Tuesday, May 18, 2004



He was a stock character in 19th-century fiction: the wastrel son who runs up gambling debts in the belief that his wealthy family, concerned for its prestige, will have no choice but to pay off his creditors. In the novels such characters always come to a bad end. Either they bring ruin to their families, or they eventually find themselves disowned.

George Bush reminds me of those characters — and not just because of his early career, in which friends of the family repeatedly bailed out his failing business ventures. Now that he sits in the White House, he's still counting on other people to settle his debts — not to protect the reputation of his family, but to protect the reputation of the country.

One by one, our erstwhile allies are disowning us; they don't want an unstable, anti-Western Iraq any more than we do, but they have concluded that President Bush is incorrigible. Spain has washed its hands of our problems, Italy is edging toward the door, and Britain will join the rush for the exit soon enough, with or without Tony Blair...

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