Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Honeymoon's Kaput

One of the nicer attributes of Americans in general is their tendency to let new presidents get things going without much objection as a way of collectively saying "Well, we voted for the guy, so let's let him have what he wants until something goes wrong". Journalists even have a name for the phenomenon - It's called the "Honeymoon period." When things get a bit more contentious, someone is bound to announce that "The honeymoon's over."
Two things have happened recently that reveal how little trust remains these days between our major parties and their major players. First, it's customary for Congress to adjourn in December to break for the Holidays.
Not this year.The Democrats are aware that Mr. Bush has taken advantage of this little break to make "recess appointments" of certain people in order to avoid the process of Senate confirmation. John "The 'Stache" Bolton was the most prominent of these, appointed during a Congressional recess as U.N. Ambassador. Since Democrats now control both houses of Congress, the rules were played in such a way that technically there was NO holiday recess at all. In other words, the Democrats felt better about making sure there would be no such appointments than if they had simply asked the president to refrain. No trust.
Have you ever tried to find the Strait of Hormuz on a map? It isn't very large, but it is the primary sea route of Mideast oil to refining facilities all over the world. Traffic there's even a bit tighter now since our hostility towards Iran prompted sending two aircraft carrier groups to the area with a kind of vague mission. You probably heard about the incident with the destroyer beset by what looked like miniature speedboats in a "threatening" manor.
What's surprising this time around is the broad disbelief that the incident went as reported, no doubt aided by the fact that the "facts" about the incident keep changing. We hear the President loudly declare that the incident is proof that the Iranians are bad guys putting in jeopardy the "free" flow of oil.
But the reaction just isn't the same. We've been this way before, and not just with this administration. Since the Strait of Hormuz isn't a sightseeing spot, we are called on to believe what were are being told. But having been misled (that's the kind expression for "lied to") before, we can't help asking questions, even though the answers are again vague. Given the choice of trusting President Bush or Iran's tieless president who's usually described in the media as "crazy", we are slower, much slower, to reach for the key to the gun case again. Given what Bush has told us before, Mr. Tieless may actually be telling the TRUTH. It's a bit like the old saying from the sixties - "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came".
I think there will be other attempts to generate a military standoff with Iran. The goal is (and here's that euphemistic phrase again) "regime change". Thank God there is a regular regime change here taking place week by week as the next election approaches. But gosh knows, the honeymoon's over, or, as the Germans say, kaput.


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