We’re in for it, all right. You have to admire George W. Bush, or at least his management team. They were the only people in the nation who knew that what the American people really wanted was the threat of a war with China.
So they have done their level best to give it to us. Now you might not realize the sheer insanity of it from the polished and polite house columnists of the mainstream newspapers, who are always duty-bound to act as if whatever insanity the current occupant of the White House exhibits is within the accepted bounds of normalcy.
This has always been the case, by the way; go back and look at what the Restons and Lippmanns and Alsops were writing during the early phases of Vietnam.
Now let’s look at what really happened this month. We were spying on China with a sophisticated intelligence-gathering plane. Whether it was flying just outside their borders or within them is a matter of dispute, but in any event, it was a near thing.
We then bumped into one of their fighter planes that was sent up to see what the hell we were doing. The Chinese plane crashed in the ocean, evidently killing the pilot; ours was damaged, and so it had to land on Hainan, a Chinese island.
The Chinese asked us to apologize. Now I am no fan of the repressive Chinese regime, which brutally murdered hundreds if not thousands of their idealistic young people at Tiananmen Square. But this time I thought China was totally reasonable.
Think about this: What if a Chinese spy plane were flying a few miles off Manhattan and it crashed into one of our planes? Would you want them to apologize? Half of Congress would be howling for us to bomb Beijing. The least we can do is apologize!
But Bush and his team of recycled Cold Warriors, frustrated at the absence of a big, bad old Brezhnev-era Soviet Union to play chicken with, stood firm. Hell, no, we weren’t going to apologize! Why should we? We be Team USA.
And by the way, the Bushies added, they better not get any ideas about inspecting the plane we were using to spy on them. So what if it landed on their territory?
What makes this faux macho behavior especially bizarre is that the Chinese ended up with 24 Americans, hostages in all but name. What were the Shrub’s twigs thinking?
Essentially, thoughts from the last millennium. When Bush was finally installed as the president-select, even some of the majority of Americans who opposed him felt that at least we would have a sound foreign policy, given that he was surrounded by men — Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell — with considerable experience at it.
Trouble was, like all old generals, they were fully prepared for an outdated war.
Oddly enough, both Bush and Clinton failed early tests in the arenas where we expected most from them. Clinton, who was elected as a domestic-policy president, made such a complete and utter mess of health care reform it appears to have been set back decades.
And now we have Bush Minor, whose father was once the China expert in the government. Boy George has taken an unnecessary and dangerous game of chicken so far that officials are seriously discussing the possibility of a war between (for starters) Taiwan and mainland China. Now that would take our minds off Monica, for sure.
Frankly, few journalists have really covered the first glorious weeks of the Bush restoration, in part because the giant turd Clinton blotted out the sun for most of that time.
But he’s finally in eclipse, at least for the moment, and it is time to take a quick look at what Shrub and the Bushies have been up to in a couple key areas:
Your interests and theirs: According to the neutral and nonpartisan Associated Press last Saturday, “President Bush has been taking care of big business in the opening weeks of his term, dismantling policies of his Democratic predecessor at a rate that thrills his financial backers in corporate America.”
Major achievements: Canceling new workplace-safety rules designed to reduce repetitive-motion injuries and rolling back a policy cracking down on federal contractors who violate labor or fraud laws. Bush also wants to scrap new energy-efficiency standards for appliances and dump rules designed to keep arsenic out of your drinking water.
Our environment: Matter of fact, make that a double arsenic on the rocks.
Bush had been in office less than two months before he broke a campaign promise and said he would, after all, not regulate how much carbon dioxide power plants spew.
Never mind that all agree the gas is a major contributor to global warming.
Regulating it would lead, the Shrub sayeth, to “significantly higher electricity rates.”
Better, indeed, to use the oxygen up as fast as possible.
Incidentally, the United States negotiated and signed a treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, that committed us and 37 other industrialized countries to making major cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. Guess there won’t be much pressure on the evenly divided U.S. Senate to ratify that baby anytime soon, eh? Cheer up, though. We’ve lived through barely 5 percent of the first term, and as they say, assuredly the best is yet to come.
Just asking: Since Bush Two took office, our Navy has sunk a fishing boat from a Japanese school and our Air Force has smashed into a Chinese plane. Don’t you worry a little bit about what the newly proud Army might do for an encore?Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for the Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org