The Daily Brew

Friday, January 24, 2003:

Crunch Time
© January 24, 2002
The Daily Brew

Next week should provide the decisive moment that determines whether Bush can reverse a political tide that has clearly turned against him. On Monday, UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix will submit his report on Iraq to the UN security council. On Tuesday, Bush will give his State of the Union address.

Blix' public comments have clearly telegraphed the likely contents of his report. It will say that while Iraq has been less than completely forthcoming, as of yet, no "smoking gun" has been found proving the existence of an active weapons program. Blix' report will further make the case that despite this current lack of evidence, the weapons inspections are making headway. Blix will almost certainly call for their continuation. Immediately following the Blix report, the various members of the security council, including many of our NATO allies, will undoubtedly repeat their prior statements calling for a delay in any plans for war.

Following right on the heels of the report and the pronouncements by the rest of the world that it objects to Bush's war, Bush will be compelled to make his case. Bush will be forced to make his case not only to increasingly skeptical American voters, but also to an overwhelmingly skeptical world opinion. Bush's success or failure will determine whether the United States will have the support of the UN, the UN security council, many of our NATO allies, and the American people when Bush attacks Iraq this March. Perhaps never before has so much been riding on a single speech. Quite possibly, Bush's entire presidency will turn on this speech. He will almost certainly blow it.

Despite the best efforts of the corporate media who stand to profit mightily from the conflict, Bush's falling poll numbers stand as a stunning indictment that more and more Americans aren't buying Bush's rational for war. The spectacle of UN inspectors freely searching an entire country makes the administration's claim that Iraq poses a dangerous and immediate threat to the American public comical at best. Only the most stupid have failed to reach the obvious conclusion that no third world country decimated by twenty years of nearly continuous war and ten years of UN sanctions, and so humiliated that inspectors are picking through Saddam's underwear drawer at the presidential palace, represents any real threat to anyone, except perhaps its own citizens. None of this will be lost on the millions of Americans whose brothers, sons, cousins and uncles Bush plans to offer as cannon fodder for urban combat in Baghdad. Bush's last hurrah may fool the foolish, but they are quickly becoming the minority of American popular opinion.

Nor is Bush's speech likely to succeed in boosting his support on the domestic front. The major economic initiative Bush is set to unveil is a plan to eliminate the taxation of dividends. Unfortunately, no matter what numbers the Bush administration deceptively bandies about for the "average taxpayer," even the most ignorant of US citizens know how much income they received in dividends on corporate stock. It will be a small percentage of Tuesday's audience who will perceive the Bush tax cut as targeted towards them. Combined with the specter of the Dow Jones industrial average sinking below the psychologically important 8,000 level, Bush's proposed bromides for the economy will accelerate, rather than slow, his sinking popularity on domestic issues.

Thus, the coming week promises to be the beginning of the end of the Bush administration. Readers of the Daily Brew who were enraged when the Supreme Court installed Bush against the wishes of the voters, and then appalled when Bush's popularity was buoyed by the still uninvestigated 9/11 tragedy, will finally get to watch as a solid majority of the country comes to the same conclusion they had three years ago. Bush is not up to the job. Never has been, never will be. Enjoy the week

Common Sense // 11:40 PM

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