Considering President Bush's past actions, the hubbub over calls from a gaggle of former generals for the ouster of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld-not to mention the Los Angeles Times' opinion that Vice President Dick Cheney should go-is kind of ridiculous.
Of course Rumseld and Cheney should be shown the way out the door. But they're not going anywhere. So let's save our breath.
Remember, Bush is the guy who pinned medals on the chests of Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer and retired Gen. Tommy Franks in December 2004, by which time more than half of the 2,390 American servicemen and women who've been killed in Iraq had already died-and by which time it was clear to many Americans that the occupation of Iraq had been completely bungled.
Bush has undying loyalty to Cheney and Rumsfeld, who are essentially the two guys who engineered the president's disastrous foreign policy from the start. The fact that Bush refuses to boot Rumsfeld, which he should have done in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, means Cheney's the one who's really running the show. Cheney and Rumsfeld have been cohorts since the Nixon administration.
Bush's response to the enormous political pressure exerted by his plummeting public-approval ratings was to get rid of his chief of staff, his budget director and his spokesman-and to reassign Karl Rove. That shows how serious he is about meaningful change and real accountability. So let's stop calling for action that's never going to happen and instead put our time and energy into helping the Democrats gain control of one or both houses of Congress (the Dems ain't perfect by a long shot, but they're our only hope). That way we can wrest control of congressional committees and get to the bottom of what's really been going on in the White House and the Pentagon-and perhaps stop Cheney and Rumsfeld from attacking Iran and killing tens of thousands more innocent people.
Shames on you, George
Speaking of the president, we thought it might be fun to ask Michael Shames, executive director of the San Diego-based Utility Consumers Action Network, what he thinks of Bush's plan to combat high gas prices. Here's Shames' response, point by point:
* Have the Department of Justice investigate gas price gauging: "Rather than go after the real gougers (the Big Oil companies), he is directing DOJ to work with the state attorneys general to go after retailer "gougers." Oh, come on! The combined earnings expected from ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. alone is reported to be 14 times greater than the combined first-quarter profits of technology giants Google Inc., Apple Computer Inc. and Oracle Corp! Who are the gougers? Really, George! And Californians know only too well how much time and resources it takes to do a serious "follow the money" investigation of energy companies. We are still muddling through 2000-2001 investigations of energy companies that served California. So unless Bush supplements the investigative budgets and unleashes the capable Federal Trade Commission, rather than the hapless Department of Energy, his investigation will be as effective as a little-league pitcher trying to shutout the starting lineup of the National League all-stars."
* Suspend replenishment of the Strategic Reserve: "This could be a large plum for the oil industry. What Bush may have done is to defer their requirement to put back into the Reserve the oil that they'd withdrawn from the Reserve after Katrina hit and wiped out oil supplies. By allowing them to defer the redeposit of their 2005 withdrawals at a time when oil prices are at record highs, he's giving them a huge price break. They'll resume when prices drop later this year, saving them yet more pretty pennies."
* Promote conservation: "Duh! But Americans have a legitimate fear that if they reduce their demand, oil companies will use it as an excuse to raise prices yet further. So until government proves that it is willing to serve in its well-established theoretical role as a capable referee of the marketplace, drivers will view this game as more of a professional wrestling spectacle than a truly competitive endeavor, and they'll rightly conclude that any effort they make to reduce demand will be meaningless."
* Suspend clean-air restrictions: "It doesn't really affect California and, one could argue that more dirty air in New Jersey is a redundancy and wouldn't be noticed anyhow. Still, one can't be feeling good about conceding to more asthma on the East Coast as a tradeoff for temporary price relief.
So I'm not sure what to say other than that I'd wished that Bush had just postured impotently rather than take actions that actually hinder progress."