As far as I can tell there are two main questions that need to be answered about the last eight years of American politics:
1) How was it that all of the institutions (the mainstream media, congress, the Fed, regulators) that should have prevented disaster (war, financial crisis) failed at the same time?
2) Why is it that now, particularly as regards to the war, but more broadly on a host of issue, the majority will of the people is not being translated into policy?
A few days ago, Dick Cheney caused a bit of a flap when asked by a reporter about the overwhelming public sentiment against the war. He responded, “So?”
Yesterday, the press corps followed up with Dana Perino and she had this to say:
Q So at what point — I mean, I guess I just — there is the impression that the Vice President doesn’t care about what the American people think in policy like that. Is that a wrong impression? And does the President share that impression?
MS. PERINO: I think that is the wrong impression. I think that the Vice President and the President both, together, all of us across the administration, would like for people to support the President’s decisions. We realize that that’s unrealistic, especially in a time of war — and in particular this war. And while we’re not able to change public opinion, we also have to follow a principle and stand on principle. And you have to ask yourself, what kind of a person do you want in the Oval Office? And America will have this choice to make in November of 2008 — before I get ahead of myself.
So we believe that the President stood on his principle. He hasn’t chased public opinion polls. He’s aware of them, but he hasn’t made decisions because of them, and I think there’s a distinction. Just because you don’t make decisions based on opinion polls doesn’t mean you don’t care what people think. We are all Americans. We care deeply about what people think.
Q The American people are being asked to die and pay for this, and you’re saying they have no say in this war?
MS. PERINO: I didn’t say that, Helen. But, Helen, this President was elected —
Q Well, what it amounts to is you saying we have no input at all.
MS. PERINO: You had input. The American people have input every four years, and that’s the way our system is set up.
Obviously this doesn’t answer question two, but it provides some insight into just how insulated from public opinion this lame duck administration feels it is.