A great little piece over at Crooked Timber on the state of the good ship Bush [note to self: check out CT more often...]:
Matt Yglesias is quite right when he says that Scowcroft, Wilkerson and company don’t deserve any kudos for giving the administration a few more kicks when it’s already reeling. But you can also turn this argument on its head – that they’re doing it illustrates exactly how much trouble the administration is in.
[...snip...] That far more prominent Republicans* are now knifing each other in the dark tells us that the disciplining mechanisms that made diIulio recant his apostasy are breaking down very badly. Key people are calculating that they’ll be hurt worse if they stay on message and go down with the ship than if they try to get their own version of the story out while they can...
I'll certainly read the article on Brent Scowcroft when it comes out, but I feel compelled to at least semi-dissent from the heaping of praise upon the likes of Scowcroft, Larry Wilkerson, Richard Haas, and other Republicans who've started speaking out against the Bush administration lately. Everything they say could have been said 12-18 months ago when it would have made a difference for the future of the country. But that would have meant taking fire from the then-intact conservative attack machine, and gotten them labeled as bad party men. Instead of speaking out when Bush was strong and trying to weaken him, they've waited until Bush is weak and decided to pile-on in an effort to save their own reputations.
Better late than never is a true enough adage, I suppose, but it's actually pretty shabby behavior. It also tells you a lot about the way Washington operates and the sort of dysfunctional culture that deserves a lot of blame for the unfortunate circumstances in which the country now finds itself. See also Richard Holbrooke's excellent op-ed on some related points. Richard Clark, by contrast, offered a study in trying to do the right thing when it mattered.
Kevin Drum piles on.
I'm sure there will be an avalanche of these stories to come. I will throw my own slight "little help" for Scowcroft as I think, from very early on, he has been pretty consistent in his criticism of Bush II. He gets a life vest from me, but I'm not pulling him out of the water...
But by and large these guys are right. The people streaming overboard now were content to sit on the sidelines, if not carry Administration water, at the time when this could have made a difference. As long as the ship goes down, I don't really care. And to mix metaphors, as long as the long knives are out, they can continue to sink each others' life rafts too.
The real question is how much spine will this give the Democrats? Will they get beat out the door by the Republicans on this? They need to throw all these fuckers anchors.