The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Monday, October 16, 2006

One proud Poppy ... but

One proud Poppy ... but
BY THOMAS M. DEFRANK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF
Sunday, October 15th, 2006

WASHINGTON - At this month's christening of the nuclear aircraft carrier bearing his name, former President George H.W. Bush delivered a rousing endorsement of his son.

"I am very proud of our President," the elder Bush said in rain-swept ceremonies in Newport News, Va. "I support him in every single way with every fiber in my body."

Yet many of his closest former aides beg to differ.

Indeed, one of the worst-kept secrets in Bush World is the dismay, in some cases disdain, harbored by many senior aides of the former President toward the administration of his son - 41 and 43, as many call them, political shorthand that refers to their numerical places in American presidential history.

For five years, the 41s have bit their collective tongues as, they complain, the 43s ignored their counsel. But as the war in Iraq has worsened and public support for the current administration has tanked, loyalists of the elder Bush have found it impossible to suppress their disillusionment - particularly their belief that many of 43's policies are a stick in the eye of his father.

"Forty-three has now repudiated everything 41 stands for, and still he won't say a word," a key member of the elder Bush alumni said. "Personally, I think he's dying inside."

To 41 loyalists, the bill of indictment is voluminous. Some alleged 43 has betrayed his father's middle-of-the-road philosophy by governing as a divider, not the uniter he promised in the 2000 campaign. Others, like former 41 speechwriter Curt Smith, argue 43 isn't conservative enough.

"Conservatives want limited government, a balanced Middle East approach, a foreign policy that builds, not destroys, and general, not special, interest," Smith said. "Bush 41 endorsed all of the above. Bush 43 supports none."

A common refrain of the 41s is that 43's muscular approach to foreign affairs - what one derided as "cowboy diplomacy" - has estranged the U.S. from its allies and diminished its authority around the globe.

The ultimate sticking point for the old guard is Iraq. They cite the appointment of 41's close friend and former secretary of state, James Baker, to chart a new Iraq policy as belated vindication.

The 41s remain incensed, however, that Brent Scowcroft, 41's national security adviser and once a top outside adviser to this administration, has been demonized since he wrote a 2002 article opposing an Iraq invasion.

"What Brent said is now the accepted wisdom," a senior 41 hand said, "and everyone believes 41 agrees with him, though he'll never say it."

While the 41s do most of the finger-pointing, aides to the current President reject the criticism as nitpicking from out-of-touch malcontents.

They also bash the 41s for going public, charging much of the damaging material in Bob Woodward's new book, "State of Denial," was provided by 41 partisans.

"Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom," a 43 staffer said, "especially those whose information may not be as good as when they were in power."

The family-feud fault lines were on dramatic display at the carrier christening festivities, where both camps turned out in full force.

"We're all on our best behavior," a top 43 official joked.

A few moments later, however, one of 41's most prominent counselors couldn't resist.

Trading social gossip at a reception, the ex-aide noted that former Secretary of State Colin Powell was in attendance. "He should be here," the adviser noted. "We didn't fire him" - a barbed reference to Powell's departure as 43's top diplomat after four years of bureaucratic fisticuffs with Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, two frequent targets of the 41s.

"Everyone knew how Rumsfeld acts," another key 41 assistant said. "Everyone knew 43 didn't have an attention span. Everyone knew Condi [Rice] wouldn't be able to stand up to Cheney and Rumsfeld. We told them all of this, and we were told we don't know what we're doing."

Another top former 41 loyalist confided that several ex-colleagues remarked on a perceived "stature gap" between father and son as they sat on the dais.

The 41s concede their broadsides are awkward for their ex-boss, but say they're motivated by a desire to protect his legacy.

In fact, the 41s suggest a singular irony: the unpopularity of the son's administration may be rehabilitating the father's.

"By comparison, the old man looks better and better," a senior 41 hand said, with undisguised satisfaction.


http://www.nydailynews.com/front/v-pfriendly/

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