I think James Baker and Dick Cheney should take Bush out to the woods around Camp David. After 24 hours in a sweat lodge, he should be given only a loin cloth, a hunting knife and a canteen of water. Bush should then set out to track and kill a black bear, after which he should eat its still beating heart so he can absorb its spirit. He should then fly back to Washington in Marine 1. His torso still scratched from the bear’s claws, his face bloodied and steaming in the November chill, he should immediately give a press conference at which he throws the bearskin on the front row of the press corps, completely enveloping Helen Thomas, declaring, “I’m not going anywhere.”
This will send important messages to Democrats and well as to our enemies overseas, who are no doubt high-fiving as we speak.
Leaving aside that Goldberg has seemingly gone feral, this says quite a lot about what to expect from the president and his remaining supporters.
Let’s outline the president’s current situation. Bush has gleefully broken any number of laws for which he has escaped accountability only because the faintest hint of oversight would have killed off the past Republican Congress faster than sunlight to a vampire. Now, unexpectedly (no doubt Rove spun convincing yarns about a lasting majority), oversight is on its way. In spades. The question isn’t whether the president has any Watergates hiding in his closet but how many and how long before the first documents spin their way into the press. The boy president understands as well as anybody that there’s trouble coming down the pike.
This makes the administration’s Nixon fixation timely and more than a bit ironic. Cheney, Addington and the rest took from Watergate the comically misinformed idea that Nixon gave up too easily, which helps explain the veep’s remarkably thorough refusal to share information of any sort. The makeup of Cheney’s energy panels, the names of the Vice President’s staff, his daily schedule, all disappear into the black hole. But, contra Addington’s addled assertions, fighting would have done Nixon no good when he could only look forward to losing an impeachment trial. Nixon resigned because he knew that he had hemorrhaged too much support to keep himself afloat any longer.
Maybe Bush will settle for following the Dems’ lead in the hopes that he can ride out two years without anything impeachable coming to light. It might even work. But if trouble comes Bush can expect precious little from moderate Republicans who haven’t yet been booted by primary challengers or the electorate at large. For the two wooden nickels it’s worth Bush’s only support will come from the fire-breathing partisans represented by Goldberg’s paean to combative peevishness, the angry right who cannot or will not adjust to life in the minority. In comedy they say play to who’s laughing. Right now beside scattered chuckles from Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt the room sits in a cold, stony silence.