Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Consolidating His Reign

President Bush is exercising his newfound sense of authority after the "mandate" of this election by proposing three pieces of legislation that were hardly mentioned during the campaign: (1) tax code reform (whatever that means, though one can be sure that it will involve a further shift of the tax burden from wealth to labor), (2) social security privatization (siphoning off 2% of the 12.4% on income up to $87,000 yielding an $85 billion deficit each year and virtually guaranteeing a reduction of benefits), and (3) drilling in ANWR. In addition to his profligate spending and resolute refusal to reenact "pay-as-you-go" spending limits in Congress, he is now consolidating power in his Cabinet and at the CIA. The principle governing this process is decidedly not competence or even ideology; it is loyalty. With Alberto Gonzales at Justice, Goss at the CIA, and Rice at State, Bush has chosen subjects with the proper fealty to his throne. Josh Marshal notes the irony in the description of Rice in today's Post:

Condoleezza Rice, who will be named as Colin L. Powell's replacement as early as today, has forged an extraordinarily close relationship with President Bush. But, paradoxically, many experts consider her one of the weakest national security advisers in recent history in terms of managing interagency conflicts.

"Paradoxically"? There is no paradox here. Rice is precisely the sort of sicophant that President Bush wants.

It all seems vaguely reminiscent of King Solomon's consolidation of power after the threat of Adonijah had been thwarted (1 Kings 2:13ff.). General Joab is killed, and Abiathar is banished in order to have Zadok assume the role of High Priest. With his court in place, Solomon was free to undertake massive building projects in Jerusalem which increased the taxes on the citizenry, involved their forced labor, and eventually required a military draft to protect the trade routes for the cedars of Lebanon and such. Upon Solomon's death and as a direct result of his excesses as King, the Northern Kingdom seceded under Jereboam's leadership, leaving the United Kingdom divided for two centuries to come.

What will happen after four more years of President Bush?


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