National yenta corps

Yenta doll.

Isn't that Dr. Phil's job?

The Shrub has proposed spending $1.5B to form a National Yenta Corp. The money would go for training to help couples, especially low-income couples, learn interpersonal skills to sustain "healthy marriages." What will the man think of next?

I'm indebted to Maureen Dowd, op-ed columnist for the New York Times, who described Bush's proposal as "audaciously quixotic" and coined the phrase "the national yenta." (The doctor is out, (NY Times, 15-Jan-04)

Just what poor people need: interpersonal skills training! Isn't that why we have Dr. Phil? I have a feeling they would appreciate affordable health care and child care more. A job with a decent wage would probably make them ecstatic. If the government had $1.5B to spend, which it doesn't, there are many ways to spend the money that would be much more helpful.

Except by applying the most optimistic assumptions — that is, fantastic, as in fantasy — the US budget will be swimming in red ink for the forseeable future and beyond. Iraq eats money at the rate of $1B per week. W just proposed spending countless billions more to colonize the moon and send people to Mars and beyond. The entire country generated just 1000 new jobs in the entire month of December, and the unemployment rate fell only because so many people just gave up trying to find work.

What is he thinking!!!! Actually, that's not hard to figure out. There's an election coming up and W's base — read "right-wing, ultra-conservative, fundamentalist-Christian, red-staters" — is getting fidgety about the emergence of ho-mo-sex-u-als from their closets and their insistence that they are people too and deserve the same rights as breeders. It isn't enough "they" have Will & Grace, Queer Eye, and a bunch of other programs that only show up on cable. Next they want to get married! Gasp!

Here's an idea: get Britney Spears as celebrity spokesperson! Or how about putting Rush Limbaugh in charge of the program? He likes marriage so much he's been married three times.

Given the divorce rate in the US, it's clear marriage needs some help. But marriage isn't falling apart because of gays and lesbians who want to get married.

The proposed yenta corps is just another little treat cooked up to try to keep the conservatives happy. They're disgruntled that Bush hasn't flat-out said he was in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would declare marriage means only a man and a woman. It's what they call shoring up the base.

The best part of making proposals is that the political mileage comes from making the proposal and doesn't depend on actually implementing or even seriously trying to implement the proposal. For example: "Leave no child behind" – underfunded. "Emergency plan for AIDS relief" – underfunded. It's even better if the proposal is for something in the future so the implications aren't immediatly known or felt: Medicare prescription drugs and the current proposal for a moon colony and manned exploration of Mars and beyond (two decades from now) are terrific examples.

Karl Rove

Rove inside

Master chef. Who cooks up all these schemes? Who makes sure political considerations trump policy?

The Shrub's political strategist is Karl Rove. (Actually, it might be more correct to say that Bush is Rove's political tool. For a bit of background, albeit with viewpoint, see Boy Genius or Turd Blossom? The Guardian, 2-Oct-03)

Rove's domination is said to be complete. Former domestic policy adviser John DiIulio wrote to Esquire that everything in the Bush White House was run for political considerations by what he called "the Mayberry Machiavellis." DeIulio letter Esquire article on Rove

I note that the Esquire article was written by Ron Suskind whose just-released book about Paul O'Neill, The Price of Loyalty, contains a similar description of White House modus operandi.


For a brilliant send-up of the Bush White House and Karl Rove, I highly recommend whitehouse.org. (Note that the official White House website is whitehouse.gov.)

For fun, I've quoted the introductory paragraph of an "Ask the White House" Q&A with Karl Rove. Remember, this is a parody. Or is it?

In This Installment (11.20.2003):
KARL ROVE: SENIOR DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISOR Karl Rove home

Good evening. I'm Karl Rove. As President Bush's most trusted advisor, I am instrumental in shaping Presidential policy on all matters of domestic interest, political strategy, and photo-friendly cowboy couture. While many people correctly believe me to be the most powerful man in Washington, my primary contribution to the Bush White House has been fomenting the perception of that this administration cannot be influenced by polling, media pressure, or so-called "facts." I'm also famously open-minded to diverse perspectives, and love having my sage opinions informed by dialogue with all types: from ultra-conservative lobbyists to petrochemical billionaires and right-wing evangelicals. Its my pleasure to answer your questions today. So let's get underway.