Friday, September 30, 2005

Politics, power, and money

For the past five years or so I've been trying hard to understand the motivation behind the actions of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress. Just why do the Bushies do what they do, and why do their Congressional lapdogs follow in lock-step? I pondered various motivations, from Oedipal Syndrome to power-mad "we're going to rule the world" fantasies, and nothing seemed to make sense. And as for the Congressional lapdoggedness, the only thing I could come up with was some sort of large-scale blackmail scheme involving every single member of the Congress -- Republicans and Democrats alike. But that was too farfetched, even for me; something else had to be at work.

Well, with the indictment of Tom Delay, the real motivations are now clear. The actions of the entire Bush administration are based on simple crony capitalism, albeit taken to a heretofore-unthought of extreme. It's a matter of politics being played for the purpose of power and money, nothing more insidious than that.

Here's how it works. Bush has friends (who have friends who have friends) who would like to profit a bit from their relationship to the Prez. Bush uses his power to financially reward his friends, in the form of government contracts, tax breaks, watered-down regulations, and cushy appointments. The more power he has, the more actions he can take without anyone asking any embarrassing questions. Bush's power grabbing has nothing to do with world domination or ideology; he's only grabbing power to better reward his cronies.

I think I would have been more comfortable if there was a truly evil intent behind the re-emergence of the Imperial Presidency, the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, and all of Bush's other follies. But it's not evil we're dealing with, it's simple greed. I'd wager that Bush really doesn't care that much about the whole power thing, other than for the perks that come with it. (He certainly doesn't seem to like the responsibilities that come with the power.) A strong Presidential branch is simply in a better position to get its way -- and better serve its cronies.

Examples? How about the whole Iraq war, which ultimately doesn't have much if anything to do with neo-colonialism or nation building or even oil. It's all about the contracts. Bush invades Iraq, demolishes untold number of buildings and facilities, and thus paves the way to hand out contracts to Halliburton and other cronies to rebuild what they've just destroyed. Billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives down the drain, just so a few big contractors can make a few more bucks. Disgusting.

And what keeps Congress from blowing the whistle on this nonsense? Money. This is where Tom Delay comes in. The Hammer controlled the purse strings for millions of corporate lobbying dollars, which he handed out to those Republican congressmen who went along with the game plan. If you didn't play by Delay's (and, by proxy, Bush's) rules, you not only got your funding cut off, you also found yourself on the receiving end of Karl Rove's Rotweiller-like attacks. It was a carrot and stick approach, with lobbying funds as the carrot and loss of funds (and Rove's ire) as the stick.

Looking at things, one has to wonder who was pulling whose strings. Was Delay working for the Bush administration, or was Bush put in place to be Delay's man behind the scenes? It doesn't really matter; one hand washes the other, whichever way you look at it.

This is, without question, the dirtiest bunch of politicos since the Harding administration. By the time prosecutors get to the bottom of it (and they will; the public loves a good political scandal), this will prove to be an even more flagrant abuse of power and privilege than what led to the Teapot Dome scandal in the early 1920s. The rich and the powerful have been using our country's resources to make themselves more rich and powerful; the public should be outraged.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

1 comment:

John said...

Exactly. I've been telling people for years that elections are all about the money. Spending 100 million, 200 million, or even 500 million dollars is nothing if you win. The reward is in the 100's of billions if not trillions of dollars for your clique. What's a few 100 million when the reward is so great?