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N. Korea, Iraq, Foley
Anything in Common?

Now with the North Korea crisis erupting, it strikes me that there are some similarities among Bush’s crises.

In all three cases–North Korea, Iraq and Foleygate– the Republican establishment knew something was wrong but failed or declined to address the problem. And the reason for the inaction was mostly a desire to keep the public in the dark so as better to win elections.

In North Korea, Bush knew that there was a brewing problem. He was not honest with the American people about it. He needed to work with China, which asked for such cooperation. He did not. In part this is because of his dislike of negotiating even indirectly with a member of the “axis of evil.” In part it was about winning elections by posturing.

In Iraq, Bush knew that the security situation was collapsing and that his policies were failing. He needed to be honest with the American people about the growing crisis. He was not. He needed to work with Iran and Syria, among other neighbors. He did not. Again, he was paralyzed once he declared Iran “evil.” And, again, it was about winning elections by putting lipstick on the pig.

In the case of Foley, the Republican leadership in Congress knew there was a problem. They needed to be honest with the American people about it. They were not. They needed to cooperate with their Democratic colleagues in addressing these ethics lapses. They did not. They covered up the problem and went it alone. It was about winning elections. They actually cared more about Foley’s seat than they did about his excesses.

A kind of party unilateralism and disregard for the realities, along with a singleminded pursuit of victory at the ballot box (and all the wealth it can bring if properly arranged) seem at work in all three cases.