I wake each day with trepidation knowing that earlier this month Karl Rove promised an "October Surprise" in a speech to his acolytes, and this is the last day of October. I think the preferred surprise would have been lower gas prices or a new record for the Dow, because these are things within the capacity to manipulate. The lower gas prices are due to the huge sell-off in oil futures by hedge funds thinking the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict would have lasted a few days more. The record Dow is just that; a record for the handful of blue chip stocks that make up the Dow-Jones Average. These are good days to own stock in Pfizer and Bristol-Meyers; not so good if you need the medicines they make and lack either the insurance or the means to buy them.
So if not cheap gas and high stock prices, what could Rove come up with that would be the Republican equivalent of the Rebel Yell? Only this; matters of war and peace. Since Chucklehead threw the phrase "stay the course" overboard, could an announced change in tactics be far behind in Iraq? Any timetable for troop withdrawal would please me, regardless of the cynical timing of the announcement. I've long ago given up the delusion that this government would not trifle with the safety of our soldiers for political gain. Especially when the expected death penalty for Saddam Hussein will be announced on Nov.5, in the face of projected riots. But a troop withdrawal alone will not stem the tidal wave of angry voters heading for the GOP, and something more electrifying than the thought of gays marrying must motivate a disillusioned base.
It is of some note that James Baker,III has returned to the White House as co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, a group of Poppy's Wizened Old Fixers who always kick in the door and take over whenever Junior has lost his way and needs rescuing by the grown-ups. So it wouldn't surprise me if Baker announced a plan for drastic changes in not merely Iraq, but the "War President's" cabinet as well. This may placate some conservatives, but it won't happen until after the election. The spookiest specter of them all is Henry Kissinger wandering around the West Wing, hands forever stained by the blood of Laotians and Cambodians, giving advice to President Cheney. Is there anyone remaining who does not see the parallels to Vietnam, including the very real possibility of a wider war in the Middle East? If not, here is a ghoulish scenario that only the Frankenstinian minds of Cheney/Rummy/Kissinger might have dreamed up.
All month I have been reading reports, the most alarming by former New York Times Middle East bureau chief Chris Hedges,
that speak of a large build-up of US warships in the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz near Iran. This flotilla includes aircraft carriers, guided-missile cruisers and destroyers, and fast attack submarines. This was done quietly since only tonight did CNN, of all the news networks, announce the presence of US warships in the Gulf for an "exercise to potentially intercept WMD." Would that be coming into, or going out of, Iran?
Bob Woodward has described Dr. Strangelove Kissinger in interviews as "getting to re-fight the Vietnam War" these days. In 1972, he said, "Peace is at hand," and then began secret saturation bombings involving three countries. But while our ships are on an "exercise" off the coast of Iran, I am reminded of how the whole terrible Vietnam War began; with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964, after an attack on US warships was fabricated by a hawkish Defense Department for political purposes. If the Bush's follow the LBJ mold, which worked once, any provocation, real or imagined, by Iran against our soldiers while they are rattling the administration's saber, will be considered the gravest of threats to mankind. Then when a "Cuban Missle Crisis" scenario is developed and a blockade against Iran is formed, Bush gets to attempt to re-enact a genuine JFK moment while a breathless nation watches on TV and decides to go to the polls and dance with those that brung 'em. With power at stake, anything is possible.
The brink of nuclear war is a sure enough scary Halloween trick, but with the possibility of Congressional investigations on the line, WWKD?(Karl). I hope President Shemp is forced to take the James Baker avenue. Baker, even though he lawyered Bush into the White House, is much less scary than the present occupants of the cabinet. Especially Dr. Evil; Dick "The Merciless". This evening when my doorbell rings, we have chocolate goodies for the trick-or-treaters. But if I open the door and see a group of children dressed as Bush, Cheney, Condi, Rove, and Rummy, I trust my wife will have the portable defibrillator nearby. In fact, with the ghost of Richard Nixon still haunting the White House, it might be a good idea to keep it close all week long. Happy Halloween, everyone. Trick or treat?