An excellent read:
As he prepares to leave America, Michael Gawenda reflects on a changing political landscape during his 2½ years as the [Syndey, Australia Morning] Herald's Washington correspondent.
This excerpt of Gawenda's account picks up with the days preceding the 2004 Bush Inauguration, as Washington hotels were filling up with Texans and evangelical conservatives coming to town to celebrate Bush's re-election.
As they celebrated, those Republican wannabes, there was a strange and puzzling disconnect between them and what was happening in Iraq. America was at war and yet most Americans were untouched, the coffins of the dead brought home in secret, the bodies buried quietly in their home towns or at Arlington National Cemetery.
Was that the President's great political achievement? Karl Rove, his political svengali, proclaimed that the Bush victory, narrow as it was - the narrowest for any second-term president - would mean that the Republicans were the natural party of government, destined to be in power for a generation or more.
And the Democrats, demoralised and divided, leaderless and bitter, seemed to believe this hubristic nonsense, just as Bush believed it and the conservative evangelical base of the Republican Party believed it, the godless liberals having been crushed and consigned to the political wilderness.
Of course the Rove triumphalism was nonsense, though it is hard to say when it became clear that the war in Iraq and its aftermath had destroyed the Bush presidency, when the disconnect between the war and the lives led by most Americans had disappeared. When did it become clear that the vast majority of Americans could not wait to see the back of Bush and all the President's men and women?
Full Text: How It All Went Wrong
by Michael Gawenda,
Sydney Morning Herald
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