W is perhaps even more divorced from reality than Willy, but he retains actual, real power. They both seemingly lost their ability to sell ice in the Arctic, but while Willy realized it on some level, W had never in fact had such a talent. W, always the cheerleader, exaggerated his contribution to the game's final score; but in fact losing the game didn't really matter very much to him.
Bush is also not becoming Hamlet any time soon. Seymour Hersh's article in this week's New Yorker evokes a tortured Prince, torn between options. I don't see this one either. In my opinion, Hersh uncharacteristically misses the character that is the man.
Marshall's post noted the lack of Bush's strident voice on Iraq in recent days. He feels that the in the last election the public has
now given Bush "the rebuke...And what is more than that he validated it, confirmed the rejection by summarily firing his Defense Secretary...With that admission out of the way, there's really no more cheer leading to be done for the whole effort."
Atrios wrote that he isn't sure Marshall is right, but speculates that Bush "might just check out."
When Bush got into office the only majority on his side were the members of the Supreme Court. Still, he claimed to have received a mandate from the voters. Bush holds democracy in far too much contempt to even recognize, let alone respect, the vote as a rebuke for his policies. Rumsfeld was not fired because Bush lost faith in him. He was merely cast aside as a sop to a country asking for change. But Bush does not intend to change.
Bush failed at selling a mythical vision of his policies. He remains the child furious at being caught with his hand in the cookie jar - but his concern is only about being caught, not about the behavior itself. He's still determined to get the cookie.
Similarly, Hersh's piece speculates that Bush's next move in the Middle East will be tempered by the chastening he received in November for his aggressive, failed foreign policy. In fact, a lot of Bush's team is eagerly preparing and plotting our next attack.
It will piece of cake. This time they'll do it right. There'll be no occupation of Iran. We will simply do that bombing, that shocking and awe-ing thing, which we do so well.
That haven for neo-cons, The American Enterprise Institute, has recently assisted at the birth of the Iran Enterprise Institute. Richard Perle, one of the most influential and strongest supporters of the war in Iraq, will undoubtedly fight so the seat next to Laura Bush (aka the Ahmad Chilabi chair) at the next State of the Union address be occupied by Iranian refugee Amir Abbas Fakhravar. (Laura Rozen expresses doubts about how well connected he really is in Iran, here.) Others present at the founding of the I.E.I include Reza Pahlavi (son of the former Shah) and the ever effervescent Michael Ledeen. One of it's supporters is Joshua Muravchik, whose piece in Foregin Affairs Hersh referred to, where he wrote that "one should make no mistake" that Bush will bomb Iran before leaving office. He also wrote an op-op-ed for the L.A. Times whose first sentence is "WE MUST bomb Iran."
Muravchik works with Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Michael Rubin, and Lynn Cheney at The American Enterprise Institute. Michael Ledeen was the first executive director of a powerful Pro-Israel lobbying group, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, on whose board of advisors Muravchick also sits. (Former board members include Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle.) Although smaller than AIPAC, JINSA is an integral part of The Israel Lobby, as written about by Mearshimer and Walt in the London Review of Books.
The outgoing Ambassador to the U.S. from Israel is confident that Bush will do it, As Amb. Ayalon told the Ma'ariv paper "From his [Bush's] standpoint, ayatollahs with a bomb is unacceptable. ..he will not hesitate to go all the way."
If this seems like a tangled web - it's because it is - and it is virtually the sidentical web which guided us into Iraq. Four of the most frequently used that Hersh and others employ to make a case that Bush will not bomb Tehran are as follows:
- He's chastened by the elections. There is no evidence that Bush has ever had an iota of respect for the electorate, or for democracy itself.
- He's learned from the debacle in Iraq. Sorry, but to Bush, there is no debacle in Iraq.
- Rice, at the State Department, is more influential with W than was Powell. This may be true, but there is no reason to believe she ever disagrees with Cheney or W in any serious way. (The Vice Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs is Elizabeth Cheney.)
- The new Sect'y of Defense Gates and James Baker will restrain him. This is the silliest of the four. Gates, after all, is the guy who wanted to bomb Nicaragua during the late '80s. He's the guy who was a millimeter away from being indicted during Iran-Contra. Furthermore, Bush has made it abundantly clear that he does not consult with his father nor his fathers friends. Remember, he consulted with a higher father when he led us into Iraq.
Tragically, Bush will bomb Iran with the next two years. After all he is merely a pawn in the hands of God, who selected him to bring democracy, and Western values, to the infidel.
Willy Loman's powerlessness meant his only option was his own suicide. Bush still is the most powerful man on earth. It's not his own suicide that worries me.
It seems that Andrew Sullivan and I are on the same page when it comes to Bush's tenuous grasp of reality.