Pushing Them Off the Precipice of Power
February 14, 2006
By Bernard Weiner, The
Bush Administration these days is like a sickly iceberg. The insides
are weakened by moral rot, and the outside walls are thinning because
of the heat they're taking. As the Bush iceberg suffers yet another
scandal and embarrassing revelation, every so often another huge
chunk breaks off and crashes into the political sea.
In short, the once-solid Republican iceberg is melting and falling
Polls are showing Bush sinking lower and lower in national approval
ratings. CIA insiders are revealing yet more embarrassing details
about Bush & Co.'s pre-war fiddling
with the truth. GOP senators are joining Democrats opposing
Bush's attempt to rob them of their co-equal power in our checks-and-balances
system of government. More evidence is surfacing of how the White
House knew immediately what was going down in post-Katrina
New Orleans, but did nothing and thousands died or barely escaped.
The Abramoff influence-peddling and bribery scandals are getting
closer and closer to the Oval Office. More lies and deceptions are
being revealed here and in England about how Bush and Cheney raced
to war with Iraq; Rove (and
perhaps Cheney) are closer to being fully unmasked by Patrick
Fitzgerald's special-counsel probes. More statistical and other
evidence is coming to light about electoral
fraud in key states, and on and on.
The question is no longer whether the Bush Administration will
implode and be forced to disappear before 2008, but when. By their
unconscionable actions and thorough-going incompetence, they find
themselves perched ever so perilously on a political cliff; our
job is to build enough united oppositional force to help them over
A TRUE OPPOSITION PARTY
To accomplish this task, the Democrats, of course, need to gather
strength and remain united against Bush's atrocious policies and
misbehaviors - in short, behaving as a true Opposition Party should.
But it's clear that the strongest impetus for impeachment or resignation
must come from the Republicans. More and more of them are beginning
to see the handwriting on the wall: not only is the Bush Administration
endangering the United States with its policies and corruptions,
but, perhaps more importantly for them, their re-election chances
are badly damaged by being associated with these incompetent, reckless,
arrogant extremists - and, this time out, they aren't sure they
can count on, or get away with, any fiddling with the vote-tabulations.
Major conservative media, legislative and business leaders - some
of whom are beginning to make noises along these lines - may well
decide to cut their losses by urging Bush and Cheney to resign.
Or, prior to November, they may start leaning toward impeachment
hearings, along with their Democratic counterparts.
Sure, what I'm speculating about may not take place, at least
not as quickly as my scenario imagines. There are so many perks
associated with being the majority party in Congress in league with
an Administration of the same party. It wouldn't be easy to give
that up. But, by the same token, wanting to stay in power may provide
more incentive for the Congressional GOP to get the Bush/Cheney
albatross from around their necks.
FLYING ON FUMES
Were it not so tragic, it would be almost pitiable to watch Bush
& Co. flailing these days, trying anything to bring those poll numbers
back up. But, the truth is, their political larder is virtually
bare. Whatever political capital they once thought they had has
long been spent; they're running on credit (and anxiety) now. Or,
put another way, they're flying on political fumes.
And so, they're hauling out the only thing that has worked for
them for the past five years: fear. It's not called that, of course
(it goes by the names of "national security" and "war on terrorism"),
but we all know that's what it is. Their aim is to frighten just
enough American citizens to eke out a "victory" in November - as
they claimed to have done in 2000 and 2004 (ignoring the likelihood
of electoral fraud). If they can pull another electoral rabbit out
of the hat, they will feel politically secure for the final two
years of Bush's term, and somewhat insulated from the possibility
of being held accountable for their sins of commission and omission,
especially through the impeachment process.
The NSA domestic-spying scandal is one case in point. It seems
clear, just judging from the ferocity of their determination not
to let anyone know the actual dimensions of what they've been up
to for four years, that they are concealing something truly monstrous
and dangerous to their continued rule.
WHAT THEY LIKELY ARE HIDING
Since al-Qaida terrorists long ago figured out they'd better stop
using telephones and emails, that "something" probably has to do
with illegally surveilling and monitoring the communications of
American citizens who oppose aspects of Bush's program and policies,
perhaps including key Democratic leaders. Such blatantly illegal
behavior doomed Nixon's presidency, and if my suppositions are correct,
could take down Bush's administration as well if the full truth
were to be revealed. (You may remember that the Supreme Court blasted
apart Nixon's assertion that actions taken by the President ipso
facto are always legal.)
Even though the Bush Bunker crew is greatly weakened and harassed,
they still control the organs of authority in this country - with
most of the corporate-owned mass-media still doing their bidding
- and they seem willing to do whatever is required to keep themselves
in power. Cornered beasts are at their most dangerous in such trapped
To save themselves, they are not averse to pushing the country
into a Constitutional crisis - with their discredited theory that
the president, when acting in his capacity as "commander in chief,"
can violate whatever laws he wants, without having to face any meaningful
opposition from the Legislative and Judicial branches. And now,
in cahoots with their Mideast ally Israel, the Busheviks are moving
to attack at least one more country, probably air-dropped bombs
and missiles aimed at damaging Iran's fledgling atomic facilities,
thus setting back their nuclear programs at least a decade. (Don't
forget that in 1981 Israel bombed Iraq's fledgling nuclear program,
effectively shutting it down for decades.)
REPEATING MISTAKES WITH IRAN
The scenario that got the U.S. bogged down in Iraq is likely to
be repeated here. Iran, ruled by an isolated, arrogant president,
is not now even close to being an imminent threat; experts agree
that it would take Iran a minimum of three to five years to achieve
nuclear-threat capability. And, even if one were to agree that Iran
had to be confronted, there is plenty of time for diplomacy and
threats of sanctions to work and/or to organize the world community
if and when such a threat does get closer to military reality. But
the Bush Administration, despite the fact that U.S. troops are stretched
to the breaking point in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems determined
to act unilaterally anyway, perhaps using Israel as its proxy. We
are the one remaining Superpower, get out of our way.
And, as in Iraq, Bush & Co. seems unconcerned about the short-term
and long-term consequences of such an attack. For example, the neo-cons
in control of the Administration's foreign and military policy seem
to believe, as they did when planning the war on Iraq, that the
local population will support such a move and maybe even try to
overthrow the ruling mullahs. The more likely prospect is a united
front of Iranians against the attacking "infidels." Nor have the
Busheviks taken into account Muslim sensibilities around the world,
or the law of unintended consequences after an attack is launched
on another Islamic state. The likely result might be Iran's refusal
(and perhaps other Muslim countries as well) to sell oil to the
U.S., which could cause incalculable chaos in America and trigger
economic depression in the West in general.
But the Bush Administration will have its attack. With its hardened
military bases next door in Iraq, and Iran (or any other nation)
unable to prevent a massive attack from the air, it feels the time
is right. And it just so happens that such an attack - pure "coincidence,"
of course - will precede a midterm election in the United States.
"Don't change horses in the middle of a war" will be the GOP meme;
rally 'round the flag, boys.
Some posit that so desperate are the Bush forces to regain the
trust and support of the American population that there might be
another claimed domestic "terrorist attack" in the works that the
Bush folks will tell us they nipped in the bud before it happened,
much like their unverified claim that they supposedly broke up a
terrorist plot in Los Angeles years ago. Or conceivably, that they
will choose to look the other way again, similar to their pre-9/11
behavior, and allow such a terrorist incident to happen, to hype
the fear factor.
In short, friends, even or especially in this period when Bush
& Co. are taking blow after blow to the body and head, I'm scared.
Both because of what Karl Rove might have in store for us in the
near-term but, in case his tactics were to work, also at what lies
ahead for America in the long-term. Whatever it is, it ain't going
to be pretty.
OUR JOB IN THE OPPOSITION
So what do we do while the Bush machine grows increasingly more
self-destructive? Stand aside and let the White House and their
GOP cronies destroy themselves, and take the economy and political
system down with them? Imitate their smash-mouth politics and cut-throat
tactics? Neither approach would seem to be the answer.
Our job, it seems to me, is clear. We need to do everything within
our power to create a reconstituted "Movement" and an effective
opposition party to forcefully (often with creative humor) counter
the Bush & Co. machine, a Movement with a built-in set of moral
principles and practical, helpful actions. Doing so might well attract
more moderate Republicans, independents, Libertarians, anti-Big
Brother activists and the like.
While we're building the grassroots opposition and launching our
creative campaign to educate the populace, we must simultaneously
aim toward taking at least one of the Houses of Congress away from
the GOP toadies who provide the legislative shock troops for Bush
& Co. That means supporting courageous progressive candidates in
the primaries and, if they don't win, anyone who is not Republican,
even if they don't line up fully with our progressive agenda.
The aim, the only aim, is to break the lock Bush & Co. have on
virtually all the levers of power in this country. Removing GOP
control of the House, for example, would have the practical effect
of giving the Democrats subpoena power to force the appearance of
Administration witnesses, to obtain documents, to prepare impeachment
Finally, our job is to agitate for and publicize the need for
honest, transparent election processes; we may have to take election
officials to court in state after state. We cannot permit the continued
outsourcing of election vote-tabulation to private corporations
who are ideological bedfellows with Bush&Co., and who, it has been
demonstrated time and time again, easily can (and probably did)
manipulate the computer tallies without anyone being the wiser.
If we can mobilize the electorate so as to generate huge leads
in the pre-election polls, and if we can restore exit-polling to
its rightful place in the process, vote-manipulation probably can
be spotted easily and thus kept to a minimum.
We must activate our energies and prepare the table for a Republican
defeat of huge, super-majority proportions in November. But unless
we can ensure honest voting procedures, and non-corrupted vote-counting,
that balloting will count for nought; there will be no social progress
and our country will move even further into becoming a militarized,
one-party, neo-fascist state. That's it in a nutshell. And that's
what must motivate our Movement to help return us to an America
of which we all can be proud.
Bernard Weiner has taught at various universities, worked as
a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently
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