There arises the question of how much more we, as a nation, can take.
First, the balance of George W. Bush’s second term appears politically untenable. Given the president’s incredibly shrinking public approval, moderate congressional Republicans have abandoned W.’s ship of state, and even their extremist brothers – right-wing asylum grads like J.D. Hayworth and Rick Santorum – only want to see Air Force One flying over, not landing in, their states. It is no stretch to suggest that George has become a president without a country.
And then there’s the United States Senate -- a governing body in procedural shambles, a home to rabid mistrust, a basket case in which once-routine constitutional duties as basic as appointment confirmations now loom as threats capable of disabling the institution permanently. Things have gotten so bad, however, permanent disability is actually preferable to the likes of a Bill Frist and all the little Senate-Frists moving their antisocial agendas forward.
Now the House has become as laughably dysfunctional as both its sister institution and the White House. With its erstwhile majority leader under criminal indictment and out of the game, the substituted leadership mob has managed, in record time, to lay waste to its once-disciplined machine.
Yet as with the Senate, its dysfunctionality is preferable to efficient depravity. Friday’s spectacle over the mutilated Murtha resolution – what Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi labeled as a hallmark of “new lows, even for them” – was simply a caricature in motion of the unscrupulousness that House Republicans have come to represent.
Most of all, what propels the politically untenable is that the American people have passed the point of merely disapproving of their government. They now downright distrust, even despise, that government. With the predictable exception of the roughly one-out-of-five Americans who would support corrupt, right-wing pols no matter how sick the debauchery gets, the nation is unified in opposition to its ruling powers.
The point of surveying our hopelessly dysfunctional government has been, of course, to make the additional point that such a government is unsustainable. It is inconceivable now to envision the White House, arm in arm with the equally discredited Congress, proceeding to operate for three more years with the level of legitimacy necessary in any nation shy of banana-republic status. Democratic governments rule only with the consent of the governed, and we have reached the point – or at the very least, we have reached its precipice – at which that legitimacy is virtually nonattendant.
Something has got to give. The only questions are who and what, how, and how much. And by now one conceivable scenario – and don’t laugh; no one ever thought Tricky Dick would do this, ever – is the resignation of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
In the comings months it will become increasingly undeniable to the public and mainstream media that Bush-Cheney’s actions in ginning up the Iraq war were nakedly impeachable. Consequently the White House will have even less of a base – even in Congress, whose members will be running faster and farther away from the administration as the midterm election nears.
The president and vice president could well be subject to a hostile Democratic majority in 2007, which, propelled by an angry, vengeful public, could feel obligated to initiate impeachment proceedings. Hence Mr. Bush could decide that the better part of valor might be to issue a round of pardons – the first one for himself – leave the White House keys under the mat and get the hell out of Dodge before the impeachable crap hits the congressional fan.
Sure, it sounds improbable. But this has been a supremely improbable administration.