Democrats & Liberals Archives

Collapse of the Potemkin Presidency

Over the last 5 years, George W. Bush, with the aid of Karl Rove and other Republican friends, has erected a Potemkin presidency featuring leadership, integrity, unity, moral values and a humble foreign policy that hides gross ineptitude, lying and secrecy, polarization, a culture of corruption and an arrogant and belligerent foreign policy. The country was blinded by the Potemkin haze - until recently, when the public’s eyes opened wide to see the true nature of this presidency. The Potemkin presidency has collapsed.

The Russian minister Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin had fake settlements erected to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787. He did this to enhance his standing with the empress. Bush did something similar in order to impress the American public. He didn't build a village, but a huge haze around the presidency.

You see, Bush never would have been elected president - twice - if he had advertised himself as he realy was. He needed to build a Potemkin presidency consisting of the following:

  • LEADERSHIP - He is the kind of guy who could get things done. He is a cowboy who believes in action, and not some academic full of theories

  • INTEGRITY - He told us he would restore integrity to the White House. He knew the difference between right and wrong, and between evil and good

  • UNITY - The country was polarized, he said, but he would unify it. He told us he would be president of all Americans, not just Republicans

  • MORAL VALUES - He is a man of faith and therefore of moral values. He would fight to improve the moral fibre of all Americans

  • HUMBLE FOREIGN POLICY - He would be careful when interacting with other nations. He did not believe in nation building
Some of us were not blinded by this haze. We knew what Republicans stood for. But the haze became a halo to the majority of Americans. And George W. Bush fooled the people for a very long time: 5 years!

Now, however, the halo has disappeared, the haze has lifted, the Potemkin presidency has vanished to be replaced by the true presidency:

  • INCOMPETENCE - What kind of leadership drags an unwilling electorate into a war with Iraq by spouting lies, and after winning in battle, allows Iraqi society to disintegrate into the chaos of ethnic and religious killing? What sort of leader would wait several days before doing something about a cataclysmic hurricane such as Katrina?

  • LYING, DECEIT AND SECRECY - Where's the integrity in an administration that works in secrecy and tolerates no dissent? Where's the integrity when those who dissent are called traitors. Where's the integrity when even former members of the adminstration are ferociously attacked?

  • POLARIZATION - The country is not unified. It is more polarized than it has ever been. Polarization is the policy of the Republican Party. Tom DeLay has worked hard to keep Democrats away from legislation and to gain approval for Republican bills primarily by Republicans

  • CORRUPTION - "Moral values" was the biggest hoax of all. Instead we have a "culture of corruption." Lobbyists at K Street are now part of the Republican Party. Business lobbyists write bills that the Republican leadership break heads to approve

  • ARROGANT AND BELLIGERENT FOREIGN POLICY - Humble is the last word to use for Bush's foreign policy. He never asks "permission." He gets rid of treaties. He alienates allies. He mocks the UN. His actions have increased the number of terrorists in the world
What happened that finally collapsed the Potemkin presidency? There are 2 big reasons. The first is the Iraq mess. We were told Hussein had WMD and he did not. We were told we would be accepted as liberators. We were not. We're spending hudreds of billions and our troops are dying and being wounded every single day. And now we have Plamegate, indicating that the White House tried to destroy a diplomat because he wrote that what Bush said in support of the war was a lie. Libby, who worked for Cheney has been indicted. The hell hole of Iraq finally made people open their eyes.

The other big reason is Bush's approach to "saving Social Security." Week after week, from the start of his second term, Bush had these elaborate "conversations." The set-ups were huge platforms to present to TV a great picture. Audiences were comprised of people who agreed with the president. Those who spoke in the "conversation" echoed the points made by the president. He said he wanted to save Social Security by partially substituting private accounts. It very quickly became obvious that private accounts would not have any effect on the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund. The average guy began to realize that Bush is trying to kill Social Security, not save it. This opened the people's eyes wide.

When Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court I knew that the Potemkin presidency is in tatters. He did not have the nerve to nominate someone with a judicial record. He thought he could get away with this nomination. After all, he had gotten his way surreptitiously many times before. Why not now? Now even his friends of the far-Right did not believe him. They wanted proof. They wanted someone they could be sure would interpret the law as the far-Right would. They prevailed upon Bush to withdraw the nomination.

No more Potemkin presidency. Bush nominated Samuel Alito, a man with a far-Right record. No more beating around the Bush. He finally nominated someone with a record that demonstrates that he is a person of the far-Right, ready to overthrow Roe v. Wade. Troy Newman, president of the antiabortion group Operation Rescue, said about Alito:

"We are now on the fast track to derailing Roe v. Wade as the law of the land."

At least now everything is out in the open. Bush and the Republicans want a certified far-Right justice on the Supreme Court. Democrats want anyone but a far-Right justice. Let the battle begin.

The Potemkin presidency has collapsed. The old sleazy tricks of Republicans will not work as well as they did before.

Posted by Paul Siegel at November 2, 2005 7:02 PM
Comments
Comment #89887

Thanks Paul,

Well said. Thanks…

Posted by: Dave at November 2, 2005 7:34 PM
Comment #89889

Paul:

No more Potemkin presidency. Bush nominated Samuel Alito, a man with a far-Right record. No more beating around the Bush. He finally nominated someone with a record that demonstrates that he is a person of the far-Right, ready to overthrow Roe v. Wade. Troy Newman, president of the antiabortion group Operation Rescue, said about Alito:

“We are now on the fast track to derailing Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.”

At least now everything is out in the open. Bush and the Republicans want a certified far-Right justice on the Supreme Court. Democrats want anyone but a far-Right justice. Let the battle begin.

And just to prove your point is his record!!

The best evidence of his work as a judge are his published opinions. They contain a few surprises and some ammunition - for both the left and the right.

For example, of the four abortion cases in which he participated as an appeals court judge, he voted on the pro-choice side in all but one. A 1995 Alito vote striking down a Pennsylvania abortion restriction in particular is raising eyebrows among some legal scholars.

“That [1995 case] strongly seems to indicate that Alito is not a policy-driven true-believer who’s used every possible opportunity to advance one side’s preferred outcome, but instead a judge who has indeed come down on both sides, in different cases,” says David Garrow, a constitutional historian and expert in reproductive rights cases at the high court.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1102/p01s04-usju.html

(found at www.drudgereport.com

A right wing extremist who has voted prochoice three out of four times!! This is just one more reason to hate Bush.

Craig Holmes

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 2, 2005 7:46 PM
Comment #89899

Paul,

Just curious why you call him a far right justice. Definately a conservative I agree but many of his decisions do not fall as an extremist viewpoint.

In a from 2000, Alito agreed with other judges who found unconstitutional a New Jersey law banning late-term abortions. The court said states needed to provide exceptions if a woman’s health is endangered.

Mike P

Posted by: Mike P at November 2, 2005 8:06 PM
Comment #89903

Paul the buzzard circles again…

Posted by: Cliff at November 2, 2005 8:18 PM
Comment #89913

The Potemkin comparison is an excellent one, and I’m very pleased that Paul has made it.

Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin was a political, adminstrative and military genius. He was enormously successful on many fronts but his accomplisments were grotesquely distorted and lied about by unscrupulous hacks who had no interest or knowledge of the truth and who only wanted to damage him politically.

Historians agree that the story about fake settlements was (and is) a lie cooked up to damage Potemkin. Read about it here.

This is indeed an excellent example of how Democrats have responded to Bush—lies, distortion and nonsense based on storylines they tell each other but which bear little if any relation to reality.

How appropriate that a post that distorts Bush’s record so completely should draw comparisons to a campaign of lies against another historical leader.

Posted by: sanger at November 2, 2005 8:45 PM
Comment #89917
This is indeed an excellent example of how Democrats have responded to Bush—lies, distortion and nonsense based on storylines they tell each other but which bear little if any relation to reality.

How appropriate that a post that distorts Bush’s record so completely should draw comparisons to a campaign of lies against another historical leader.

CHUG that Koolaid!!

Posted by: Taylor at November 2, 2005 9:08 PM
Comment #89922

So Who said this oh wise sayer PAUL

“I believe Mr. Alito has the experience and the skills to be the kind of judge the public deserves – one who is impartial, thoughtful, and fair. I urge the Senate to confirm his nomination.”

This was quoted in 1990 by none other than the Ultra Liberal Frank Lautenberg.

Then again how can you defend this statement from the Liberal think tank Teddy Kennedy.

“You have obviously had a very distinguished record, and I certainly commend you for long service in the public interest. I think it is a very commendable career and I am sure you will have a successful one as a judge.”

Then this from Bill Bradley in 1987.

“The confirmation of Sam Alito as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is testimony to the commitment he has shown and the success of his efforts as a law enforcement official. I am confident that he will continue to do all he can to uphold the laws of this nation with the kind of determination and vigor that has been his trademark in the past.”

these are quotes from http://http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Samuel_Alito

quote text

Posted by: SpongeBOB at November 2, 2005 9:41 PM
Comment #89962

Ah phooey!

Posted by: SpaceMan at November 2, 2005 11:56 PM
Comment #89999

It seems that the right is making a bigger deal out of Alito than the left. Yes, there is noise from the left, but it’s not as loud as the rights pre-emptive defense of their judge.

We can’t even get to the hearings process without 2 Republican senators using the “F” word and the “nuclear option” language.

As far as Potemkin, I think it’s a real cute name to give to a shyte throwing circus monkey. :-)
Pun not originally intended but I got a smile out of it after I previewed it.

Posted by: MyPetGoat at November 3, 2005 6:08 AM
Comment #90010

Pet:

Your post was truly amusing. You criticize the “right” for providing factual information about Alito to counter attacks from the left. Its a really cute game you play. If the right were more silent, you’d suggest they have nothing with which to defend Alito. When they provide information, you suggest its out of desperation.

Interestingly, at no time did you respond to any of the relevant information, such as why a hard core Democratic scion like Teddy Kennedy would have such good things to say about Alito. That is part of your game too—-simply ignore that which you have no adequate response to.

I’m sure there are some out there who get fooled by your comments. I recognize the game because its well played by the left. You simply take an issue—-any issue—and stake a claim on both sides of it. Whichever side the right moves to, you move to the opposite. Voila!!! you have an opposing opinion.

Nice try, but that dog just don’t hunt, my friend.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at November 3, 2005 8:02 AM
Comment #90016

Sanger,

You wrote:

Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin was a political, administrative and military genius. He was enormously successful on many fronts but his accomplisments were grotesquely distorted and lied about by unscrupulous hacks who had no interest or knowledge of the truth and who only wanted to damage him politically.

You could be correct about this fact. Paul may believe otherwise, but it makes no difference to the debate. The online version of “The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. still defines “Potemkin village” as “Something that appears elaborate and impressive but in actual fact lacks substance”. So if we conceded the fact to you on this, the metaphor that Paul is drawing still stands and Potemkin is a valid reference to use for that metaphor by virtue of definition. The debate in not about which revisionist historian is correct about Potemkin. The debate is about the Bush Presidency. You seem to be trying to draw two embedded metaphors in your post. One, that this is a campaign of lies… the other that Bush is a political, military, and administrative genius - please. They are good metaphors but they are still wrong. Lets let the cooler heads of revisionist historians figure out how much of a military genius Bush is. That should take them a long time. Campaign of lies? It is the Bush administration that has been indited for lying.

Paul,

You wrote:

INCOMPETENCE - What kind of leadership drags an unwilling electorate into a war with Iraq by spouting lies, and after winning in battle, allows Iraqi society to disintegrate into the chaos of ethnic and religious killing? What sort of leader would wait several days before doing something about a cataclysmic hurricane such as Katrina?

OK… but I would add:

What kind of a president sits for seven minutes when he is told that the country is under attack? He was in front of TV cameras. Should he not immediately have asked for the children to be excused - then - during that seven minutes - made a brief reassuring statement to the American people and gotten in touch his military commanders? Instead he went missing in action and Cheney had to make important decisions like authorizing the shooting down of civilian airliners. At least Cheney was on the job. Where was Bush?

He led us into a no win situation in Iraq. If we stay and fight, we create and train more battle seasoned terrorist. Even if Iraq turns out well in the end, we will still have many more battle seasoned terrorist as a result. If we withdraw, then we are perceived as weak and beatable and we leave the terrorist a safe haven.



Posted by: Ray G. at November 3, 2005 9:11 AM
Comment #90024

Paul,

Oustanding post. Many of us have been seeing through the haze of corruption, lies and utter hypocrisy for years. But now, the entire country is seeing it. Well done. Helen Thomas was right when she called Dubya “The worst President in all of American history.” Thank you for not being afraid to speak the truth, Helen AND Paul.

Posted by: Mister Magoo at November 3, 2005 9:39 AM
Comment #90026

It’s a typical repuglican approach to deride a substantive commentary by focusing on the irrelevant. Irrespective of your viewpoint on
POTEMKIN, GRIGORY ALEKSANDROVICH, PRINCE (1739-1791)
, the reality is that the Bush43 administration has failed in everything other than spinning or sliming. The Alito element is distracting but shows how dangerous the cornered and wounded animal can be.

Posted by: Dave at November 3, 2005 9:41 AM
Comment #90027

Sorry for the typo, I meant to type “republican” (I wouldn’t want to distract)

Posted by: Dave at November 3, 2005 9:42 AM
Comment #90031

“The country is not unified. It is more polarized than it has ever been”

Where were you throughout the 90’s?

Posted by: kctim at November 3, 2005 9:47 AM
Comment #90046

kc,

It’s not that we were united in 1990’s. It’s that we are more divided now than any time since 1865 (Civil War), or even 1965 (Viet Nam War).
The “polarization” first notched up with Reagan/Attwater, trying to make “liberal” into a slur and claiming “values” and “morality” as their sole province. It has since increased with Bush2/Rove/Dobson (Iraq War).

Posted by: Dave at November 3, 2005 10:33 AM
Comment #90055

Spot on, Paul.
Maybe the USS Abraham Lincoln where he pulled his “Mission Accomplished” photo op stunt should be renamed USS Potemkin?

kctim:
“Where were you throughout the 90’s?”

Tim, I agree with Dave. I think things are definitely worse now. Maybe because back then people on the left were also bitterly disappointed and disgusted with Clinton’s actions in the oval office, even when they didn’t believe he should be impeached for them.
I think the deepening divide has come about because the right doesn’t seem capable of displaying disappointment and disgust with this president — even after it’s become so painfully obvious that this whole administration should be removed from power for their corruption, secrecy, and CRIMES (not just against this country, but against humanity).
It’s shocking to see people continue to defend the indefensible, and then on top of that, we’re constantly told to “get over” losing the election, or called traitors to the country, or in the words of the presidents chief of staff, accused of wanting to “offer therapy and understanding” to Al Qaeda. It’s been a constant stream of insult to injury — and it stinks.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 3, 2005 10:56 AM
Comment #90074

Sanger,

“This is indeed an excellent example of how Democrats have responded to Bush—lies, distortion and nonsense based on storylines they tell each other but which bear little if any relation to reality.”

I’d really like for you to back this statement up with real proof.
You seem to enjoy throwing out empty generalizations. You seem to think that these stongly worded, misleading, unsubstantiated talking points and rallying cries are an effective tool to debate issues.
They are not. I would like you to state 3 factual incidences in which the Democratic party or the “Liberal” media has attacked Bush, not based on his actions/inaction or the actions/inaction of his staff or appointments, but just to attempt to bring him down.
I cannot wait to hear from you.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at November 3, 2005 11:56 AM
Comment #90077

Paul, we who aren’t blinded by ignorance know a lot of this already, but it’s very well written and very well presented nonetheless. Thank you. It really is amazing that the wingnuts still try to defend their monkey in the white house. Even their own “principles” mean nothing when it comes to America’s worst president. What’s more amazing is that they wonder why their intelligence is questioned because of it.

I suppose I should be glad they write their crap. The more they write, the more they expose their lack of reason and commons sense to a public that’s less and less receptive to it. (Plus their conniptions are extremely entertaining in a cringe sorta way). For the same reason I almost hope Alito gets on the Court. I’d hate to see it, but perhaps his vote will further erode our hard won liberties and protections and, when America sees the effects of their recent votes for the biblical-worldview Republican right, they’ll wake up and put reasonable people back in office.

I love our chances in 06 and 08.

Posted by: roger at November 3, 2005 12:13 PM
Comment #90124

Why do Democrats always want to appoint justices that will legislate from the bench instead of justices who will interpret the law as it is written without any inferrences or inclusions, exclusions that may or may not be in the best interests of the people.

When will you learn that Justices on the supreme court are not representative of the people. They are appointed. There is no quota placed on whether one is black, white, hispanic or female therefore does not require affirmative action. If the Democrates want to appoint legislative jurists to the bench than they have to convince the majority of the American People that Legislating from the high court is an okay thing to do. You will never convince me of that.

Is there an amendment that gives women the right to have an abortion. IF NOT than liberals are putting too much weight into Roe. Petition for that amendment to the constitution. IF that is done, then abortion can’t be taken away because a jurist wouldn’t be able to say that abortion rights are not protected by the constitution.

We can go about this many ways. If you want to limit the peoples rights challenge their validity in the constitution. If you want to secure peoples rights, etch them in the constitution.

You are worried about a stupid case being overturned and have spent 30 years doing so. Why wasn’t all that energy put into a constitutional amendment that would have like womens voting rights been fortified by the legality in being listed as an amendment to the Constitution?

Justices interpret the law. Worry about overturning Roe and you know that Roe is not supported as a given right by the constitution.
Have Abortion listed as right by the constitution and now you’ve got something worth it’s salt.

I am for a womans right to choose. Make it an amendment. I know my two senators would vote for it and I would support them. But putting legislators on the bench would usurp the authority of congress as the lawmaking body and put in the hands of 9 justices what our framers charged 539 Representatives and Senators to do. A Literal Jurist is what you want in the Highest court not a liberal.

If you want the court to uphold rights that are not protected by the constitution you had better get busy and make them constitutionally amended.

The constitution lives and breaths. When changed in the manner charged by the founders the system works.

Posted by: Jack-o-lantern at November 3, 2005 2:39 PM
Comment #90256

I am always amazed that someone puts forth their belief and then proceeds as if they were facts, much less truth. There is just so much gibberish in your commentary that reading it requires one “suspend disbelief” Your comment on the “lies” that lead to war. Exactly which lie is that and how often was the same “lie” stated by every democratic leader starting in 1998 forward? Kennedy” we know there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” Clintons (Hillary) we know that Iraq has ties to Al Quida , or perhaps The senior member of the intelligence committee Jay Rockefeller;: Saddem Hussein is an EMMINENT THREAT”

Saddem Hussein is described; as president of IRAQ, he developed a pervasive personality cult, ran an authoritarian government, and maintained power through the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988) and the first Persian Gulf War (1991), which were both devastating to Iraq, lowering living standards and human rights

Why were you not as concerned about the hundred’s of thousand being killed by him as you are about the IRAQ’s now dying? If you were concerned when and how did you show it?

I’m sorry, but your commentary has the same ring of truth that one got from Mayor Clarence Ray Nagin Jr.of New Orleans on Katrina!!

Posted by: Alden Smith at November 3, 2005 7:43 PM
Comment #90381

Alden:

You can almost tell a liberal because the believe Bush lied no matter what the evidence to the contrary. It does’nt matter what Clinton has said, or what his policy was, or what the other intelligence organizations believed.

In essense they are “Lying” in order to prove Bush “lied”.

The truth as near as I can tell is that the intelligence was wrong about WMD. The left believes otherwise because that belief mobilizes their base and keeps the money rolling in. It is purely political to regain power. It is just second term politics. This is how we do second term politics in America now adays. Republicans are on better.

Craig

It is pretty interesting to live though all the scorn from the left over Monicagate. (“it’s just about sex”. There was some truth to all of that. Now here come the left ingnoring the truth because it doesn’t fit their political agenda.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 3, 2005 11:47 PM
Comment #90677

To all,

Regarding the situation in Iraq:

We know there were NO Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Since we are there now and had all the time in the world to look around, investigate, interrogate and trace any leads, there remains no doubt: Iraq did not have WMD. I know; Saddam had every INTENTION to revive his weapons program. Intentions do not blow people up. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
We now also know the intelligence community was split on this issue. This argument that “everyone looked at the same intelligence and reached the same conclusions” is crap. If anyone else had really though Iraq had a chemical missile pointed at them, going to war would not have been such a hard sell to the international community. Truth is; no one was really sure (Clinton included probably)

I can not fault President Bush for making a call to go to war based on his best “gut feeling”. What I find very upsetting is that the public was told “We know were these weapons are. We know who is making them and how they look like”. This, my friends, is a lie. At best an exaggeration. What do you call it when a Secretary of State goes to the U.N. with a bunch of PowerPoint slides that are nothing but fiction (I’m referring to the mobile bio-weapons labs)?
Friends, at this point in time I can only say this: a) the administration lied to us and they should be impeached, or b) basing their decisions on such conflicting intelligence was such an incompetent move they should be fired.

Regarding Judge Alito:

Frankly, I wish him luck in the confirmation process and I hope he has a very distinguish career in the SCOTUS. Everything I read about him points out to a very decent jurist.
I also hope he and the other conservative judges overturn Roe v. Wade
If what happened with the SC decision regarding imminent domain is any indication, reversing Roe v. Wade will most likely result in state legislatures taking the task to legalize the right to chose as a State matter. Over 60% of Americans support the rights of women to have control over their reproductive decisions. If the right to choose is signed into law (as it should have been long ago) then people will stop making the SC into some kind of hero-villain in this culture war.

With regards to Paul’s post:

Kudos! Good article except for the Alito thing…

Best regards

Posted by: Genaro Blake at November 5, 2005 12:01 PM
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