all the king's horses and all the king's men...

supporting cast: bush 41's national-security team, in 1991. from far left, scowcroft, gates, cheney, quayle, baker, bush and powell.

the democrats took the house and the senate, which means they have control of congress. the president can still set the agenda, but nothing will get done without the democrats. Soon after the political “thumping” by the democrats, george w. bush had announced that secretary of defense donald rumsfeld was resigning, to be replaced by robert m. gates. bush also announced the desire to work with the iraq study group, a commission on iraq chaired by james a. baker III.

for years bush has been avoiding accepting advice or turning to his father, the 41st president of the united states, george herbert walker bush. it seems that now, finally, he is turning to his father, or at least his father’s old guard, to help him get out of the mess that is iraq, the mess that he created, a mess that his father was too smart to get entangled in. the significance of this is not lost to the media. newsweek is reporting in its latest issue what is deemed as a big bite of humble pie, a sort of political “father knows best.”

george bush sr. is a smart man who had smart people around him. smart enough to know that going into baghdad was not feasible, that it would be a colossal mistake, given the age old rivalries along ethnic and religious lines. saddam, as awful as he was, seemed to have some sort of control of the place, and it was more about the devil you know then the devil you don’t, which is one of the reasons why saddam was never taken out when the united states had the chance back during the gulf war.

the newsweek piece is very interesting, because it touches on the bush clan and how they work, both politically and as a family unit, and while there is yet no direct proof of bush sr. making direct moves to help his son, there is enough speculation to show that in some respect, bush jr. is in need of help, and his father’s old team, lead by james baker, is stepping in to rescue him.

some highlights of two of the articles:

on the bush political family dynasty:

- It is an irony of history, and the tragedy of the Bush family saga, that President Bush has all along had the best and the brightest just a phone call away. His father is a deeply seasoned and wise foreign-policy expert. Had, say, Sen. John McCain been elected, Bush 41 would have been jetting around the globe helping to resolve conflicts. Instead, aside from some tsunami and Hurricane Katrina relief work, Bush Senior has been relegated to watching all those political talk shows his son refuses to watch, wincing each time he hears his son's name being mocked or criticized. George H.W. Bush has been, in effect, sidelined by nepotism. He has repeatedly told close friends that he does not believe it is appropriate or wise to second-guess his son, or even offer advice beyond loving support.

on james baker who chairs the iraq study group, and who is also suspected of having a hand in the changing of donald rumsfeld for robert m. gates:

- ...it would be widely speculated that Baker was somehow in on the secret, that he helped arrange the firing of Rumsfeld and the appointment of Gates as part of a fundamental power shift, a last-ditch rescue operation—by the old guard of Bush 41 to save Bush 43 from sinking ever deeper into the Iraq morass.

- It's not even clear that Baker ("Bakes," to Bush 41) and Bush (el jefe, to Baker) spoke to each other about the Rumsfeld-Gates switch. Baker's relationship with the Bush family is close but rivalrous, and it has endured jealousies and suspicions… Baker has, on occasion, wondered why he wasn't the one elected president. Barbara Bush was widely reported to be miffed at Baker for not trying hard enough to get her husband re-elected in 1992.

- George W., who sometimes reflects his mother's resentments, did not call on Baker for advice when he was preparing for his presidential run. "That was okay with me," writes Baker, who nonetheless answered the call when George W. needed a good lawyer to take on the Florida voting fiasco in 2000. Baker's cleverness and diligence for the Bush clan in its hour of need were possibly decisive. But make no mistake: Baker is no mere lawyer for the Bushes. Trying to describe Baker's role and his true allegiances in the Iraq Study Group, the former Baker aide quotes Justice Louis Brandeis, who once said that in certain cases the lawyer has a responsibility to represent the situation, not the client. In this case, the situation is the national interest in getting a solution to the Iraq mess—not protecting the president or the Bush family. "It so happens that this also serves Baker's interests," says the aide. As his memoir makes clear, Baker cares deeply about being remembered as a statesman, not a pol or a hired gun.

on the iraq study group trying to find solutions to iraq:

- For the Iraq Study Group, he (baker) has reached out to Iranian, Syrian and Saudi diplomats; he has traveled to Iraq and met with local civilian and military leaders, and he has stroked the large and sometimes fractious egos of his own commissioners.

- The commissioners are just now receiving a draft of the recommendations. The contents are a closely guarded secret, but the commission is certain to call for some kind of diplomacy with Iraq's neighbors, reversing the Bush administration refusal to negotiate with enemies like Iran and Syria. "There are going to be some things in this report that the administration is not going to be excited about," says Baker, choosing his words carefully. There may also be some kind of call for a troop drawdown or redeployment, though Baker says he is very reluctant to dictate to the U.S. military

- ...the Iraq Study Group must find a middle way, a plan of action that can be characterized neither as "cut and run" nor "stay the course." Judging by the election returns and the exit polls, it's what the people want—along with an end to rancorous partisan squabbling and ideological posturing. But getting a plan—and carrying it out—will be difficult to achieve.

on robert m. gates, rumsfeld’s replacement:

- Within two hours the president was in the Oval Office with Rumsfeld and his replacement: Robert M. Gates, Bush Senior's CIA director and the president of Texas A&M University, the home of Bush 41's presidential library.

finally, on bush sr. directly helping his son:

- In Houston the phones started ringing, and Bush 41 staffers were pulled away from their pizza. Reporters were calling and e-mailing: would 41 talk about 43's shake-up? The answer was no, though two perfunctory statements were issued (one for the College Station Eagle and one, as the former president put it, "for everybody else"). Still, the reality spoke for itself. Dad's team was back—a remarkable course correction in the political life of the son and, quite possibly, in the life of the nation.

- A source who declined to be identified discussing presidential confidences told NEWSWEEK that Bush 41 left "fingerprints" on the Rumsfeld-Gates decision, though the father's exact role remains shrouded in speculation. "This would have been done by nuance and indirection. Forty-one would have said to 43, 'One of the people who I've been talking to who might be helpful is Bob Gates'," said a veteran of previous GOP administrations who declined to be identified talking about the Bush family. A onetime director of the CIA and loyal member of Skull and Bones, his Yale secret society, Bush "is a master of deniability," says an old aide to Jim Baker, who asked for deniability while discussing Bush.

all in all, very interesting i would say. probably the best read to come out since the midterm elections. you can find the sources here (source 1) and here (source 2). regardless of whether bush sr. had anything to do with the switch up, it is a good sign and there’s hope that the united states won’t be staying the course. now whether they can put humpty dumpty back together again is yet to be seen. at least the next two years should be really interesting.

to top it off, here’s stephen colbert’s take on the whole “father knows best” scenario: