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The Only Thing We Have to Fear
February 25, 2003
By Sheila Samples

"No man can concentrate his attention upon evil, or even upon the idea of evil, and remain unaffected. To be more against the devil than for God is exceedingly dangerous. Every crusader is apt to go mad. He is haunted by the wickedness which he attributes to his enemies; it becomes in some sort a part of him." - Aldous Huxley, "The Devils of Loudon"

Something about George W. Bush has bothered me since he swaggered up from Texas three years ago and - unlike any other presidential candidate wannabe - called a closed-door meeting of the entire GOP congressional membership. Appearing literally out of nowhere, Bush, a nondescript governor who had presided over but two legislative sessions in his political life, emerged from that little get-together the Republican candidate for president in 2000.

Doesn't that strike you as a bit strange? What promises could this political tyro make to bring an entire party to its knees - where it remains to this day? Even more perplexing is the nagging question: What visions of rewards would compel an entire contingent of national media to collectively kick Bush's considerable personal baggage from the airplane door on his campaign flight to the White House?

In the years since that surreal 2000 campaign and uncontested presidential coup de'etat, the answer hovered just beyond my peripheral vision - like a dancer practicing in the wings whose flitting movement mars my enjoyment of the ballet unfolding on center stage. Little of it made sense. All of it defied logic. Because, if you look at Bush, or "Dubya," logically, you see a pampered, impatient, unempathetic manipulative sociopath with an astonishing sense of his own entitlement. You see a 56-year-old man who was - by his own admission - a bumbling, falling-down drunk until the age of 40. This means, if you're following the logic - and doing the math - that our Dubya is scarcely older than 16.

So, it's only logical that Dubya didn't make promises to his party that day on the Hill. He brought promises. Like a front man for Ray Bradbury's diabolical carnival, Dubya brought dizzying dream-come-true promises from a tangle of Iran-Contra zealots and greedy corporate toadies from the four corners of industrial America. Promises from a fantastical, well-organized troupe which had been practicing in the wings for eight long years and was poised to retake center stage at the first opportunity.

Logic tells us that the arrogant Dubya, bristling with a reputation of riding shotgun in Poppy's campaigns where his penchant for discipline and revenge earned him the nickname "The Enforcer" backed up those promises with threats. Very real, black-and-white threats from a gang so committed to gaining control of the world's vast resources and establishing a new world order that they had an outline of the plan ready to go in 1992 when Poppy was anticipating re-election.

That manifesto, "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For A New Century," was the brainchild of then defense secretary Dick Cheney, who is now Dubya's feral vice president. Cheney drew on the power-mad expertise of Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and others such as William Kristol, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (Cheney chief of staff) and Dubya's younger brother Jeb, to flesh out the plan, which they lovingly honed and perfected throughout the eight years of the Clinton presidency. They were all there then, and they're all here now, performing on center stage. All but Cheney, who orchetrates the promulgation of his grandoise doctrine of world domination from shadowy undisclosed recesses in the bowels of the nation's capital.

Oh, yes. Threats. Very real indeed. To the victor goes the spoils. You're either with us or you're against us. Something wicked this way comes. Good or Evil - your choice.

I'd like to think those Republicans who so blindly embraced Dubya on that fateful day believed their choice was "Good." I'd like to, but logic precludes me from going there. Their political souls must have seemed a small price to pay for an opportunity to vent their rage at liberals who had ruled America for too many years - especially the "Dandelion-Wine" years of Clinton-Gore, wherein undeserving hordes rushed to clamber aboard the Ship of State. But the choice was far too easy to be Good (it always is, you know) and - like Dubya is fond of saying - it has "consequences." All of us are now struggling to live with those evil consequences. Some of us will die.

Dubya is the perfect foil for this evil group. The media tells us he is cute, bold and charming - a compassisonate conservative and born-again evangelical Christian. What's not to like? For them at least, Dubbie's a real blow-in-my-ear-and-I'll-follow-you-anywhere kind of guy. There are those of us, however, who remember the mindless, casual cruelty of Dubya's twisted snicker as he mocked a helpless Karla Faye Tucker when, from the grim death row of Texas, she had begged for her life. We remember the obvious enjoyment he got from bullying someone too weak to fight back. Some of us not only remember - we cannot forget.

Every time I see Dubya's face I am reminded that the best place for evil to hide is right out there in plain sight. It ventured out at first, with the shredding of treaties abroad and of regulations at home - taking Karla-Faye baby steps - causing a slight chill that reverberated noiselessly across the land. Then, for nine months, emboldened by the nervous laughter of the media and the silence of the citizenry, it stomped crazily about - working in the shadows and out of public view - relentlessly pillaging the treasury, raping the environment, and trashing the social safety net designed to rescue those most vulnerable among us.

It was all so illogical. This shouldn't be happening, I kept telling myself. Why is he here? Why do the people of this great nation not recognize evil when it is advancing from all sides - when it is ripping and tearing at the entrails of the body politick, when the poor, the elderly, the children are being wounded - all in the name of God? But then it was too late, for 9-11 was upon us and the walls of our world came crashing down. We were jerked violently awake only to stare, transfixed, into the very heart of evil - into a trifecta of terror, chaos and destruction.

But Dubya - renewed, revived - rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the innocent, obsessed with righteous revenge. He launched a crusade to personally rid the world not only of evildoers, but of the mighty force of evil itself. Dubya was transformed overnight from a juvenile, crude and vindictive playground bully to a juvenile, crude and vindictive global bully. And the people crouched - still crouch - in terror at his feet-offering their freedoms in return for protection, wearing their flags like shrouds. Those who dare question the madness of abandoning the search for 9-11 perps in favor of "protecting US interests" by disposing of all who disagree with us are subdued by the war-crazed media which uses White House talking points like a bullwhip. We are lashed with new, terrifying threats at a pace that allows no relief from the horror. None specific. None substantiated. Just terrifying.

It amazes me how easily we accept Dubya's "either-or" logic of Good versus Evil. We are Good. Those who are against us are Evil. Therefore, we must destroy Evil before it destroys us. We scarcely noticed his transformation from a trusting Child of God to an Agent of God's wrath to an Angel of Death with the responsibility of punishing every wrongdoer on the face of the earth. In his own words...

"We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of this great nation."

"An attack on Iraq would be in the highest moral traditions of our country."

"Saddam Hussein could strike without notice and inflict massive and sudden horror on America."

"There is no defense against the hidden network of cold-blooded killers."

"We will liberate the people of Iraq from a cruel and violent dictator."

"We will show other dictators that the path of aggression will lead to their own ruin."

"The game is over. The day of freedom is drawing near."

It's only logical that President Franklin D. Roosevelt must have been prescient in his memorable inaugural address 70 years ago. Else how could he have known we would wake up one day and realize, too late, that - the only thing we have to fear is here, Himself....

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and former US Army Public Information Officer.

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