By Greg Ellis
“And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
– Lord Acton
The period of convalescence from the realization that the Bush administration will be in power for another four years has not fully run its course, still striking a chord of trepidation. The healing has begun but has no end in sight. Perhaps most concerning is the insatiable thirst the Republicans had for power only to be quenched by the decimation of the now irrelevant Democrats–relegated to a status tantamount to an independent third party. Resist as I did, the analogy of Mr. Bush to the rogue CEOs of Enron, WorldCom or Global Crossing proves far too easy and attractive illustrated in his post-election win promise: “I earned political capital in this campaign and now I intend to spend it.” Perhaps Bush’s ideas do metaphorically represent capital, proving the law of diminishing returns. If you did invest in Mr. Bush’s capital via the ballot, it is time to stop returning your broker’s phone calls.
The Bush administration is arrogant and immune to criticism led by a president who can field a question from a puppet reporter saying those who think the U.S. is experiencing economic turmoil are “divorced from reality.” It’s a political self-delusion bordering on schizophrenia. The arrogance of this administration was befuddling from the first term, four years past with an election chosen by the Supreme Court, too close to call, a win margin infinitesimally small.
Yet this arrogance, fostered in international hegemony, has the security and reassurance of a commanding election win. The will of the American people is now behind them, an impetus with an immeasurable influence. Now all Republican decisions were tacitly endorsed by the Nov. 2 results. Arrogance ascends to a new level.
Most remarkable is that the only demonstration of Republican humility relates to their intended dismantling of FDR’s New Deal and Social Security. The Bush camp has acknowledged on the record that individuals could better manage social security funds than his own pack of bureaucrats in Washington D.C. Perhaps pomposity can be brought down to earth by one of the largest debts and budget deficits in U.S. history. The social security proposal seems to be the only arena in which the denial mechanism so integral to the Republican culture is momentarily incongruous.
In America’s dual role as international police and burgeoning bully, too many readily accept the U.S. as the masters of our universe. The mainstream media manufactures our consent by calling any resistance to U.S. policy “defiance,” implicitly assuming our view of the U.S. as a worldwide authority. North Korea’s withdrawl from nuclear non-proliferation talks represented insubordination of an employee, the disobedience of an adolescent. Now, America further meddles in world affairs with the Bush camp’s parental like overlook setting its eyes on Damascus. Under the rubric of Mr. Bush’s grand theme of tyranny anywhere being a threat to democracy everywhere, he orders Syria out of Lebanon. The boiling point of rhetoric is reached without hesitation.
Approximately three and a half years ago, President Bush said that America did not choose the war on terrorism,yet they are at the helm as it plays out. It demonstrates the dichotomous nature of an administration that regularly reduces the freedom of its own people–the suspension of civil liberties under the Patriot Act, analogous to the decision in Korematsu v. United States (1944) justifying the internment of Japanese-Americans “the gravest imminent danger to public safety”–called for nothing less.
Last month’s issue of The Atlantic Monthly led with a story authored by counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke who painted a pessimistic and ostensibly troublesome picture of what the years ahead could have in store for the U.S. in terms of terrorist attacks. With meticulous detail, Clarke outlined the store of imagined possibilities al Qaeda, Hezbollah et al. intend to inflict through exploitation of the U.S. security vulnerabilities, particularly those soft targets such as shopping malls and tourist areas in an effort to maximize economic devastation.
I wonder if anyone from the Bush administration was listening or even bothered to read the article from an expert they had since painted with a brush of discredit as a result of his criticisms.
The climate of a political party that feels a duty to do God’s work of spreading democracy quite easily has illusions of invincibility–all decisions being infallible providing our intentions are in God’s name. To the Republicans, Richard A. Clarke does not exist, he has been cut out by a level of groupthink that has no place for dissent nor question. More importantly Richard A. Clarke has been disowned by the cur- rent and future dynasty of America.
Our own attempts to resist American hegemony are reminiscent of the perpetually bullied school boy who one day decides to fight back only to further aggravate the bully and receive a far worse punishment. Perhaps we feel a sense of autonomy when we refuse to participate in anti-ballistic missile programs or maybe we decline for the sake of maintaining our own sense of independence. We cannot forget however that the American people have spoken on Nov. 2, and that we have no choice but to listen.