Thursday, November 1

Hughes Suddenly Remembers Family; Resigns Again

OKAY, that headline won out over "Karen Hughes, 2001-Spring 2002, 2005-2007: An Appreciation", and "Karen Hughes: My Work Here Is Finished", on the grounds that the more I thought about it the more I figured that her first resignation was the only thing Karen Hughes ever said or did that had a fair chance of being remembered. This is the principle difference between Karen Hughes and a stick of gum: the stick of gum actually delivers some flavor for a couple of minutes.

This is the woman the Cato Institute's David Boaz, in what can only be assumed was a desperate cry for help, once described as "[possibly] the most powerful woman in the history of American politics". This came in the opening paragraphs of an April 30, 2002 "think piece" in the New York Post "newspaper" in which he insisted that Hughes really was leaving to spend more time with her family, and he said this as a means of promoting his idea that women (God love 'em) are just too estrogen-laden to run anything more complex than a nursery. (The Institute has graciously reprinted it here, just in case any outsiders were contemplating taking libertoonianism seriously, even for a moment.)

I have to admit I find the lure of Bush administration nostalgia almost irresistible, now that the man himself is reduced to playing a community theatre Miss Havisham and the only thing left of his gang is Condi Rice and a mountain of criminal prosecutions. Oh, bright cherry blossoms of 2001! Hughes was the most powerful woman ever to set foot in the West Wing. Rice and Colin Powell were the twin avatars of The Mostest Color-blind Administration, Like, Ever. Winking, smirking, and used-car-dealer bonhomie were the softening artillery barrage of a Charm Offensive set to conquer the land with Conservative Compassion. And Dick Cheney was the selfless éminence grise with one ambition-less hand discretely on the rudder as the Boy King learned the read the winds.

We say again: it is impossible to believe that anyone who accepted this crap could have survived the required navigation of any of a multitude of modern-day commonplaces: lighting a pilot light, refueling a vehicle, crossing a street, operating a zipper. And yet, there you have it, a kitschy, sentimental small-town parade where all the floats are constructed of horseshit, with a couple of local disc jockeys babbling on the PA about how fresh the air seemed that morning.

And sorry to destroy the reverie, but this wasn't the hopeful beginning of some potential New Camelot, it was the coronation of the man who had lost the fucking election. And it was not some wispy and wistful naivete; it coincided with the ugly and transparent Hey Look Over There attacks on the outgoing President, spearheaded by libels from the new Press Secretary and gleefully transmitted by the White House Press Corps and the other seekers of truth who had, to the best of their ability, ignored Iran-Contra and the Great S&L Swindle but revived the dead-issue of Whitewater for an eight-year run. It's difficult not to focus on the colossal blunders of the administration, and the unblinking bloodlust of the public in the wake of 9/11, but the departure of Karen Hughes, former Most Powerful Woman in the Solar System For Several Weeks, former WHIG, former Dallas teleprompter reader, should remind us that nothing about this operation ever passed the smell test, and it survived as long as it did because of a complete lack of public scrutiny which stinks just as bad. I hate to go all misty-eyed on ya, but to me the enduring image of the Bush administration comes from shortly before there was such a thing: his limo stopped for several minutes in the coronation parade, while the teevee commentators said nothing.


Davis X. Machina said...

...that nothing about this operation ever passed the smell test

As early as 1999, I assumed that the entire Bush campaign was never more than an exercise in pure marketing -- an attempt to find the answer for Presidents that had already been found for hamburgers and Hershey bars and legroom on airliners: "How little can we give the American people and still not have them refuse to buy the product?"

Ray Bridges said...

The entire Bush Administration and the Republicans of Congress are a bunch of con-artists intent on cleaning the rubes out before their sorry asses get run out of town.

They never had a higher purpose than to steal as much as they could get away with. Even down to soaking the taxpayers for Hughes's hundred thou plus salary which came with a title and no job description. Cheney's daughter had a similar post. They're like a bunch of cheap carnies.

On one level, I don't care who replaces them just as long as they're replaced. Of course, that's exactly what worries me about Hillary Clinton: she's the status quo only with a smarter person in charge. That should scare all of us.

Anonymous said...

...a multitude of modern-day commonplaces: lighting a pilot light, refueling a vehicle, crossing a street, operating a zipper...

**chuckle** Geeeeeza, how incompetent: me, I graduated Zipper Manipulation with flying colors way back in the first grade (the flying [npi] colors being a few pinot-noir-hued pinch marks on my proto-Johnson). In fact, I aced the higher-numbered courses of the Commonplace Discipline all the way up to One-Handed Bra Disengagement With Reverse Twist. "Too sweaty, the hands," judged the expert.

My favorite snapshot of this nest of vipers is yet to come: it will be the Reading of the Verdicts by the to-be-assembled International War Crimes Commission On The Iraq Genocide, the trial hopefully and symbolically to take place in Nuremburg in, oh, 2009.

Julia said...

Don't be silly. Liz Cheney has a job description. She's the middle east democracy tsar

Kathy said...

Don't diss carneys! Carnivals are at least FUN! And carneys are the saltofthe earth. One kept a ferris wheel going for my date & I, round-and-round...bleah...I suffer from motion sickness. I was sick for days and never dated that guy again...bless all carneys just the same!

Anonymous said...

yeah and Art Carney was the wackiest

Ray Bridges said...

The use of the word "carney" should in no way be misconstrued as disparagement of actual carnival workers. It is instead an American coloquial expression for someone who comes into town in the dead of the night, sets up an act for the rubes, and takes them for all they're worth, employing bait and switch, slight of hand, and other nefarious techniques. Think Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, neocons.

yellojkt said...

Remember that Karen was able to delay showing up for work until her kid graduated from high school. I guess it's important to be home for that critical junior year of college.

I'm stunned how the supposed Labor Day resignation deadline hasn't slowed the brain drain, such as it is, from the Dubya Lame Duck Administration.