Friday, January 21, 2005

Fireworks in Washington, despair around the world

Fireworks in Washington, despair around the world
The Bush administration is in denial about its disastrous failure in Iraq
Robin Cook
Friday January 21, 2005
The Guardian
Inauguration does not do justice to the exuberant celebrations of this week. Coronation would come closer. Washington ended yesterday with nine official balls. The night before George Bush gave a new spin to the phrase moveable feast by fitting in three separate banquets. He then expended as much ordnance in peppering the sky over the Capitol with fireworks as would get his occupation forces in Iraq through a whole 24 hours.
The contrasts between this uninhibited triumphalism and the real world are as wide as the American continent. One visible contrast was provided by the demonstrators camping out on the streets to protest at such extravagant waste by an administration waging its own jihad on programmes against poverty on the grounds that the federal budget cannot afford welfare. Yesterday, Bush gave a new spin on welfare cuts by presenting them as progress to an ownership society. The thousands of wealthy donors to the campaign to re-elect the president who turned up at those dinners adore this concept of an ownership society in which they get hefty tax cuts paid for by the poor who get their budgets cuts.
Then there is the sharp contrast between the self-indulgent hubris of the festivity and the fragile political victory which it celebrated. Bush was re-elected by the smallest margin in 100 years of those presidents who won a second term. His approval ratings this week are the lowest ever plumbed by any president at the date of his inauguration. But among the balls, banquets and bangs there was not a hint of the humility that would be the essential starting point for a process of healing the deep political division of his nation. The message of the jubilations could not be clearer. He won another four years and was going to enjoy them, while the other side lost and was going to have to put up with it....