A second Bush term? Simply
October 25, 2003
By D.G. Bowman
Above 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 democracy.
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.