Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Facing The Tank

In little more than a year, George Walker Bush will leave the White House after eight years that have badly rattled what faith I had in the United States of America. That is not an overstatement of my feeling.

Identifying my country with our Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, by centuries of historical tradition and legal precedent, by its separation of government powers and guarantee of justice and due process for all, I have watched aghast as a lethal authoritarian regime seized executive power, flouted U.S. and international law, imprisoned people illegally, shipped them to shadow prisons and tortured them, allowed a U.S. city to drown while they commended officials who had been fatally incompetent, faked press conferences and bribed journalists, spied on Americans, and much more.

As this unfolded, the institutions and the elected officials charged with containing such a threat, empowered to censure and even impeach, made excuses and did nothing meaningful to stop what was happening to my country.

In a year, George Walker Bush will wave triumphantly and fly home to Crawford, Texas, and never be held to account for what he has done, in all its horrible magnitude. History may judge him, we may hope God will judge him, but that does little for our politics now.

A new occupant will move in. There is a decent chance the new President will be a woman or a black man. Yet these seem like superficial concerns to me. Black, white, man, woman? I want to know the next President has a moral conscience. I want to know he or she understands and loves the words of our Declaration, and will uphold and defend the Constitution rather than work around it and re-interpret it to achieve authoritarian objectives.

I read the news for hints, but all I see are news stories about opinion polls. The news camera is turned on itself, instead of the fiber of the people who would lead our nation out of the Bush regime into something new. No more stories about polls. We are allowed to object to this, and ought to do so loudly and obnoxiously.

Near as I can make out, none of the current Democrats or Republicans have distinguished themselves the way Boris Yeltsin did in 1991. Yeltsin climbed on top of a tank to defy a coup attempt in Russia. In a sense, I feel the Bush Administration amounts to something like a coup, drastically changing the meaning and direction of the U.S., and the next administration will reflect how successful was this coup. So far, no one clearly challenged this tank's progress.

Acknowledgment must be made of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who made an effort and was laughed off the tank. Indeed, other Democrats who tried to jump the tank found themselves being yanked down by their own colleagues and even their leaders. In both houses.

Saddest of all is to see what Joe Liebermann has become. This Senator rose to national prominence by taking a brave stand of his own in 1998, when President Clinton was being embarrassed with unnecessary personal scandals. He dared to confront his President and his own party about morality, and this played very well with the public, as the press portrayed Joe Liebermann as a principled Democrat, a man who devoutly practices his religion and walks the walk, an independent man with a moral compass. The image stuck and Liebermann would become his party's vice-presidential candidate in the 2000 election.

Some time, not long after that election, Liebermann's compass became confused. He fails to see the amorality of the Bush Administration and how it operates, and became one of its most earnest supporters, covering for them, desperately defending its lies and promoting its aggressive and authoritarian view of the world, allowing himself to be co-opted and used by people who care not for his morality and do not answer to conscience. The tank rolled right over Joe Liebermann. Yet the Democrats cannot condemn Liebermann and fail to acknowledge the presence of the tank itself.

Hillary was for the war before she was against it, and she still isn't really against it so much as against doing it badly, now that they (and she) started it - in other words, I suppose, she is only for it because she is against it, or she's against it at heart but still is for doing it the right way. Didn't we have this president before?

While she spins around and around the tank and the other candidates just sort of stare at it, George Walker Bush looks forward to his post-presidential plans. He will issue a long list of pardons and say folksy things, wave to the cameras, and fly victoriously away on Air Force One, leaving behind a country drastically changed and still in denial about what has happened to us.

Boris Yeltsin standing on a tank, 1991

2 comments:

Mu Sang said...

Well said!

Tj said...

Certainly some food for thought...