Wednesday, November 03, 2004
If we believed in dwelling on the failures of the past we would certainly link to this column by Arianna Huffington. But because we are, as anyone will tell you, among the most cockeyed of optimists in this crazy caravan, we choose instead to look to the future. From Sidney Blumenthal in the Guardian, via our distinguished colleague Michael Miller of Public Domain Progress:
While Kerry ran on mainstream traditions of international cooperation and domestic investments, and transparency and rationality as essential to democratic government, Bush campaigned directly against these very ideas. At his rallies, Bush was introduced as standing for "the right God". During the closing weeks, Bush and Cheney ridiculed internationalism, falsifying Kerry's statement about a "global test". They disdained Kerry's internationalism as effeminate, unpatriotic, a character flaw, and elitist. "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," Cheney derided in every speech. They grafted imperial unilateralism on to provincial isolationism. Fear of the rest of the world was to be mastered with contempt for it.And, from David Corn in The Nation:
This was linked to what is euphemistically called "moral values", which is social and sexual panic over the rights of women and gender roles. Only imposing manly authority against "girly men" and girls and lurking terrorists can save the nation. Above all, the exit polls showed that "strong leader" was the primary reason Bush was supported.
Brought along with Bush is a gallery of grotesques in the Senate: more than one new senator advocates capital punishment for abortion; another urges that all gay teachers be fired; yet another is suffering from obvious symptoms of Alzheimer's. The new majority is more theocratic than Republican, as Republican was previously understood; the defeat of the old moderate Republican party is far more decisive than the loss by the Democrats. There are no checks and balances.
The terminal illness of chief justice William Rehnquist signals new appointments to the supreme court that will alter law for more than a generation. Conservative promises to dismantle constitutional law since the New Deal will be acted upon. Roe v Wade will be overturned and abortion outlawed.
Now without constraints, Bush can pursue the dreams he has campaigned for - the use of US military might to bring God's gift of freedom to the world with no more global tests and at home the enactment of the imperatives of "the right God". The international system of collective security forged in the second world war and tempered in the cold war is a thing of the past. The Democratic party, despite its best efforts, has failed to rein in the radicalism sweeping the country. The world is in an emergency, but also irrelevant. The New World, with all its power and might, stepping forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old? Goodbye to all that.
The good news: America is a divided nation. Despite the pundit hand-wringing over this fact, it is a positive thing. Nearly--nearly--half of the electorate rejected Bush's leadership, his agenda, his priorities, his falsehoods. From Eminem to the chairman of Bank of America to 48 Nobel laureates to gangbangers who joined anti-Bush get-out-the-vote efforts in swing states. Nearly half of the voting public concluded that Bush had caused the deaths of over 1,100 American GIs and literally countless Iraqis (maybe 100,000) for no compelling reason. Nearly half saw the emperor buck naked and butt ugly. Nearly half said no to his rash actions and dishonest justifications. Nearly half realized that Bush had misrepresented the war in Iraq as a crucial part of the effort against al Qaeda and Islamic jihadism. Nearly half desired better and more honest leadership. Nearly half knew that Bush has led the country astray.
Other good news: Second-term presidents often hit the skids. The last three second- terms were marked by scandal (Watergate, Iran-contra, Monicagate). And as top officials sprint through the revolving door to snag high-paying jobs (while their contacts are fresh), the job of running the government during the second administration often falls to the B Team. In the post-9/11 world, this is not all that reassuring. But the historical trend does suggest that Bush will have trouble enacting his various schemes. Yet--let's be realistic--the Senate results indicate that the GOP will expand its majority in the Senate, which means Bush will have more allies for his wrongheaded missions.
More good news; Bush will not be able to hand off his own wreckage--Iraq and the gargantuan deficit--to a new man. But this does not mean he will accept responsibility and deal with it. Bush has the ability to deny and defy reality. And if he cannot see that the trash has piled up, he will not be hauling it to the curb.
Okay, no more good news. I can't stand all this good news. Bush has bamboozled and frightened just enough Americans to gain the opportunity to flimflam them for another four years. And the rest of the country--and the globe--will be along for the dangerous ride.