The imperial CEO
Maybe not president for next year
We've had a couple of posters talking about the coming Bush dictatorship, based mostly on an incomplete understanding of what a dictatorship is.
The conditions for dictatorship
A dictatorship isn't just one man rule. A dictator is the representative of a significant element of the ruling class, the military, industrialists, and has widespread support. For people to embrace dictatorial rule, the current government must fail to work.
There are basically two kinds of dictatorship: assumptive and incremental, but both need the same conditions to flourish.
First, the conditions for one man rule comes after social disorder. People have to feel unsafe in the streets in a personal way. Not in the sense of crime, but of a sense of society falling apart. The Reds fighting the Nazis in the streets of Berlin, the left in Latin America and Greece going after the right.
Just big talk or even a terrorist attack will not do it. There has to be a sense of a lack of personal safety from a society losing control.
The government has to be seen as ineffective as well. Not just slow or annoying, but unable to protect you from crime or your job or even basic social order.
Second: you need a national police force. One poster calls America's current police forces militarized. Funny, when I do my research, I read about the French CRS and the German Bundespolizei, complete with special forces. The way American law is, police are strictly regionalized and resistant to orders from state and federal authorities
The United States is a country of nearly 300 million people with over 200 million guns. To quell the LA riots took elements of the 40th CANG and the 5th Marines days. Two men with AK's held off the LAPD for hours.
Third: you need an extrajudicial force personally loyal to you. You seen any Bush Legion members patrolling your streets? A dictatorship doesn't merely work outside the law, it must create lawlessness. It must respond to threats with violence while the current government is powerless to act or is allied with these forces. In the size of a country the United States, this would have to be millions of people personally loyal to Bush and willing to commit violence, even die to assure his personal rule.
But all this misses the point. Any society, as Sinclair Lewis, pointed out, can turn into a dictatorship. I read It Can't Happen Here in high school, found it for a dollar in the old used Barnes and Noble.
Dictatorship requires a mix of charisma and dynamism which Bush so clearly lacks. What he is more totem than leader. The neo cons see him as their ally, but is merely their tool, the fundies see him as one of them, but not all the way, the fiscal conservatives share the same clubs, but dislike his ideology. He merges all of these things without a clear idea of his leadership. He's petulent when he should be assured, stumbling when he should be confident. At least Pinochet and the Argentine junta represented the state and the military. All Bush stands for, personally, is money. Other people's money.
Make no mistake, there is ALWAYS the threat of a man on horseback, from left or right. But Bush isn't it.
What is Bush?
People conflate some things into turning Bush into some kind of omnipotent ruler, when he can't even face a real crowd.
Claiming Bush stole the 2004 election makes people feel good, but the fact that Diebold was only used in few electoral districts seems to have been lost on people. To blithely say that the GOP can now fix elections forever is pure ignorance. There is no one standard voting machine in the US, no one standard set of rules. No one even bothered to do a study of voting trends in suspect districts.
A lot of people have to get out of a self-defeatist mindset, they have to stop looking for excuses to lose and walk away. Because like Enron, Bush is in serious trouble.
Bush is a CEO, the political version of Ken Lay. He is no more dictator than a CEO, but he assumes he has more power than he does.
Michael Moore sleeps soundly at night. No Hummer is outside his apartment with blacksuited goons waiting to take him to a warehouse to work him over? Cindy Sheehan isn't in exile, moving from place to place, right?
No, Bush deals with his enemies the way a company does: discredits them. They set their bloggers, their oppo, all their old tricks, stuff in lieu of a SLAPP suit. The act remains the same, they make shit up, they act like they have their shit together and people fall for it.
They treat Congress like a board of directors, nodding agreement and doing what they want.
Now, this can go on for years, but one day, the lawsuits pile up. The questions can no longer be dodged. They go too far. Maybe it's a yacht or a water company or the NSA listening to Americans phone calls. There is always the act which pisses off the shareholders, the lingering lawsuit which spills all the secrets.
Scooter Libby's lawyer Ted Wells, plans on dragging reporters in to save his client. By then, it will be far too late. That jury pool will be so inclined to jail him it wouldn't be funny.
Bush's problem is that the courts are about to be swarmed with cases, Congress is wondering if they're on the tapes Bush has, if their calls were tracked. Like a CEO with much to hide, he'll change the subject.
How many companies praise a CEO before they dump him?
The price of failure
Richard Nixon, running in wartime, not only won 49 states, but got significant Democratic support. But as we lost in Vietnam and Nixon was exposed as a crook, his support drained away.
Like so many now convicted CEO's, who ran secret programs, cut corners, and paid off friends, Bush runs government without consultation or confrontation. A body of yes men protect him from reality until it is too late.
No American presidency has survived losing a war. Johnson and Truman were forced not to run again, despite a successful reelection, because they could not win a war. If it becomes clear that Iraq is lost, the Shia are going to demand we leave, the political consequences will land squarely on Bush's lap, no one else's. Not the neocons. not the John Yoos of the world, no one. Failure is an orphan, and it is all Bubble Boy Bush's.
When people look at post-war dictatorships as a guide to Bush, they miss the obvious. Who has more unquestioned power in modern American life than a CEO. Who is more venerated? Who remains unchallenged for years? It's not some man on horseback, but the modern American CEO, with his princeling children, unaccountable and required to do little but spend daddy's money.
Bush has aquired power, but not in the mode of Pinochet, but Dennis Kowslowski. power to hide his failures and to protect his errors, to protect his cronies and to avoid criticism. Bush deals with his critics like any American CEO, he discredits them in the media.
And like an American CEO, Bush's presidency will collapse in the same manner that Enron and Tyco did.
posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM