WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With his Iraq strategy mired in chaos, his inner circle besieged and a hostile Congress asserting itself, there is still one thing President George W. Bush can depend on -- his own refusal to bend.It is at the very least feckless and reckless behavior. Presidents who have stood on principle without making some pass at compromise have found themselves on the very bottom of the food chain when the time comes to assess history.
Even with fellow Republicans increasingly questioning the wisdom of his policies, he shows little sign of wavering, reflecting a single-mindedness that has become a defining trait of his presidency.
Bush's supporters call it the mark of a principled leader, while critics see it as symptomatic of a reckless worldview that mistakes intransigence for resolve.
What it means in practical terms, however, is no end in sight to political gridlock in Washington.
This intransigence is not a signal of strength, but rather a fear of being wrong. That's fine for an umpire in a meaningless baseball game, whose authority must remain unquestioned in order to be effective, but for a President dragging 300 million of his countrymen down with him, it's not just suicidal, altho there are clear overtones of suicide in this thinking.
And suicide is borne out of fear: of pain, fear of loss, fear of suffering, fear of humiliation. Just ask Cho Seung-Hui. Fear becomes anger, anger becomes stubborness, and stubborness becomes an almost religious righteousness.
This is partly a calculated strategy on Bush's part: by engaging in gridlock, he hopes to effectively kill the Federal government. The problem is, the things that trouble America will still be there when he's gone and his successor, be she Republican or Democrat, will almost instantaneously transform the shabby, dark gray landscape Bush leaves in his wake into a vibrant world of laws and rules and nuance.
One hopes. It could go either way, now that Bush has opened the door of evil and allowed the US into the Garden of Gethsemane for his betrayal of our nation and its values, a place to prepare for our sacrifice. And what a sacrifice we face, if this evil is allowed to perpetuate, even until January 20, 2009, for his successor could just as easily exploit the weaponry Bush leaves in his wake (assuming he's adult enough to give up power that day) for her own purposes, and benign tyranny is tyranny still.
I am deeply troubled by this intransigence on his part. I believe it is time we broke him, if he will not bend.
I call on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to ignore his veto and his whining threats and to simply not offer up another appropriations bill for consideration: Make sure the blame is squarely on Bush's shoulders that he will not get to run out the clock, and thus lay blame for the tragedy that is the Iraq invasion onto the next President's shoulders.
Make sure the message gets out that Bush denied funding to his own troops fighting his own war, created within his own administration and lost on his watch.
Make sure that Republicans who seek to succeed him know that the Democrats will not roll over the way the 109th Congress did. This is a preventable catastrophe, unlike September 11 or Katrina. There will be no need for subpoenae and oversight after the fact if you apply the tourniquet now.
It is only in this way that President Bush, hat in hand, will come to the table and really talk. He may not, hell, he probably won't, do it, but at least the world will know that America now speaks with one voice and it is a voice of reason and sanity.