If the old saw "people tend to get the government they deserve" is true, I guess it means that we, the American people, are dumber than a box of rocks. How else to explain the current clique of clueless, Kleptocrats who have held our nation in thrall these past six years -- twelve if you go back to the Gingrich-led takeover of Congress in 1994? Have we, the people, lost our minds? Are a majority of us so detached, so easily mollified by so-called "Compassionate Conservatism" that we are even considering keeping the government in their hands for another two, four or even eight years? The very thought should make any but the most hardened elitist political troglodyte shudder in fear.
The sins, the very brazenness of the current cabal is not without historic precedent. This is the good news. The bad -- nay, the horrific -- news is that the administration whose pattern comes closest to mirroring that of the Bushies is Warren Gamaliel Harding's -- unquestionably the worst, most corrupt administration in American history. Similarities abound. Like Bush, Harding larded his cabinet with cronies from the world of big business. Like Bush, Harding had a "brain" [Attorney General Harry M. Dougherty] who choreographed his every political step. Like Bush, Harding entered office knowing next to nothing about economics, foreign or domestic policy. And like Bush, Harding had an absolutely tin ear when it came to the dreams, needs or aspirations of the middle and working class. Unlike Bush, Harding did do far more than any other president before or since to preserve and protect the Constitution; he ordered the moldering document removed from the dusty files of the National Archives and placed under protective glass. Even more importantly, unlike Bush, Harding did not get America embroiled in a foreign war. The only violence that took place during his term in office probably occurred in the Oval Office Cloakroom, and was undoubtedly of a sexual nature . . .
Despite the fact that the Harding-era Congress was peopled by such giants as Senators Hiram Johnson, William Borah, George Norris and Robert La Follete and Representatives Alban Barkley, Carl Vinson and Nicholas Longworth, it did little more than cut taxes, promote Prohibition, and restrict immigration. Sound familiar? One thing they did not do -- unlike the current crop on Capitol Hill -- was waste time debating such "critical" issues as the Flag Burning Amendment, English as America's official language, or whether marriage ought to be defined as the union between a man and a woman. Even the Harding/Gillette/Cabot Lodge Congress -- despite its many, many shortcomings and elitist attitude -- showed far more respect for the both institution and the American people than the firm of Bush, Hastert and Frist. Say what you will about Harding and his cronies; they rarely tried to insult the intelligence of the American public.
The Bush government, on the other hand, long ago concluded that a majority of the American people were either politically disinterested, disaffected or just plain brain-dead. How else to explain their naked, meretricious grab for power? For far too long, the American public has been politically somnolent, blithely accepting such Orwellian untruths as:
- Toppling Saddam protects San Francisco;
- Turning a multi-trillion dollar surplus into a multi-trillion dollar deficit is good for the economy;
- Global warming is an unsubstantiated opinion;
- Mulcting the middle class is moral;
- Refusing to raise the minimum wage while voting oneself a pay-raise is perfectly correct.
- Shredding constitutional safeguards is an ideal way of preserving constitutional rights.
In Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, detective Phillip Marlowe makes reference to "that class of people that can convince themselves that everything they do is right." Although Marlowe was referring to Orfamay and Orrin Quest -- moral albinos both -- he could easily have been referring to the entire crop of self-righteous born-again neocons that extend from Bush, Cheney and Rove to the likes of such cheerleaders as O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and Coulter. Like the Quests, the neocons can justify virtually anything they do in the name of some expedient -- whether it be called "national security," "good old fashioned American values," or "defending American liberty." It all boils down to the same thing: "trust me . . . I know what I'm doing." What all this adds up to is an administration, a Congress -- and now a Court -- that is robbing America blind.
Let's open the window for a moment and let an optimistic breeze enter. There are some emerging signs that perhaps -- just perhaps -- we are beginning to listen with both ears and not liking what we hear, and beginning to look with both eyes and seeing that some things aren't quite so black-and-white as they've been portrayed. We are hearing things that make little sense, and seeing things that are inconsistent:
- Why is it perfectly cricket for the Executive Branch to leak the name of a clandestine CIA operative, but treasonous for the New York Times to disclose that the Bush Administration has been secretly tracking millions and millions of international bank transactions?
- How is it possible for a president who has sworn to uphold the law to then unilaterally decide that he can obviate or ignore legislation passed by his own Congress?
- Isn't it incredibly inconsistent that a president, who misses no opportunity to express his overwhelming support for "our brave young men and women who are in harm's way," has yet to go to visit a single wounded soldier at Walter Reed, and, has even cut the V.A. budget?
- That two of America's biggest moral cheerleaders -- Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh -- are, respectively, the author of a pornographic novel who has been publicly charged with sexual harassment, and a pill popper with a history of obtaining his medicaments illegally. [By the way, so far as I know, Viagra is only used for one purpose. And considering that Rush isn't married, that would have to mean that he is having sex outside the bounds of holy matrimony. Oops!]
A very bright fellow once told me that as far as he was concerned, "the biggest, nastiest sin of all is considering me to be a fool." I agree with him. Wholeheartedly. Those in power have been treating a majority of the American people as if they/we are cretins for too long. But there is hope. America eventually replaced the vapidity of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover with the progressivism of the New Deal. This November, I hope and pray that the American voting public will take all those rocks out of the box, replace them with brains, and do what is necessary to restore a government that we truly deserve.