is a Two Way Street
September 24, 2001
During this crisis we've been hearing a lot about "unity"
and supporting the President. So okay, let's have unity. Who
are the enemies of unity?
When Bin Laden or whoever it was wanted to hit America where
it hurt, they attacked New York City. The constituents of
Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, Dick Armey, and Helen Chenoweth were
safe. That's why President Bush was sent to Nebraska.
The Republicans talk a lot bout the "Heartland" and "real
Americans" - in contrast to "you people" (Democrats). Our
little friend Andrew Sullivan just suggested that the "blue
areas" form a disloyal fifth column in the war against terrorism.
But it isn't the liberal Democrats that are saying that Bin
Laden was an instrument of God, punishing the U.S for its
sins. It's Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson - pillars of the
Republican party and big George W. Bush supporters. For years
the Christian right has been talking about New York and California
falling into the sea, and they weren't kidding. Like Bin Laden,
they want New York to disappear.
It wasn't liberals who took a cake and a Bible to the Ayatollah.
It wasn't liberals who sympathized with the Ayatollah's death
sentence on impious Salman Rushdie.
The man responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy
McVeigh, wasn't a liberal. The Congresswoman who said "Now
maybe people will listen" when she heard about this bombing
wasn't a liberal either; it was Idaho's Republican representative
Helen Chenoweth. (It was in Idaho that Claude Dallas became
a local hero by killing two federal agents).
It isn't liberals who have published a death threat against
George W. Bush (together with most of the Supreme Court).
It's the anti-abortion terrorists of the Nuremberg Files.
Anti-abortion terrorists have killed at least a dozen people
in recent years, but you never hear them called that in the
media. You hear a lot about "eco-terrorists" though.
It was Jesse Helms (R, NC) who relayed a military death threat
against President Clinton: "If he visits the military bases
down here, he should bring a bodyguard." There were no
consequences for Sen. Helms - he was just kidding (what a
The Republicans did not support any of President Clinton's
military actions: "I can support the troops without supporting
the President." (Trent Lott)
And when it looked like Gore might win the election, it was
the conservative Bill Kristol who stated his intention of
refusing to acknowledge his legitimacy. But when George W.
Bush won, we were all supposed to roll over for unity's sake.
I think we can safely conclude that the main source of disunity
in this country is the vehement, unremitting, and sometimes
quite murderous hatred of conservatives for liberals. But
there is an even deeper layer to this. The swing voter in
the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling awarding the Presidency, Anthony
Kennedy, finally made his decision because he feared that
a protracted recount and legal struggle would lead to civil
disorder. Since he didn't fear any that any disorder would
arise if the Presidency was awarded to Bush, obviously it
was the Republican goon squads who decided the question. Is
So anyway, I'm in favor of unity. I expect a war and I don't
expect a short war (I hope I'm wrong!). Where are we going
to get this unity?
First, Bush is going to have to get rid of quite a few of
his friends. He actually has made a nice start in distancing
himself from Falwell and Robertson, but he must be held to
this. And since these men and their believers have been an
integral part of the Republican party for twenty or more years
now, he's going to have to form some new alliances.
Second, he's going to have to drop all agendas not directly
related to the present crisis. His attempt to use his tainted
paper-thin victory to ram through a right-wing agenda was
questionable from the beginning. Now it is unconscionable.
On September 11 Bush dropped his international unilateralism
almost instantly. In the same way, he is going to have to
drop his domestic right-wing agenda, and really become the
moderate he was pretending to be.
Third, Bush's handlers are going to have to understand that
our agreement to pretend that Bush is competent to be President
is based on loyalty and is not to be taken literally. We should
make contact with the rational members of his inner circle
(Colin Powell is the only one I can think of) and explain
that our agreement to support him is conditional on his being
kept under control by his handlers.
Frankly, I don't think that this will be as hard as it sounds.
Even the most reactionary Republicans must be terrified by
the prospect of having GWB's hands on the controls in a time
like this (though of course, as with Reagan, many of them
are probably also tempted by the power they can gain if they
get control of GWB's mind.
A final thought on Unity. If President Bush actually believes
in Unity, he should make a speech stating loud and clear that,
for him, New York City (and even San francisco!) is also a
part of the Heartland.