Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bush Bonking?

Floyd Landis bonked big-time today in the Tour de France, losing ten minutes to the stage winner and falling to 23rd place overall.
Following the retirement of Lance Armstrong and the disqualification of the top contenders, it has been unusually hard to make sense out of the Tour, let alone guess who might win. With no clear leaders (in the sense of contenders) a number of top teams have been forced to improvise their strategies. (As for Landis, he clearly doesn't have a team that can protect him in the mountains.)
The Tour lacks a boss or
patron to impose order on the peleton (a role Armstrong filled over the last seven years), making it much harder to predict what will happen next.
Which suggests a metaphor for the current state of the world.
Back in 2003, the neocons pushing us into war in Iraq suggested that this bold move would galvanize the Middle East, promote democracy and get the region's headstong governments to behave. Like Lance Armstrong riding tall in the saddle, his fellow Texan in the White House would be the world's patron, imposing his will on the international scene.
But Bush is bonking and, as the
Washington Post reports, the neocons aren't happy at all:
Conservatives complain that the United States is hunkered down in Iraq without enough troops or a strategy to crush the insurgency. They see autocrats in Egypt and Russia cracking down on dissenters with scant comment from Washington, North Korea firing missiles without consequence, and Iran playing for time to develop nuclear weapons while the Bush administration engages in fruitless diplomacy with European allies. They believe that a perception that the administration is weak and without options is emboldening Syria and Iran and the Hezbollah radicals they help sponsor in Lebanon.
Where did the swagger go?
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who is considering a bid for president, called the administration's latest moves abroad a form of appeasement. "We have accepted the lawyer-diplomatic fantasy that talking while North Korea builds bombs and missiles and talking while the Iranians build bombs and missiles is progress," he said in an interview. "Is the next stage for Condi to go dancing with Kim Jong Il?" he asked, referring to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the North Korean leader.
"I am utterly puzzled," Gingrich added.
Kenneth Adelman, a Reagan administration arms-control official who is close to Vice President Cheney, said he believes foreign policy innovation for White House ended with Bush's second inaugural address, a call to spread democracy throughout the world.
"What they are doing on North Korea or Iran is what [Sen. John F.] Kerry would do, what a normal middle-of-the-road president would do," he said. "This administration prided itself on molding history, not just reacting to events. Its a normal foreign policy right now. It's the triumph of Kerryism."
To take charge as the peleton's patron and win the Tour de France requires endurance, smart strategy, a team that remains strong over the lang haul and the ability to win over allies along the way. Show weakness in any of those categories and things fall apart. Ask Floyd Landis.
To be the world's patron requires endurance, smart strategy, a team that remains strong over the lang haul and the ability to win over allies along the way. Show weakness in any of those categories and things fall apart. Ask George Bush.
Photo: AFP Photo


Blogger Dave said...

So what does Floyd coming back do to your analogy?

1:04 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

A fair question.

What Floyd Landis did today--bringing himself back to within 30 seconds of the yellow jersey--has to be one of the most astonishing performances in the history of cycling. It is not unheard of for a rider to mount such a breakaway, but usually it comes from a rider who has no chance of working his way into contention.

On most days cycling is a team sport, with the peleton bubbling over with shifting alliances and rivalries. But today Floyd Landis simply rode off leaving the peleton gasping in admiration.

It was a stirring display of indiviual prowess and determination--a rare instance when one man on a bike could simply outdistance the entire field. As for the international disorder we face, I am afraid that no individual act of heroism is likely to bring order to the chaos.

3:10 PM, July 20, 2006  

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