Bush White House is run on a business model.
The president is the CEO. He delegates to
others, including the vice president, who
was once a CEO himself. It therefore should
come as no surprise that George W. Bush, a
Harvard MBA after all, is doing what other
CEOs do when they get into trouble. In his
case, he's "restated" his reasons for going
Corporations do this all the time. If a profit
of, say, $2.8 billion turns out to be a loss
of a similar amount on account of unanticipated
developments (corruption, greed, the demands
of mistresses), the figure merely gets "restated."
Usually no one is held responsible for this,
because a billion here or a billion there
can, as we know, fall through the cracks.
In fact, the CEO -- having been given a bonus
for such a banner year -- is then given another
one for managing his company through difficult
In the same way, the president recently restated
some of the reasons for invading Iraq. Saddam
Hussein's nuclear weapons program, which Bush
told the world was being "reconstituted,"
may in fact not exist. The White House the
other day restated its earlier insistence
that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from the
West African nation of Niger. It turned out
that the supporting documents had been forged.
The White House admitted that in a press release
left behind after Bush had departed for Africa.
Similarly, the accusation that Iraq was buying
high-strength aluminum tubes, which Bush said
were "used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons,"
has to be restated. The tubes appear to have
been bought for another purpose entirely and
may not be high-strength after all.
As for the charge that Iraq was bristling
with other weapons of mass destruction, none
have yet been found, raising the distinct
possibility that -- in an upcoming quarter
-- this too will be restated and the Bush
administration will take a one-time charge
against future credibility.
In fact, should we -- the stockholders of
this operation -- look back at the original
business plan for the proposed Bush administration,
we will find that almost everything has been
restated. During the campaign, Bush said he
would not go in for peacekeeping operations
abroad. He appears ready to do so in Liberia.
He also said he would not get engaged, as
did the previous CEO, Bill Clinton, in the
nitty-gritty of Middle East peace negotiation.
The administration is now choosing intersections
in Gaza for traffic lights.
Restatement follows restatement until we poor
stockholders have no choice but to conclude
that either the Bush administration did not
know what it was talking about when it came
into office or does not know what it is talking
about now. Not even in corporate America can
you hold two contradictory positions simultaneously.
One of them, as any CEO can tell you, has
to be restated.
The Bush administration's interim business
plan called for the capture or killing of
Osama bin Laden. On account of a botched operation
in the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan, this
now has to be restated. Similarly, the proclaimed
determination to rid the world of Saddam Hussein
also has not succeeded. As with bin Laden,
this failure will be restated as not being
all that important. You learn this sort of
thing in business school.
In fact, the entire business plan for Iraq
has to be restated. It turns out that the
country simply will not govern itself, that
some elements resent the U.S. occupation and
that it will take more troops to administer
the country than originally thought. In some
way, this abject failure to plan for an occupation
-- despite repeated warnings -- will have
to be creatively restated. To paraphrase the
president, bring on the restatement.
The dangers of an immense budget deficit have
been restated. Rising unemployment has been
restated to blame the Clinton administration.
The critical importance of relations with
Mexico has been restated. The evils of affirmative
action were -- after the Supreme Court ruled
-- restated and so, of course, were the reasons
for going to war in Iraq. Now it is to rid
that country of Saddam Hussein and establish
the predicates for a Middle East peace. I
like them both.
Still, all these restatements suggest a business
plan that was both flawed from the start and
implemented with an appalling level of incompetence.
Despite that, the CEO of this mismanaged operation
is not held accountable and remains popular
with the shareholders. It used to be that
the buck stopped with the president. To state
the obvious, that's been restated.
2003 The Washington Post Company
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