April 15, 2004 | Peter

Iraqi Debacle Continues

It was another bizarre performance by George W Bush when he gave one of his rare live speeches to explain what the hell was going on in Iraq and maybe even something about the 911 commission. Or that seemed to be the idea, anyway. What he actually did was read the lines off prepared notes like some primary school kid having trouble with the big words. His read, stop and stare technique is peculiar in the extreme. Some time ago I read a claim by some media type that he was getting his words through an earpiece – that would at least explain his strange stop-start delivery style.
As for the questions, he just didn’t answer some and ranted on with others. When I recall the great speeches of JFK, the competent dissembling of Nixon, or even the folksy chat of Reagan, I fear for the office of the US Presidency. Surely no one dumber than Bush Jr could ever become president?
After four years of crisis and Bush & Co’s rampant incompetence, the US will welcome John Kerry’s dullness as a soothing balm. Even if the economy goes OK, I think Bush is cactus, and he will go down in history with Millard Filmore and a few other presidential oddities, eliciting the question: ‘What was that all about?’.
And this growing mess in Iraq and upheaval in US-British-Australian intelligence/military circles is all bad news for Howard too. The Howard government has politicised the intelligence services and even the military to an unprecedented degree, and now some pigeons are coming home to roost. It was Howard who ended the supposed separation of activities between public servants and politicians, so he has to wear the problem bubbling up now. These aren’t lefty malcontents coming out of the woodwork but career soldiers and intelligence analysts. Its Howard’s own hyper-patriotism that’s biting him on the butt now.
And surely Howard wishes he’d replaced his totally inept foreign minister some time ago. Alexander Downer stumbles on like the idiot nephew that must be found a sinecure in the family business for appearances’ sake. He’s living proof that these political dynasties are a bad idea – the original talent just leaks away sooner or later, leaving the name alone to suffer more and more ignominy. I’m not a huge fan of Rudd, but it will be nice to have an adult representing Oz to the rest of the world again.
The Iraq/intelligence thing will only get worse for Howard, and all Latham has to do is mumble platitudes and watch the action. The much-vaunted Government advantage in security issues is diminishing daily, and judging from the body language (watch the eyebrows), Howard knows it.

Posted by Peter at 12:43 pm | Comments Off on Iraqi Debacle Continues |
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