by Elizabeth R. Albertson
I never thought I'd say this, but in one regard I can sympathize
with George W. Bush. Hey, Your Fraudulency - I feel your pain.
They've misunderestimated me, too. The mainstream media and
all the politicos inside the Beltway seem to have misapprehended
the size of the outrage in the country. Again.
During the Clinton impeachment extravaganza, the media and
the Republicans were relentless in their hounding of the president.
Now, I'm not going to defend Clinton's extracurricular activities.
I don't have to; I'll let Bob Barr, Newt Gingrich, and Henry
Hyde do that. The punditocracy and those one can only loosely
refer to as journalists, said we were outraged. And then looked
at us expectantly.
Oh sure, we were a little cheesed off that he used the Oval
Office to get, er, serviced, by an intern. It was tacky, and
we figured Hillary had the right to kick his butt. We thought
it was a bit icky that Clinton was old enough to be Lewinsky's
father, and that there are questionable power politics in
play whenever the boss and the employee get it on, especially
when the boss is the Big Boss of the whole damn country. We
shuddered when the Starr Report went digital. (I did not read
it. I don't need to know that much about anyone's sex life
unless I plan to sleep with them, and even then I don't need
to know about stains on dresses.) And we all gradually realized…
what did this have to do with Whitewater? Or any other actual
crimes? You know, what Starr was supposed to investigate?
We began to see that it was a Special Prosecutor power-trip
run amok, enabled by the right wing's slavering hunger for
We were tired of it. Really tired. We wanted it over. But
contrary to Republican plan, we didn't blame Clinton for this
"national nightmare." We blamed the media. We blamed Starr
and Tripp. We blamed the Congress that wouldn't let it go.
And so Clinton's approval ratings soared. We failed to be
outraged on cue. We confounded their expectations by responding
in a rational manner.
And now it's happened again.
According to the media, we're not angry. No, we're not. No,
we're NOT. Okay, maybe the black people are. Maybe the "fringe"
people are. You know, those unstable radicals who think they
have the right to vote, or exist. Women, blacks, gays, Jews,
liberals, Democrats, students, the working-class… you know,
those people so far outside the mainstream. Pesky ingrates.
There's only a few of them. Nevermind that a grassroots internet
movement with no big-name leaders or centralized funding brought
thousands to protest at the Inauguration. We'll just point
the camera over here towards those nice people in fur coats
and cowboy hats… and surely those radicals will get over it
Inside the Beltway, both Republicans and Democrats are living
in their own little world again. This time, when we're enraged,
they're oblivious. They want us to get over it. Because the
theft of Democracy isn't of as much national import as some
consensual oral sex. The Republicans actually want the country
to rally around their boy, and the Dems to show a "bipartisan"
spirit by not pointing out the flaws in his programs and policies
or resisting even egregiously inappropriate nominees.
The Dems are saying, "We can't stand up to them. We made
a deal for very little power and influence, and we don't want
to ruin that! We have enough to filibuster, but don't ask
us to do it. It might make them mad. If we resist now, we
won't have the ammunition to resist later. Which we won't
do either. George invited us over for lunch! He nicknamed
Our last glimpse of true integrity and courage on the Hill
were the actions of the Congressional Black Caucus and others
who walked out on the vote certification when no Senator would
co-sign their objection to Florida's electoral votes. Senator
Kennedy showed some promise as a vocal and influential opponent
of Ashcroft, but he backed away from a filibuster because
the purported Democratic leadership didn't want him to do
it. I want to hope they're saving up for resisting right-wing
Supreme Court nominees, but I fear they've had jello implants
to the knees. They don't seem to realize their constituencies
are waiting for them to resist, and will turn on them if they
fail to represent us.
Along with the Congress, the media have misunderestimated
us. Again. It almost seems as if they're trying to guess wrong.
We're tired of an irrelevant subject and want to move on,
they're relentlessly obsessed with it. We're unshakably furious
at a dangerous breach of the country's core ideals, and they
think it's yesterday's news and probably never happened. "Why
bother telling people Florida counts now put Gore well ahead?
I mean, it's over, already. We're busy putting a positive
spin on state-funded religion, arch-conservative (read: Confederate)
cabinet nominees, tax cuts for the wealthy and environmental
destruction. Go away. Voter rights. Hah. Like anyone cares."
I'm not sure whether to hate the mainstream media or pity
them. Hate them for the unqualified idiot they helped anoint.
Hate them for their collective loss of journalistic integrity.
Hate them for parroting the lies and refusing to seek, see
or speak the truth. Hate them for being corporate mouthpieces.
Or pity them, because they will become obsolete. They have
forced the sensate from them in droves, and with the internet
and other alternative media ascendant, the mainstream media's
heretofore burgeoning influence is built on hollow ground.
They have the power now, and I don't think we have the power
to cause their downfall. Only they can do that. I just hope
it will be soon.
As I've said many times in the past couple months: I'm not
sure whether to be more afraid for my country, or more afraid
of my country.
2001, Elizabeth R. Albertson