Monday, May 19, 2008

Week of 05/19/2008

When All That Is Left Is Fear
– by David Matthews 2

There is something incredibly pathetic when a person is reduced to being a caricature of their former self. To know that a person’s whole potential can be reduced to something so trivial and so quaint is really very sad.

This is why actors hate being typecast. The late George Reeves, for instance, considered his role as TV’s “Superman” to be just another job, but when it was all that anyone would ever recognize him as, it was too much for him. Leonard Nimoy is a writer, a singer, a major motion picture director, a talented and veritable actor, and a photographer… but people will ONLY see him as the “Star Trek” role of Spock. They won’t ask him about being the director of “The Good Mother” or about his work entitled “The Shekhina Project”. No, they just want him to give the Vulcan salute (which, by the way, hurts his hands now) and talk about being the pointy-eared half-human character that was created by the late Gene Roddenberry more than forty years ago.

The same thing happens to politicians. They can start out with really great intentions, and then become nothing more than a shell of their former selves. Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy went from being a serious presidential contender to being seen as nothing more than a stereotypical politician complete with Roman-style excesses. The only real significant thing that he did of late has been to pass the “Kennedy torch” over to Barack Obama.

Some folks, of course, know when to leave well enough alone. Former President Richard Nixon didn’t try to reinvent himself after he resigned in disgrace. History gave him some of his credibility back, but he would still be the president that resigned in disgrace after Watergate. Ronald Reagan didn’t try to do anything after he left office. Of course, having advanced Alzheimer’s didn’t help. George H.W. Bush also didn’t try to reinvent himself after he left office. He let his son do that for him.

Bill Clinton has certainly become a caricature of his former self. This guy used to be the harbinger of the “New Democrats”. Then he spent the last years of his White House tenure reduced to being a career politician desperately trying to keep his job by latching onto any concept he could get his hands onto. Heck, how many politicians would ever try to get a whole MILLENNIUM moved up a year just so he could take credit for it? Now he’s the husband of the Senator from New York by way of Washington DC and desperately trying not to embarrass her while she’s running for the White House.

Former president Jimmy Carter certainly tried to reinvent himself after his administrative quagmire. His work with Habitat for Humanity has been outstanding. But unfortunately some of his post-White House foreign activities have only reminded people of the blunders he made in the 1970’s. Any guesses who brokered the failed deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 1994 that turned out to be a farce?

That brings us to our current president, George W. Bush, and the sad degradation of what would normally be referred to as his career.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when this commentator would actually give Bush Junior a break in regards to his fumbling and bumbling through his job. Yes, he’s certainly not one of the more well-educated presidents in recent history. He’s certainly not one of the more eloquent presidents in recent years. He’s had more pratfalls than Gerald Ford; he made more verbal gaffes than Rush Limbaugh; and he pulled off more comedic antics than thirty years of political satire on Saturday Night Live put together. This guy couldn’t even eat a pretzel without his throat getting confused about which way was up.

He’s had faults, to be certain, but at least for the first half of his tenure, this commentator was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because of it. But eventually even his faults couldn’t excuse his actions.

And you would think that after seven years in office, with his public approval is so low that he gets booed at a baseball game and he has to travel outside of the country to find people that can applaud for him, that he would follow the lead of his Republican predecessors, including his father, and leave well enough alone so he could leave the White House in 2009 in relative obscurity. Unfortunately that would require an accurate appraisement of the situation around him and some modicum of planning, two things which he has demonstrated a profound lack of.

The first sign of his degradation into his self-parody were the series of news reports where Bush Junior would continually complain about Congress not passing the bills HE wanted passed. It seemed like every other day where the White House would grumble and fumble and complain that there was a certain bill or a certain program that wasn’t getting the attention that HE felt it deserved. He even threatened to not going to his ego-gratifying trip to Africa if Congress didn’t pass one of his little pet projects… but he ended up going anyway when it was clear that he was getting ignored. He so thoroughly enjoyed having the Congress at his beck and call that he simply didn’t realize that these Democrats were not going to do the same.

But then came two zingers this past week that clearly showed just how out-of-touch he is with the American people.

First was the not-so-subtle dig he made in Israel to celebrate its 60th anniversary. In speaking with the Knesset, Bush Junior dropped a reference to Hitler in the pre-war years when an “American Senator” said prior the Germans invading Poland “Lord if only I could have talked to Hitler this might have been avoided” as a warning about politicians who want to talk with “the enemy”.

Now why would he make that statement? Who has been wanting to “talk with the enemy”? Why that would be presidential contender Barack Obama. Obama has said that he would speak with Iran and with leaders of other “rogue nations” first before taking military actions. So much for that promise to not interject himself into the 2008 Presidential campaign. But then again, he already did that when he more or less anointed John McCain as the “de facto heir” to the Bush Imperium.

Oh, and the quote Junior used from that “American Senator”? That was Senator William Edgar Borah, representing the state of Idaho from 1906 until his death in 1940. It should also be noted that Borah was a Republican, and he was well-remembered after his passing... even after his statement was made a year earlier.

Then came the second zinger… Junior’s interview with Politico and Yahoo… and it pretty much sealed his descent into being his own sad parody.

First, he claimed that he was “disappointed” about the bad intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. And he said that the intelligence was shared “all across the world”. Uh, no. If that was the case then other nations would have come the same conclusions that the Bush Imperium did and there wouldn’t have been this huge level of disconnect with the other nations. Certainly the UN weapons inspectors wouldn’t have disagreed with the White House on the threat if they shared that same intelligence.

Maybe Junior was defining “the world” as being only those nations that supported his views?

"`Misled' is a strong word," quibbled Junior. Never mind that the threat WAS intentionally over-exaggerated by Saddam’s Iraqi critics. Now why would they do that if NOT to mislead people into taking a specific course of action?

Then Junior played the fear card… the only card he has left in his deck… and said that if the Democrats win in November and they do pull the troops out of Iraq as they promise they will do, that it would "eventually lead to another attack on the United States."

NEVER MIND that we have been told from this same government that there would be “another attack on the United States” BEFORE the Iraq War and all THROUGHOUT the Iraq War. NEVER MIND that we have been warned BY THIS SAME GOVERNMENT that at some point we should PREPARE for yet ANOTHER attack from the bad guys with every anniversary and every special event and every election that comes up. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, but apparently this president thinks that we’re doubly-damned if his anointed “de facto heir” doesn’t get into the White House.

This goes back to the argument made by Republicans since 2004 that Democrats equal DEATH and that ONLY Republicans can keep you “safe”. Or at least keep the war-profiteers safe. Even New York’s thug ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani used the “Democrats equal DEATH” argument as recent as 2007 as part of his failed campaign for the White House. It was thoroughly condemned not only by the media but also by the voters.

And so we have George W. Bush’s last gimmick… the only reason for his continued existence in this world, never mind in the White House. It is this dystopian Chicken Little argument that comes straight out of George Orwell’s book “Nineteen Eighty-Four” that ONLY the Bush Imperium and their ever-dwindling allies can keep the civilized world “safe”, and that supporting anyone else is DEATH.

As if that were not bad enough, our president then laid open the final insult on America. His assertion that he gave up the game of GOLF in solidarity for the family members who lost loved ones in Iraq. Over five years of battle, over four THOUSAND American lives lost, countless THOUSANDS more maimed or otherwise seriously wounded, and an untold number of Iraqi civilians killed or wounded during that time, and our president wanted to show his solidarity by giving up the game of GOLF!

Worse yet, his reason for this supposed “sacrifice” is as flawed as the rest of his judgment and logic. Bush Junior claimed that he gave up the game after the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. There’s just one problem with that… the attack on the UN building was in August of that year. The president was still playing golf in OCTOBER of that year, as captured by photographers.

So here we have an actual, real, I-kid-you-not, indisputable LIE from the President of the United States about the kind of heart-rending personal SACRIFICE that he made on behalf of the THOUSANDS of American servicemen who have lost arms, lost legs, lost parts of their skulls and brains, and even lost their very lives. He’s claiming to show solidarity to the soldiers and their families and he can’t even get the justification straight! How utterly PATHETIC do you have to be to reach that level of arrogance and general disconnect from the rest of the world? We have soldiers going to back to Iraq after three, four and even FIVE tours of duty, and coming home with injuries both physical and psychological, with veterans facilities so deplorable that they make the 2005 FEMA response in New Orleans look like a model of efficiency, only to be told they have to go back over to Iraq to serve yet another tour of duty. And our president gives up GOLF… which just happened to coincide with a personal injury, but he claims it was for an attack made three months previously.

You know, before this moment I was dubious of the “yellow ribbon” breed of political chicken-hawk that thinks that supporting the troops meant that you just needed to slap a yellow ribbon car magnet on your SUV and pompously shout down anyone who questions the rationale. Now we know where they get their lead from.

Let’s get brutally honest here… George W. Bush has become nothing more than a sad and utter parody of himself. An arrogant, elitist, fearmonger trying desperately to stay relevant so as to keep people from questioning why they have wasted the past six years of their lives living in fear of their own shadow.

Any notion that our president can somehow offer some solution to our current problems is pretty much out the window here. When faced with higher gas prices, Bush Junior went begging to his so-called “friends” in Saudi Arabia for help… only to be laughed at. His office stopped the refueling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve only because Congress had passed veto-proof legislation demanding it. Sure there is MORE that he could do as President… some of which he could even get overwhelming Congressional support for. He chooses, instead, not to because he doesn’t believe this is his problem to deal with anymore.

With an economy in decline, Bush Junior still REFUSES to admit there’s trouble, but he still pushed through rebate checks all the same thinking that this would help out America. If things are so great, though, why need the stimulus checks? And why push to tell people that they HAVE to spend it all IMMEDIATELY?

Meanwhile, of course, his acolytes still sing praises of how GREAT everything is because he’s running things, or at least when they’re not busy parroting his fearmongering message that ONLY HE and his “de facto heir” McCain can keep the world “safe”.

There comes a point in an abusive relationship when the only thing left keeping it together is fear. The abuse, physical and/or psychological, is so complete that nothing else is left. Where the only exchange that remains between abuser and abused is the reinforcement of fear. “Satisfy me or else you will be hurt.” “Obey me or else you will be hurt.” “Do what I tell you to do or else you will be hurt.” At that point there is no relationship left other than slavery. At that point any notion of “partnership” and “cooperation” and even “fidelity” itself exists in the delusional mind of the abuser. Only they see nothing wrong with their situation.

All that George W. Bush has left for America is fear. That is the only card that he can continue to play, and it will continue as long as we buy into it. And WHEN he leaves office next January, it would be better for him if history barely mentions him at all. It would be only fitting since he has already said that he didn’t care what history thought of him in the first place.

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