Maturin42's Blog

Friday, July 02, 2004

What is Holding Him Up?

What is holding George W. Bush up? He is like Wiley Coyote after he runs off a cliff. He hangs in the air a few seconds.

I have engaged in a running dialog with my siblings over the last several months, in a, so far, less than successful attempt to convince them that George W. Bush's administration, aided and abetted by the Republican majority, is dangerous to American democracy and must be removed in November. I have been totally mystified by the attitudes I have run into, which, I understand from the polls that are announced almost daily, are still shared by about half of the citizens of the U. S.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that their viewpoint has practically nothing to do with agreement with what the Bush administration has done (or not done) in the 3.5 years they have been in office, but what they believe Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld ARE. Presented with unarguable facts about the Republican assaults on our institutions, they make excuses, or attack the source (left-wing media or a disgruntled employee), but don't challenge the facts.

I believe they have created the image of Bush according to what they want to see in their leader. They ignore the reality of the man and project on him a God-fearing, earnest, brave, down-home image that is created and sustained by a carefully prepared and controlled branding campaign by the marketeers who created and sustain this Presidency.

I have repeatedly asked them, but I have yet to hear them offer any substantive defense of the current administration's actions or policies, or their many flagrant breaches of acceptable political conduct. (See 1, below, for a partial enumeration) Comebacks usually consist of slams against Democrats in general and John Kerry, in particular, expressing a general distaste for the man.

I don't know any of my siblings who would agree with or defend many of these actions or measures implemented by the administration and their Congressional allies. Yet they defend the President and his party and excuse them.

It's like the news interview of a person who, upon hearing of a neighbor who has been revealed to be a serial killer, describes him as a "nice guy".

Although the persistence of this attitude is puzzling among otherwise rational people, I believe I know one factor. When I can bring myself to listen for a 5 minute stretch (that is the absolute limit I can stand) to the daily bloviating of the right-wing talk parade of convicted or potentially convicted felons that comprise the bulk of that parade, I believe that they are the ones who have institutionalized rationalization of the indefensible and partisanship in the face of overwhelming evidence of misdeeds and lies that would have had Bill Clinton's head on a pike. Their daily recitation of half-truths, outright lies, and distortions, all from the same list of talking points, utterly bereft of any honest analysis or debate, has made it respectable to disregard evidence that a point of view is just wrong. Fox news can offer "analysis" of wildly distorted "facts" without challenge because there is no need to offer any countervailing viewpoint. The "uniter, not a divider" has produced a nation that is so polarized the public discourse takes place in two parallel stovepipes that never encounter each other. We have grown accustomed to discussions between the far right and the not-quite-as-far right, sometimes with a tame, nominal "liberal" thrown into the mix as a punching bag (see Alan Colmes). This passes for balance and fairness in the world of cable news and political mud wrestling shows. One can hardly blame the average viewer or listener from coming away with the idea that the left is out of ideas and has no answer to the Hannity's Ann Coulters or Laura Ingrahams. You have to work pretty hard to dial up Air America or, and stay near your computer to listen to any ideas left of center in most markets. This may change, and there is some evidence that it is slowly changing, but the dialog will still take place in parallel stovepipes, with the audience seeking those they agree with already.

Bill Clinton was, to some people, one kind of person, therefore his one documented lie to the American people was a matter rising to high crimes and misdemeanors, even though it only affected his private life. George W. Bush, being another kind of person, and his administration have told 237 (at last count) documented lies about Iraq < > and they get a pass from Congress and the American people.

Because to his base, he is a good man, with a good heart, and he is defending us against "terrists", and besides, conservative = good, liberal = bad. Everything else is just details. Despite mounting evidence that our middle east policy, and its manifestation in Iraq, can only be described as inept, a majority of Americans feel that Mr. Bush is better to lead us against terrorism than John Kerry.

The latter has demonstrated exceptional moral strength in standing up for his convictions, as well as physical courage under fire. Our President demonstrated only a willingness to take advantage of family and social advantages to avoid any obligations, and a positive talent at finding investor after investor among his father's friends and those currying favor with the 41st president to grow a fortune based on business deals (some that would have made Martha Stewart green with envy) with nary a profit in sight.

I am aware of similar attitudes exhibited in the past by "yellow dog Democrats" who refused to consider an alternative to tax-spend-elect politics so often identified with that party, so it isn't confined to Republicans. But I get the uncomfortable feeling that with the capture of the public airwaves by the right that a sea change has occurred in the way America carries on political discourse.

While I understand that distortions of the public debate occur during election years, I can't even begin to understand an intellect (or moral compass) that looks at John Kerry's military record and George W. Bush's non-record and say that the guy who showed physical and moral bravery, recognized by multiple awards for heroism under fire and demonstrated by unpopular opposition to a war that almost all now agree was a huge mistake, can somehow be found wanting in leadership qualities when compared with the scion of a powerful politician who failed to even meet the minimal attendance obligations of the "Champagne Unit" of the Texas ANG, and whose sole act of leadership that bears any scrutiny consists of his standing on smoking rubble and swearing revenge through a bull horn. Staying the course with a man who led (or lied) us into the middle of a swamp, with no plan or apparent idea how to get us out seems the height of folly.

The stakes of this election are no less than the soul of America. There have been pivotal elections before in our history, but it is hard to come up with one on which more of our freedom and our fortune is at stake. If the Bush administration would play so recklessly with our world reputation, the lives of our troops, and the future of our environment when they are faced with running for reelection, what will they do when they have no need to moderate those policies in preparation for a new election?

It is hard to imagine.

(1) A partial list of the transgressions of the Bush II administration and his Republican allies.
* Pressing for round after round of "tax cuts" that offer chump change to middle class Americans, while lavishing huge windfalls to the top 1% of Americans, even when it became clear that by doing so, the move would produce budget deficits as far as the eye can see and our children and grandchildren would be paying them back, while simultaneously telling us that we have no choice but to cut social security and medicare benefits.
* Egregiously retrograde environmental policies and repeated appointments to oversight positions in watchdog agencies of lobbyists representing the economic interests seeking to overthrow the protections to our water, air, and natural resources.
* Their policies on energy, developed in secrecy and apparently with participation or domination by the likes of Ken Lay, selling out the security of the country to big oil, coal, and nuclear.
* Their horrific Medicare "reform" that amounted to an implementation of the wish list of the pharmaceutical and insurance industry and use of the taxpayer's money to "sell" this package to us in thinly disguised political commercials for the incumbent President.
* The threatening and intimidation of the chief Medicare actuary to prevent him from disclosing, prior to passage of the bill, that the actual cost of the Medicare reform bill would not be $395 billion but $155 billion more than that, which would have rendered it unacceptable to the the few real conservatives left in the Republican-dominated Congress, had they known.
* The wee hour arm-twisting and outright bribery and extortion of members of congress to get the Medicare bill passed.
* Their march to an ill-advised war, with a case that has fallen apart under the facts and the weakness of which were apparent to many - some in the administration - prior to the war.
* Their treasonous "outing" of Valerie Plame for partisan revenge against her diplomat husband for telling the truth counter to a mendacious lie by the President in the state of the Union message.
* The inexplicable reaction of Mr. Bush in the classroom on 9/11 to the news that we were under attack, in which, with the full knowledge that we were undoubtedly under attack, he continued with a photo op, asking questions of the children about the story about a pet goat.
* Their massive no-bid giveaways to cronies in Halliburton, Bechtel, and the Carlyle group amid myriad conflicts of interests and mounting evidence of war profiteering.
* Continued cover-up and denial of the Sept. 13 Saudi Airlift which spirited 140-160 prominent Saudis and members of the Bin Laden family out of the country with the obvious (but denied and uninvestigated) complicity of the highest authorities in the land, when even charter transportation for a heart for a transplant patient was being denied permission to fly.
* The institutionalization of war profiteering by cronies and political sponsors by privatizing everything in sight related to logistical support of the troops.
* Appointment of a fundamentalist religious zealot to the office of Attorney General of the United States, whose stated law enforcement priorities appear more driven by the agenda of the religious right than the constitution or threats to our safety or well-being.
* Our President's inexplicably resistance to answering questions before a 9/11 commission he was practically forced to appoint to investigate the worst security lapse in our modern history.
* His refusal to appear before that commission without his VP by his side, and not under oath.
* Stonewalling of the Commission on their request for documents relevant to the investigation, even those from the Clinton White House turned over and released by the Clinton administration to the Bush White House.
* Refusal of his "team of adults" to consider plans for the post-invasion Iraq drawn up by professional planners, including the Army War College, that would have avoided many of the difficulties encountered by the occupation forces.
* Their claims prior to eventual release, that the report of 6 August, 2001, to the President entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U. S." had nothing to do with terrorists planning to strike in the U. S.
* Steamrolling and forced retirement of senior professional military leaders who disagreed with the neo-conservative chicken-hawks' wishful thinking on Iraq (Gen. Shinseki, Army; Gen. Anthony Zenni, USMC).
* One insider after another stepping forward and telling the world through books and essays the nature of this Presidency, from the incurious attitude of the commander-in-chief to the almost complete absence of substantive discussions of policy, to outright breaches of constitutional authority ($700 million diverted from the war in Afghanistan to prepare in secret for the invasion of Iraq).
* Failure of the president to consult with even his own senior staff prior to deciding to launching a preemptive war for the first time in our history.
* Producing a tax code that taxes people who live off the proceeds of wealth - stock dividends at a lower rate than ordinary working Americans.
* In the name of anti-terrorism, rendering us vulnerable to countless acts of additional terrorism, by fulfilling the predictions of the still-at-large leader of the terrorism effort, by invading an oil-rich Arab country without provocation.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home