Week Two: No Crony Left Behind

Santa Rosa must have the most intelligent homeles people in the world. I’ve just joined the local Sonoma County library, and it is full of grizzled, unwashed hobos, shuffling around the journals, poring through encyclopedias, lost in thought and pungent odours. They are there every day, like mumbling monks, preparing either for an overthrow of the regularly-washed capitalist regime, or a special tramp version of University Challenge (better watch out, Paxman). Their greying pony-tails and Haight-Ashbury beards betray them as old Northern California liberal hippies, more LSD than LSE. These are not, absolutely not, the people who voted in Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governer of California.

I am yet to meet a californian who thought giving Arnie their top job – the ‘one man with one veto’ (and he aint afraid to use it) – was a good idea. Most people here are saying his days are numbered (a phrase I’ve never understood – surely all days are numbered, isn;t that what calendars are for?), but even the Governator isn’t losing support like the President is. Yes, the legendary (read mythical) ‘approval rating’ has never been lower for George W Bush, particularly after his slow response to Hurricane Katrina (he thought it was a female boxer). One of the big political stories to fall from the Katrina fiasco was the resignation of Michael Brown, the Bush-appointed head of FEMA whose only qualifications for running large scale relief operations amounted to cleaning shit from paddock floors at the horse-shows he used to run. Now, the politcial storm is Hurrican Harriet: Bush is insisting on appointing his White House legal adviser (and long-time Texan friend) Harriet Miers to the highest legal position in America, Supreme Court Justice.

Her qualifications for being the nation’s most prominent judge do not include ever having been a judge, nor ever having shown any inclination of wanting to be one. Her own judgement, in fact, is fairly dubious, having once said (to David Frum) that the President was the ‘most brilliant man she knows’, according to the SF Press Democrat. That such a Dubya-acolyte is being rewaded with a position so clearly above her station has naturally angered Democrats, but the real backlash has been from right-wing Republicans – even they abhor the obvious cronyism. On the internet, in the newspapers, on the radio and on TV, Bush is losing the support of his own supporters.

Yet surely he is just showing Americans another version of the American Dream? That you can become important and powerful even if you don’t have any qualifications or experience – in short, ignorance, stupidity and a lack of education pays off. Those homeless guys in the library are clearly wasting their time – or will one of them be the next Secretary of State?

Originally published 10/11/2005