Bush term? Simply unfathomable
By D.G. Bowman
the empty vapor that is President Bush swirls the incredulity
of those rational Americans who simply cannot fathom how anybody
aside from war profiteers, religious fanatics, corporate vultures
and environmental predators could possibly vote for the re-election
of such a dangerously unsuitable man.
How could such a thing happen? How could this incurious fraud
get another four years (unless it's behind bars)? It defies
the norms of civility and reasonableness. It beggars the imagination.
Yet the possibility hovers above us, terrifyingly so. Does
the deadly (not to mention immoral and illegal) occupation
of Iraq mean nothing? Does the looting of the Treasury send
no signal? Does the breathtaking assault on our air and water
and natural spaces fail to resonate? There's plenty to be
alarmed about, and there's plenty of ammunition, but not enough
bells are jangling.
And what about the pretender himself? Vindictive, pampered,
childish, petty, semi-literate -- surely not the sort of man
who should be leading the world's lone superpower. Yet there
he sits, a poster boy for nepotism, smirking and strutting
and playing Napoleon, despoiling the office that rightly belongs
to the honorable Al Gore. Do we not want someone in the Oval
Office who is engaged in the drama around him, who appreciates
history and culture and nuance, who doesn't feel the need
to play dress-up on a flight deck or burnish a faux cowboy
image at a stage-managed Texas "ranch"? Have our presidential
standards really sunk this low?
We wonder, slack-jawed, at what is wrong with that other
half of the populace. Are they too much in the grip of Wal-Mart
and NASCAR and "Joe Millionaire" to appreciate what's happening
right under their noses? Has the oft-lamented "dumbing down"
of America really hit bottom? At the other pole, has the Darwinian
detachment of our haughty rich really become that entrenched?
Do they really want society's safety net shredded for good?
No wonder Europe shakes its collective head.
We have numbers. We have facts. We know that more than half
the nation voted for the other candidate in 2000, and we know
that theft occurred. The laundry list of Bush's offenses is
plain to see, and it continues to grow -- as does the body
count from Iraq. Yet an alarming number of our fellow citizens
still cling to the fantastic notion that he is an exemplar
of "Christian" kindness, honesty and decency, when in truth
he is nothing of the sort. He is among the greatest charlatans
in American political history -- perhaps the greatest.
The fact he's abetted by a fawning press corps makes his guy-next-door
facade all the more infuriating, not to mention nauseating.
The cognitive disconnect surrounding George Dubya straddles
all segments of society, from blue-collar Joe Sixpack to Mr.
and Mrs. Struggling Middle Class to (not surprising, considering
how Junior's economic policies benefit them alone) Mr. and
Mrs. Gilded Fat Cat. The atmosphere in Bush's America is Orwellian
to the extreme; it's as if we're living in a mirrored universe,
where war is peace, desecration is conservation and bankruptcy
is prosperity. It's as if Pod People have sprung up among
us, people with bared fangs, people with no empathy for their
fellow beings, people egged on by raging, venomous GOP hypocrites
such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. Sadly,
they include our friends and relatives, people who should
know better. What do they want? Why do they support this destructive
little man? Money? Religion? Tax cuts and Armageddon?
Don't rich folks also need clean air and water?
One can blame the cheerleading corporate media, of course
-- the sad truth is the Fourth Estate has indeed gone from
tenacious watchdog to obsequious lapdog -- but I suspect it
goes deeper than that. Any reasonably intelligent American
can get the truth about Junior's right-wing radicalism simply
by reading or listening to alternative news sources. When
presented with the facts, though, Bush's True Believers do
what the administration's neo-cons did when presented with
intelligence that didn't square with their Iraq invasion plans:
They blame the messenger. They get surly and defensive. With
their binary mind-set and rigid "moral" codes, they neatly
parcel things into "us" vs. "them." "Good" vs. "evil." "Patriot"
vs. "traitor." It's myopic and messianic, and it defies all
logic and common sense.
One might take solace in the possibility that those who voted
for Junior three years ago thinking he was a moderate "uniter"
now see through his extremism, and will opt for ABB (anybody
but Bush) the next time around. Such a turnaround will have
to be substantial, however, because of the very real threat
of GOP-engineered vote fraud -- just one more thing to worry
about in the Age of Dubya and Co.
This is a tired topic, of course, but we're a tired nation,
groaning under the yoke of the Bush juggernaut. Much of what
I've said here has been vented elsewhere, but I think it bears
repeating. Get up on your rooftop and start shouting. Keep
sending articles to that stubborn co-worker. Keep on talking
to that hoodwinked friend or sibling. Unless we convince our
fellow Americans -- the ones who aren't at the coddled top
of the economic ladder, and the ones who don't let blind religiosity
cloud their thinking -- that this bumbling patrician in cowpoke
clothing is dangerous not only to them but to their grandchildren's
future, then we truly are finished as the world's oldest representative
We've been warned, and amply so. As the saying goes, we'll
get what we deserve.
D.G. Bowman, a former longtime editor at The Seattle Times,
is a writer and editor in Waikoloa, Hawaii. He detailed his
gradual and empowering transformation from Republican to Democrat
in the October 2001 issue of The Washington Monthly. Abraham
Lincoln - "who would probably sue the current GOP for the
slanderous use of his name" - remains his favorite American
president. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.