid Yankees. In America, the Mexican poor cease to be a liability and become an asset, sending back $16 billion a year in remittances to keep the gang afloat and the game going in Mexico City.

Historians will one day marvel that, as their Southwest was slipping away from the United States — demographically, linguistically and culturally — Americans were fighting to keep Iraq together. Remarkable. Foreigners are invading and occupying Arizona, while Americans are fighting for Anbar province.

The U.S. economy — 4 percent growth, unemployment under 5 percent, the Dow above 11,000, NASDAQ at five-year highs — appears strong. But with gold pushing $600 an ounce and silver closing in on $12, the markets seem to be saying: Nobody’s money is as good as gold.

But the economy is not helping the president. For, while the nation blames him for Iraq, it does not credit him for the economy. Why? While the top 20 percent of wage-earners are enjoying days like the 1980s and 1990s, America’s working class is not.

Not only are their factories and jobs being exported to China and outsourced to India, they face ferocious competition from mass Third World immigration and constant corporate hiring of foreign high-tech workers.

Our savings rate is less than zero, as the Smiths borrow to keep up with the Joneses, not realizing the Joneses are up to their eyeballs in debt. Should GM collapse under its shrinking U.S. market share, the rising cost of debt service on its near-junk bonds and the weight of legacy costs — pensions and health care for retirees — the free-trade vision of the Bush Republicans could receive final repudiation.

While the president has blundered — on Katrina, Harriet Miers and the Dubai ports deal — his larger problem is that his policies do not seem, at least to his countrymen, to be working. A shuffle and new deal that changes the face cards in the White House and Cabinet deck can’t alter that.

The country needs a new vision. And what do the Democrats offer? Censure, followed by impeachment of Bush.

Say, haven’t we done that before?