Thursday, December 20, 2007

In 2007: Executive Appointees Take The Fall

This year, several prominent hires by the Bush/Cheney administration left office following prolonged media controversies. Alberto Gonzales resigned following his “memory lapses” before Congress regarding the politicization of the Justice Department. Scooter Libby saw criminal conviction (and subsequent commutation of sentence) for perjury before a grand jury in the case of Valerie Plame’s compromised identity. Paul Wolfowitz edured expulsion from the Presidency of the World Bank (for misappropriating funds through an exorbitant pay raise for his girlfriend.) And longtime boogie-man Karl Rove finally abdicated his duties as Deputy Chief of Staff and general public relations nightmare. In a year of mounting frustration over Democrats’ inability to seize upon a coherent, collective policymaking agenda, the controversies that eventually ran these men out of town became the People’s latest referendum on the executive.

If the 2006 elections could be viewed as serving notice that the GOP isn’t about to be welcomed back into the White House anytime soon, 2007 perhaps signified the point at which the public mandated that Lame Duck status be attributed to George W. Bush. By the end of the year, with voice worn hoarse for his inability to speak more loudly than his critics, the president lost even the Big Stick he famously wielded with abandon since 2001 in his previously nigh-unchecked executive powers. Where formerly any lack of Congressional support cued a return to his “Kill ‘Em All, Let the Courts Sort ‘Em Out” playbook, this year left no stones whose overturning remained necessary- everything we had come to suspect about Bush’s cronyism was declared to be true, and the squandering of private capital that began in earnest with Brownie’s “heckuva job” resulted finally in a near total loss of confidence.

Most interesting about all of the President’s political proxy battles has been that it still doesn’t quite feel like the death knell of the Beast. Who knows how much the juggernaut has left in the tank for the agenda of 2008? If there’s one thing we’ve now learned from 2007, it’s that this is one that will go to any war under-informed, short of resources, and now perhaps outmanned too.

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