Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Dog Stops Wagging

Lewis Gould offers a seering critique of this administration's 24-7 campaign strategy, which places presidential images before the real stuff of ruling. Gould pays particular attention to the media's willingenss to play along with this scheme -- feeding the nation choreographed photo-ops of the president while neglecting coverage of the White House's failure to govern.

I'm ready for my closeup

“Under the rule of George W. Bush and his outriders -- Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Andrew Card -- the disconnect between the pleasures of campaigning and the imperatives of governing has become acute,” writes Gould. “Stage-managed events, orchestrated by masters of spin, provide the appearance of a chief executive in charge of the nation's destiny” -- even as the wheels of governance are coming off the machine.

Gould concludes:

Somehow, the political system needs to restore governing to its proper place in the conduct of American government. Whether this means more one-term presidencies, a more rigorous screening process for national candidates, a more involved citizenry and a more aggressive press — or at least a press less influenced by artifice — cannot be discerned at this moment of potential disaster for the Bush administration.

But it's important to realize that the underlying issues are systemic, not to be cured by different incumbents of either party. George W. Bush's current troubles offer perhaps a final chance to mature as a nation and to understand we must ask more of our leaders than a television screen filled with reassuring images while the hard work of actual governing lapses into disuse and decay.
It took the nation five years to see through the Bush administration’s carefully constructed media fa├žade. But it appears that the combined weight of events has caught up to Karl Rove’s nimble strategy to move red-blooded Americans to act against their best interests.

More proof is in recent presidential performance polls, including a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that shows that a majority of Americans now question President Bush’s integrity and doubt his leadership abilities.

The survey underscores how the foundation upon which Bush and his minders built this presidency is giving way to the combined forces of history. Bush's approval ratings have been in decline for months, but on issues of personal trust, honesty and values, Bush has suffered some of his most notable declines. Moreover, Bush has always retained majority support on his handling of the U.S. campaign against terrorism -- until now, when 51 percent have registered disapproval.

There’s no photo-op that can wag that dog.

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